Weekend Open Thread

Two weeks! Two weeks until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training! It’s getting closer, folks. Also coming in two weeks: my annual top 30 prospects list and RAB’s eighth birthday. Eight years, man. Time flies. Here are the weekend links:

  • Jonah Keri released his annual list of the worst contracts in baseball. One Yankees player made the top ten and three others made the honorable mentions. I’m guessing you don’t even need to click to know who they are. Three of the five worst contracts belong to one team though, and it ain’t the Yankees.
  • David Waldstein wrote about Rob Refsnyder, but it’s not your typical puff piece. He covered Refsnyder’s upbringing — Refsnyder was born in South Korea and adopted by a family in California as an infant — and all the challenges he faced growing up, including being heckled as a college player.
  • There have been a bunch of interviews with new commissioner Rob Manfred since he officially came into power two weeks ago, and I think Bill Shaikin’s is the best. He hit Manfred with questions about growing the game, labor piece, the Athletics’ stadium situation, and more. It’s good stuff.
  • Last week, Baseball America republished a really great roundtable article on the “stats vs. scouts” debate from 2005. Two scouts and two stats guys sat down and discussed the usefulness of each other and where the game was going moving forward. It’s still really great read. Check it out.

Friday: Here is your open thread for the night. The Knicks, Nets, and Devils are all playing, and there’s a ton of college basketball on the schedule as well. Talk about those games, the links, or anything else right here. Have at it.

Saturday: This is your open thread again. The Rangers have already played but the Islanders, Devils, Knicks, and Nets are all in action tonight. And there’s college hoops as well. Talk about whatever’s on your mind here.

Sunday: For the last time, here’s your open thread. The Rangers are playing right now and that’s pretty much it. Have at it.

Weekend Open Thread

Only three more weeks until Yankees pitchers and catchers report to Tampa for Spring Training, folks. It’s getting closer and closer. Here are the weekend links:

  • Here’s a must read piece for Jorge Arangure, who recently traveled to Cuba and is writing about the experience. This post is part one of the series. There’s a little bit of baseball in the story, but mostly it is about the living conditions, how the country is changing, and how badly the people want it to change. It’s a really great read. Make sure you check it out.
  • Really interesting post from Ben Lindbergh on how the continually growing strike zone is hurting offense around the league. It’s not just that more low pitches are being called strikes, but now hitters have to protect against those pitches, and they’re very hard to square up.
  • Over at Baseball Prospectus (no subs. req’d), Chris Crawford wrote about the general lack of elite college hitters available in the draft. It comes down to three factors: more top hitters are signing out of high school, the new “deadened” bats they use in college kill power, and college coaches prioritize winning over development.
  • Some quick hit links: Ben Humphrey compiled each team’s payroll obligations from 2015-20, Bill Petti has a two-part series on how teams can get the most out of analytics (part one, part two), Eno Sarris looked at young hitters who see the fewest fastballs, Jeff Sullivan examined baseball’s most and least shiftable teams, and Grant Brisbee explained why you should root for Alex Rodriguez.

Friday: This is your open thread for the night. The Devils and Nets are both playing and there’s one college basketball game on the schedule. Goodnight to get out of the house. I’m going to a monster truck show. Totally not my thing, but a friend had an extra ticket, so I’m going. Talk about whatever you like here.

Saturday: Once again, here is tonight’s open thread. The Rangers and Devils are both in action, plus there’s the usual slate of college hoops as well. Talk about those games or anything else.

Sunday: For the last time, this is your open thread. The Super Bowl starts at 6:30pm ET (on NBC) and my official guess is 27-24 Seahawks on a walk-off field goal. Enjoy the game.

Weekend Open Thread

Happy Friday, everyone. Pitchers and catchers report only four weeks from today, and that’s pretty cool. I’m going to be out of town the next few days, so unless there’s some sort of breaking news, I don’t plan to post anything this weekend. Here are some links to get you by:

  • Over at CBS, we’re in the middle of a fun series looking at the bests and worsts in the history of each franchise. Best and worst teams, trades, uniforms, etc. All sorts of fun stuff. Here is the Yankees post. I didn’t write it and I disagree with Carl Pavano being the worst free agent signing. It’s this ugly A-Rod contact, hands down.
  • Jonah Keri wrote about the upstart Marlins, who cycled between being awful and winning the World Series the last two decades. The team finally appears to be in position to have sustained success thanks not only to Giancarlo Stanton, but to a deep and well-rounded core of 20-somethings with their best years ahead of them.
  • At the FanGraphs community blog, a user wrote about the adjustments Brandon McCarthy made after being traded to the Yankees and how they might apply to Nathan Eovaldi. The team tweaked McCarthy’s pitch selection a bit and also got him to pitch inside more, especially to righties.
  • And finally, Jeff Long looked at Rays lefty Jake McGee, who has emerged as an elite reliever despite throwing almost nothing but fastballs. From July 9th through September 20th last year, McGee threw 473 fastballs out of 476 total pitches, and had a 2.37 ERA (2.14 FIP) with 40 strikeouts and seven walks in 30.1 innings. It’s a classic “it’s so good, you know it’s coming and you still can’t hit it” pitch.

Use this thread to talk about whatever’s on your mind this weekend. The Yankees, the NHL All-Star Game, college hoops, the Pro Bowl (lol), anything. Have at it.

Weekend Open Thread

Five weeks from today, pitchers and catchers are due to report to Tampa for Spring Training. That’s the best non-news day of the year. Nothing really happens that day, no real workouts or anything, but it marks the start of a new season and I can’t wait. A fun Mike Mussina video is above and the weekend links are below:

  • The Blue Jays are planning to install natural grass in Rogers Centre by 2018, and John Lott wrote about all the challenges of trying to grow grass indoors. There are a ton of logistical issues — they have to change the roof panels and rip up the concrete under the field to install irrigation and drainage — and consultants haven’t even determined the best species of grass for the job yet. Other than that, everything’s going just swell.
  • The Yankees acquired Chris Martin from the Rockies in a minor trade earlier this week, and it turns out he has one heck of a back story. As Scott Miller explained in an article last April, Martin blew out his shoulder in college and quit going to school and playing baseball. He worked at Lowe’s, UPS and an appliance store before a friend convinced him to try out for an independent team, which eventually got him signed.
  • Anthony Castrovince wrote about the non-stop tragedies veteran umpire John Hirschbeck has faced. Hirschbeck lost two sons to a rare disease and also dealt with two bouts of cancer himself, among other things. It’s a real heartbreaking story. No fans like umpires, but they’re people too and Hirschbeck has been through an awful lot.
  • Jeff Zimmerman argues that baseball needs to expand and relatively soon to avoid falling into a third Dead Ball era. He doesn’t want the league to add two teams though, he wants the league to add six teams — not all at once, of course, two at a time over a period of several years — to increase offense and add excitement.
  • And finally, Erik Malinowski wrote about the incredible story of the Dirty Dozen Rowing Club. Long story short — I’m not joking, it’s a very long read — a bunch of rugby players from the Bay Area decided to get into rowing with the goal of qualifying in the 1984 Olympics even though they only had two years to prepare.

Friday: This is your open thread for the night. The Nets, Rangers, Islanders, and Devils are all in action, and there’s the usual slate of college basketball as well. Use this thread to talk about anything on your mind. Have at it.

Saturday: Use this as your open thread again. The Nets and Islanders are both playing, and there’s college basketball on as well. Talk about whatever.

Sunday: For one last time, use this as your open thread. The Seahawks and Packers are playing right now (on FOX) and later tonight the Patriots and Colts will be in action (6:40pm ET on CBS). The winners of each game advance to the Super Bowl. Go nuts.

Weekend Open Thread

Six weeks from today, pitchers and catchers will officially report to Spring Training for the 2015 season. It seems so close and yet so far at the same time. Here are the weekend links:

  • My pal Carson Cistulli put together a post looking for the next Garrett Richards, meaning a prospect with big time velocity, very good control, and no changeup. This is actually a follow-up to Carson’s work in 2012 looking for the next Michael Pineda — another big velocity, very good control, no changeup guy — which cranked out Richards as the next Pineda. There are no Yankees prospects in his year’s results but it’s still a fun study.
  • In a two-part series (part one, part two), Noah Baron looked at ways to try to improve fWAR, specifically by using FIP-based park factors and what amount to division factors. His work shows fWAR is overvaluing AL pitchers and undervaluing NL pitchers, by as much as 5%.
  • Jeff Wiser wrote about players only elite skill is base-running, like Eric Young Jr. and Emilio Bonifacio. Those types of players tend to be overvalued and given more playing time than they deserve, but there is a place for them on some rosters.

Friday: This is your open thread for the night. The Devils, Islanders, and Nets are all playing, plus there’s the usual slate of college basketball as well. Talk about anything and everything right here.

Saturday: Use this as your open thread again. The NFL playoffs are in full swing — the Ravens and Patriots are playing right now (on NBC), and later tonight the Panthers and Seahawks play (8pm ET on FOX). The Knicks already lost but tonight the Nets, Rangers, and Islanders are all playing. Talk about those games or anything else right here.

Sunday: This is the open thread one last time. The Colts and Broncos are playing right now (on CBS) and there’s also some college basketball, but that’s it. Have at it.

Weekend Open Thread

The holidays this year were so perfectly timed with Christmas and New Year’s right smack in the middle of the week, and as much as I enjoyed the little two-week break, I think I’m ready for things to go back to normal Monday. I must be getting old. Anyway, the video above features the 20 longest homers of 2014, and here are the weekend links:

  • A new year means Jayson Stark’s annual Strange But True column. It’s a must read each and every year. Here’s part one, here’s part two. The Yankees earn a mention because, well, they “lost three games in three days at Yankee Stadium — to three different teams.” They lost to the Twins on June 1, the Mariners on June 2 (makeup of the April 30 rainout), and the Athletics on June 3. Sigh.
  • Keeping with the end of the year theme, David Laurila posted a collection of 2014’s best quotes from his conversations with players, coaches, and executives. There are some real gems in there. Some insightful, some funny, all worth reading.
  • I’m passing this one along even though I haven’t had a chance to read it yet: Chris Mitchell is working on a system to forecast the future MLB value of hitting prospects, a system he named KATOH after Yankees prospect 2B Gosuke Katoh. According to KATOH, one of the best hitting prospects in the minors is Yankees OF Alex Palma, who was in rookie ball last year. OF Ramon Flores and OF Leonardo Molina both rate highly as well.
  • Tony Blengino wrote two really great pieces on players with favorable (and not so favorable) batted ball profiles heading into season. Here’s the AL, here’s the NL. The Yankees aren’t featured prominently or anything, but I find this batted ball stuff so interesting. Wish there was more (and better) data available.
  • Here’s a good piece from James Wagner about Carlos Alvarez, a former Nationals shortstop prospect who went by Esmailyn “Smiley” Gonzalez before it was discovered he lied about his identity. Washington gave him a $1.4M bonus thinking he was 16 when he was really 20. Alvarez, who said Nationals advisor Jose Rijo took a $300,000 kickback from his bonus, is still playing in Mexico and other countries. His case led to the team firing GM Jim Bowden and to MLB overhauling their operations in Latin America.

Friday: This is your open thread for the evening. The Knicks, Nets, Islanders, and Devils are all playing, plus there’s some college football and basketball on as well. Yuo folks have been doing this long enough by now, so you know how this works. Have at it.

Saturday: Use as your open thread again. Go nuts.

Sunday: For the last time, this is your open thread.

Weekend Open Thread

Happy Friday everyone. Buster Olney (subs. req’d) continued looking at the top ten players at each position today with shortstop. Andrelton Simmons, not Troy Tulowitzki, claimed the top spot. That’s weird. A hundred games of Tulo is still more valuable than 162 games of any other shortstop these days. Current Yankees starting shortstop Brendan Ryan did not make the list. Here are some other links for the weekend:

  • If you’re only going to click only one link this week, make it this one: Ben Lindbergh researched the transaction tree for every 40-man roster player in baseball and figured out which one dates back the longest for each team. So, as an example, the Yankees got Nick Swisher for Wilson Betemit, got Betemit for Scott Proctor, got Proctor for Robin Ventura, got Ventura for David Justice, got Justice for Jake Westbrook, got Westbrook for Hideki Irabu, and got Irabu for Ruben Rivera. Make sure you check it out.
  • Brian MacPherson spoke to several executives about the importance of makeup, particularly for young players who may initially struggle in MLB. “How they handle it, truly, is how they handle adversity. If you’re good, it’s hard. If, mentally, you can’t handle the failure, that speaks volumes about you needing more time. If you struggle mentally, it’s going to carry over to some part of your game and you’re not going to produce,” said Marlins GM Dan Jennings. “You hope you can see that failure down below, and see how they handle it at Double-A or Triple-A. But at the big-league level, it’s a production league, and you’re always gauging and trying to read that, your time to allow that to allow that to go is really predicated on, No. 1, are you willing to commit for ‘X’ number of at-bats or ‘X’ number of games, and No. 2, is it affecting you in the standings?”
  • In a related piece, Kiley McDaniel mused about the importance of failure in the minor leagues for top prospects. Learning how to cope with failure for the first time at the MLB level ain’t easy. It’s a positive thing in a player’s development for them to hit the skids at some point in the minors so they can learn how to adjust — physically and mentally — and get back on track.
  • Russell Carlton wrote about three people who explain where baseball is right now. One is Hank Conger, who represents the emphasis teams are placing on pitch-framing. Another is Michael Cuddyer, who represents the wonkiness of the qualifying offer system. And the last is Gabe Kapler, who represents what may be market inefficiencies in the front office.
  • And finally, Kevin Ruprecht attempted to use PitchFX data to measure the quality of a hitter’s contact. There’s some scary math in there, but it’s interesting stuff. There’s a significant increase in production when a fly ball is hit more than 310 feet — balls hit 310 feet went for a .151 AVG and a .398 SLG from 2012-14 while balls hit 311 feet went for a .197 AVG and a .505 SLG.

Friday: Here is your open thread for the night. The Islanders, Nets, and Devils are all playing — the Rangers were postponed because of the snow in Buffalo — plus there’s college basketball happening somewhere. Talk about those games or anything else right here.

Saturday: This is your open thread once again. All of the local hockey and basketball teams are playing except the Rangers, and there’s college basketball and football on as well. Anything goes here. Talk about whatever.

Sunday: Here’s your open thread one final time. The (hockey) Rangers are playing and the late NFL game is the Cowboys and Giants. You know what to do by now, so keep doing it here.