End of an era

This post goes out to Martin Waxman, since the first nine posts of this blog were mandatory, but number ten isn’t.

Dave Stewart’s scowl was legendary. Image courtesy Bleacher Report. 

Dave Stewart is by most accounts a good guy, his once menacing mound demeanor not withstanding. He was a very good pitcher, a very good teammate and by some accounts a very good agent, but he was ill-suited to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ General Managers role he inherited in 2013.

In 2015, the Arizona Diamondbacks traded three players, including productive center fielder Ender Inciarte and number one overall pick Dansby Swanson to the Atlanta Braves for #3 starter type Shelby Miller. A year earlier, after a Miller down season, the Braves acquired four years of Miller for one year of Heyward in a larger deal. Reminded of the lopsided nature of the second deal, tried to defend it by saying the following: Continue reading

Houston, we have a…wait, let’s chill out for a minute.

It’s all anyone on the trade deadline beat can talk about now; the failure of Houston Astros GM Jeff Luhnow to substantially upgrade his pitching staff (Francisco Liriano notwithstanding) at the trade deadline.

Let me state here, for the record, that I like the media (granting I used to be a member). They keep things fun and interesting and as a hobbyist, I appreciate that they do the dirty work in developing the narratives that keep interests like mine in baseball…interesting (queue awkward Austin Powers smile). That said, this time, I’m pretty sure they’re manufacturing something that’s not really there right now.

Carlos Correa

Injured or not, Carlos Correa is the best under-25 year old player on the planet. Image courtesy New York Times.

The Astros, winning at just a .500 clip over their last twenty games, are still a dynamo. They’re missing Carlos Correa, who’ll be back by playoff time. They’re missing George Springer, who’ll be back by playoff time. Their bullpen is banged up, but given the cushion Houston’s huge divisional lead provides, Manager A.J. Hinch should be able to distribute innings in a way that rests their higher-leverage arms. The offence, despite a recent swoon has a (gulp) 129 wRC+, which makes the team the equivalent of Eric Hosmer having a career year. Next highest? The Dodgers at 111. If there’s an issue, it’s that the starting pitching is banged up, but as recent rumours of Justin Verlander trade inquiries suggest, there are options there. This team is a juggernaut. Continue reading

(Re)Pete: Why the latest news on Pete Rose’s degradation shouldn’t affect his HoF chances.

So, old friend Pete Rose is back in the news. The all-time hit leader, games played leader, at bats leader, player-manager, gambler, liar and all-around scoundrel is now in the eye of a dispute on whether a then-teen he had an ongoing sexual relationship with some 40 years ago was 15 or 16. She insists she was 15. He insists she was 16. Like the difference really matters.

For decades since his banishment in 1989, Rose has done everything short of acting admirably to regain his assorted footholds. He’s been re-embraced in Cincinnati, was set to be enshrined in the Philadelphia Phillies Wall of Fame and had his cushy job on Fox’s MLB broadcasts. He’s also been the subject of the most hotly-contested Hall of Fame debate this side of Barry Bonds: How much should voters take off-field incidents into account. Some are now—finally—saying this latest news is the straw that broke the camel’s back and Pete, great as he was on the field, should not be allowed enshrinement. I’m just having trouble understanding why they thought he was deserving in the first place. Continue reading

The most wonderful time of the year (except the playoffs)

“There’s always trading!” –Heather Wise, July 27th, 2017.

This one’s an explanation for the Heathers of the world.

The trade deadline is done and gone with, with the media hordes having completed their initial analyses. It’s a yearly tradition; from the All-Star break onwards, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman and countless others relentlessly tweet and publish whatever info comes their well-connected ways to millions of followers hanging on every character like vampires on blood. And it’s my fault.

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Solving the Mike Trout Problem

Mike Trout

Mike Trout. Enough said.

Mike Trout is the best player in baseball and a quarter of the way through his career, he’s on a trajectory to be the greatest player in MLB history. After 150 years of Babe Ruth and ted Williams and Barry Bonds and Walter Johnson and Pedro Martinez, that’s one hell of a statement, but advance metrics bear it out. In the 40 years I’ve followed baseball, only Bonds has even entered the conversation, and while I’m not as anti-steroids as some, I can’t help but marvel at the fact Trout seems to be doing it clean. He has a long way to go and any number of things can go wrong over the next decade and a half, but that doesn’t change that we’re witnessing an ongoing performance that’s nothing short of historic in a game that, more than any other, loves its history.

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Opening Day with Edie

While my father taught me to appreciate the sport as a whole, my loyalties in any particular season are to the Toronto Blue Jays. I was born in Toronto, have lived in the vicinity most of my life, went to my first game in 1979, went to see Devon White’s catch in the World Series, jumped with Joe Carter, celebrated on the streets of Toronto in ’92-’93, threw the bat with Jose Bautista and own my share of Jays paraphernalia. I’m a Jays fan with all the rituals that come with it.

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WAR, what is it good for?

It’s opening day, which obviously means all is right with the world. Spring is here, summer is coming and all thirty teams are in first place, at least for the next few hours. There’s plenty to be excited for this season, but what I’m most looking forward to is the further implementation of Statcast, a huge step in analyzing what makes for success in MLB, like WAR before it. Statcast has lifted a lot of veils, which makes it awesome.

In its own ways, WAR has been awesome too. It’s been an easy, one-step means of ushering proponents of the old quantifications into the new, more analytical world. WAR was the first successful measurement of the complete individual performance, complex enough in the calculation to inspire confidence in its findings, but simple enough in its expression to penetrate the mainstream. Without WAR, we’d still be in the RBI days. We should all give thanks to WAR for most of what its given us.

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Getting started

Baseball is beautiful. I knew as much the first time I emerged, holding my father’s hand, from a beer and peanut-soaked tunnel to see perfect fields of green under rows of lights and a sunset sky. That was 39 years ago, I was five and the image remains intact…pristine. In the time since, I’ve grown to love the game in so many ways; the simplicity, the complexity, the intensity, the calm of a summer day, the history, the numbers and the nostalgia. Victory and defeat. Pain and exhilaration. You’re damn right baseball is beautiful. Continue reading