Friday, October 09, 2009

Around Baseball: News, Links, and Observations

posted by Jon Williams
Want a job working for a Major League Baseball team? Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus shares an attempt by a major League team to tap into the knowledge of baseball fans. You can win your chance by sending your answer to the following question (send it by November 9th, 2009) to mlbquestion@gmail.com just don't expect an answer unless you are in the running.
If you had access to all of the information available to a major league team - both public and proprietary data, such as scouting reports, training reports, video, etc - what question(s) would you attempt to answer with that data? How would you go about that process? What potential problems do you foresee?
David O'Brien runs the excellent Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta Braves Blog. This is one of the better sources for information on the Braves and the thinking of their management team. In the post linked above, O'Brien discusses the Braves' priorities for the 2010 season. They have placed a right-handed power hitter at the top of their list of needs. Closely followed by re-signing Adam LaRoche (or another power-hitting first baseman). Interestingly, O'Brien seems to think the Braves could pry outfielder (and right-handed power hitter) Nelson Cruz away from the Texas Rangers and I think he may be right.
But anyway, Cruz is right-handed and hit .260 with 33 homers, 20 stolen bases and an .856 OPS in 128 games, and while his .931 OPS at hitter-friendly Arlington was a lot higher than his .778 on the road, he hit almot as many homers (15) on the road than at home (18) in virtually the same number of at-bats.
Nelson Cruz had a fantastic season in 2009 but found himself on the bench frequently in the second half. This is partly due to minor injuries and a few slumps but manager Ron Washington seemed to like his other options much better. The Rangers are very deep in the outfield. They have rookie Julio Borbon (who looked a lot like a junior version of Carl Crawford) projected as the 2010 center fielder. Josh Hamilton is moving to right field (he's still a stud in case you were wondering). That leaves left field open for one of Nelson Cruz; Marlon Byrd, who hit 20 home runs and who the Rangers want to re-sign; 0r lesser possibilities like David Murphy, Brandon Boggs, and Greg Golson.

The Nationals Farm Authority is repeating a rumor first tweeted by ESPN’s Jose Arangure which suggests that Jeff Zona, currently a Nats Cross Checker could be promoted to Director of International Scouting. Zona was a scout for the Boston Red Sox in 2004 when they finally broke The Curse. I have a good feeling about the direction of the Nationals. Since Mike Rizzo took over they've almost exactly what I would have wanted them to do. The Nats have a powerful lineup that should be even better in 2010. Their bullpen is beginning to look like a potential strength with Sean Burnett, Tyler Clippard, Garrett Mock and Mike MacDougal forming the heart of it. They are quickly building a formidable farm system featuring players with true star potential such as Stephen Strasburg, Derek Norris, and Michael Burgess. I suggest that Fantasy Owners look very deeply at Mike Rizzo's moves this off-season.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks completed the Jon Garland trade when the D'Backs accepted infielder Tony Abreu as the player to be named later. There has been some controversy over Abreu's service time but apparently not enough to force the Dodgers to change the compensation. Abreu is a strong contact hitter who does not draw many walks. He has good pop for a middle infielder and decent speed, but does not steal many bases. I think of Abreu as a Howie Kendrick-lite who could have some value in NL-only leagues in 2010, if he wins the starting job at second base. He will definitely be in the mix.

If you have ever found yourself bitching about the price of tickets to the best sporting events you needs to read Seats of Gold. Hell, even if you haven't the insanity that is the Legends Suite at the New Yankee Stadium is worth reading about. I'm pretty certain I won't ever be going to Yankee Stadium ever again. I want to, but I don't think I'll ever be able to do it.

In the downstairs half of the suite, there are all the same food stations -- plus dessert. Ice cream served in little blue Yankees helmets. Or maybe an entire pint for your seat. Pan-sautéed whoopie pies. I get three or four of those and take them to the bar, where I order a $60 glass of Johnnie Walker Blue Label (food's free, booze isn't). A house ad airs on the television in front of me. Apparently, I can buy Kobe beef to take home from the stadium. Yes, there's a butcher here. And an art gallery. I can get sushi and lobster rolls and Scottish salmon in another nearby lounge, along with duck pasta. On the first- and third-base side of the room, hidden from common view behind home plate, sit gigantic tables covered with every snack imaginable. There's Cracker Jack and peanuts, Twizzlers and Twix, Skittles and Starburst, plus five or six other kinds of sugar-coated goodness.

I watch a kid, maybe 8 years old, stand in front of the spread. He's paralyzed. His dad is trying not to laugh, and the boy can't figure out what to take. He's never seen anything like this.

The dad finally laughs. "It's all included," he tells his son. "It's like Willy Wonka."

Welcome to the new America, kid. Too bad you can't save a bag of Skittles in your wallet for 50 years. Luckily, you'll never know what you're missing.

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