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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A-Rod could reach milestones. Duh.

I've been writing this since October 2012, long before the Biogenesis PED scandal.

Countdown to Opening Day - 7: Major milestones loom amid A-Rod's return to baseball
by Dan Toman 3h ago    thescore.com

Sometimes it's easy to forget Alex Rodriguez is one of the best baseball players of all time...

this spring ... lead New York Yankees regulars in OBP, SLG, OPS and homers...

A-Rod is closing in on three major milestones:
3,000 hits (needs 61) ... A-Rod might need about 400 PAs or 80 games to find green 61 more times

2,000 RBIs (needs 31)

This knucklehead omitted 2,000 Runs scored (needs 81).

61 hits in 400 PA?  If 350 AB, A-Rod would have .174 BA and be benched.  Where do they come up with this stuff?

In 2014 Derek Jeter had 634 (570 SS) PA, 581 (521 SS) AB.

A-Rod should bat that much as DH.  He's in great shape.  I think the year off let his body rest, more than Jeter who kept trying and failing to play in 2013.

People will applaud when A-Rod reaches the milestones, home or road.

Alex Rodriguez: reachable milestones in 2013 worth $$$?  Thursday, October 18, 2012

Alex Rodriguez can easily reach these milestones in 2013:

- 2,000 RBI: needs 50
- 3,000 Hits: needs 99.

More difficult but possible would be 2,000 runs; Rodriguez needs 102, which he has not achieved since 2008.

These are huge accomplishments.  Most teams would relish having a player reach even one of these.  To have a player reach two in the same season would be special.  Three would be extra special.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Pace of play Kabuki dance.

There's a rumor that spring exhibition games will continue through the rest of the week.  It's the eternal question: how can you tell when the regular season has started?

By now the big initiative of the new commissioner's reign is pretty much a joke even before it actually starts.  April, the first month of the regular season, is supposed to be a grace period during which batters are merely warned about delaying play with stuff like stepping out of the box.  After April the Major Baseball League (MBL) is supposed to actually start imposing those $500 fines on players.

You'd think that during the practice games the umpires and players would be, you know, practicing.  I noticed Ryan Howard become self conscious when he stepped out of the batter's box in the first or second exhibition game.  But it quickly became apparent that the most that we fans are getting is that batters are not turning their backs on the plate and walking away.  They now delay in place.

The umpires continue their dead head mode of recent seasons: standing there and not calling time when a batter steps out.  It's become an implied time out and the pitcher accommodates by waiting for the batter rather than throwing a pitch right down the middle and calling the umpire's attention to the fact that he, the umpire, never called time out and, hey, call that pitch a strike.

If the umpires have not practiced warning the batters and the batters have not practiced staying in the box, then what can we expect when real games are played?  Correct.  Nothing.

Kabuki dance (synonym for political posturing) MLB style will be on full display.  Commissioner Manfred, the A-Rod Slayer, will boast of his achievements.
Kabuki Acrobats, Sadler's Wells Theatre, London June 11, 2010 by Flickr user: GanMed64 via Wikimedia Commons
Manfred, the A-Rod slayer, here's simple change of pace stuff you can implement NOW.  Monday, February 2, 2015

1. Enforce this:

Selig refuses to enforce existing 12 second rule between pitches!  Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Allan Huber "Bud" Selig should suspend himself 211 games and self flagellate indefinitely. 

2. Order, yes, order, the umpires to not grant time out to a batter for any reason.

David Ortiz: high and tight, low and away. That's all you need to think about.  Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I just heard David Ortiz (Fat Papi) run his mouth on MLB Network about how he needs to strut around between pitches so that he can think deep thoughts about what might happen next...

Call the batter out.  I've long advocated: you step out, you're out.  Teammates will turn on a player who is putting himself above the team.

Pace of Game Committee: It is not an objective of ours to achieve a dramatic time reduction right away.  Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Baseball Think: keeping time without a clock: "one Mississippi, two Mississippi, ...".  Saturday, February 21, 2015

Say what?  They do not want to "achieve a dramatic time reduction right away".  What?  Do it so slowly that it will not be noticeable and therefore ineffective.  That's the objective?  To doom the effort?  ...

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Alex Rodriguez 2015 home run projections.

Alex Rodriguez has not been given much chance of hitting a significant number of home runs in 2015.  Rodriguez will be trying to hit homers in the least favorable environment of his career.  Through 2013 Rodriguez has 654 home runs.  Here are the only players with at least 600 homers:

1 Barry Bonds 762 1986 2007 21-42 2986 12606 9847 2227 2935 601 77 1996 2558 688 1539 106 4 91 165 514 141 .298 .444 .607 1.051 *78H/D9 PIT-SFG
2 Hank Aaron 755 1954 1976 20-42 3298 13941 12364 2174 3771 624 98 2297 1402 293 1383 32 21 121 328 240 73 .305 .374 .555 .928 *9783DH/45 MLN-ATL-MIL
3 Babe Ruth 714 1914 1935 19-40 2504 10622 8399 2174 2873 506 136 2214 2062 1330 43 113 2 123 117 .342 .474 .690 1.164 971/H83 BOS-NYY-BSN
4 Willie Mays 660 1951 1973 20-42 2992 12496 10881 2062 3283 523 140 1903 1464 192 1526 44 13 91 251 338 103 .302 .384 .557 .941 *8H/39675 NYG-SFG-NYM
5 Alex Rodriguez 654 1994 2013 18-37 2568 11344 9818 1919 2939 519 30 1969 1240 92 2075 169 16 101 240 322 76 .299 .384 .558 .942 65D/H SEA-TEX-NYY
6 Ken Griffey 630 1989 2010 19-40 2671 11304 9801 1662 2781 524 38 1836 1312 246 1779 81 8 102 199 184 69 .284 .370 .538 .907 *89DH/73 SEA-CIN-CHW
7 Jim Thome 612 1991 2012 20-41 2543 10313 8422 1583 2328 451 26 1699 1747 173 2548 69 1 74 165 19 20 .276 .402 .554 .956 3D5H CLE-CHW-LAD-MIN-BAL-PHI
8 Sammy Sosa 609 1989 2007 20-38 2354 9896 8813 1475 2408 379 45 1667 929 154 2306 59 17 78 202 234 107 .273 .344 .534 .878 *98D/H7 CHW-CHC-BAL-TEX
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/29/2015.

Rodriguez has the fourth most at bats (AB) among the eight.  Ruth has the fewest.

For his career Rodriguez has homered about every 15 AB.  That's AB, not plate appearances (PA).  Here are his home run rates for recent seasons:


One home run every 25 AB seems reasonable, especially considering how much power Rodriguez has generated in exhibition games this spring.  Pretty much all of the nonsensical predictions of his demise even before the start of the regular season have faded away.  Now it's mostly how many AB Rodriguez can get.  Implicit in that is a HR rate and a resulting number of HR.  We seem forever stuck with HR totals, not HR rates.

Above are actual HR rates for recent seasons and then possible totals based on a rate of one homer every 25 AB.  500 AB with a HR rate of 20 would yield 25 HR.

Alex Rodriguez: why do people think A-Rod will break down in spring training? PED voodoo?  Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Rodriguez is one year younger than former best buddy and former Yankee teammate Derek Jeter.  Jeter played a significant amount in 2014, primarily at shortstop, and performed pretty well for a 40 year old player.  Jeter had played only 17 games in 2013, so he was about as rusty as Rodriguez will be in 2015.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Too many exhibition games on TV?

The regular season does not start for more than a week but I already feel as though there have been too many meaningless games on the MLB Network.  I don't actually watch them.  I don't even monitor the games.  Occasionally they provide background images.  I might even listen to some comments by the announcers.

The regular season has 162 games, pretty much all played one per day.  If there are any doubleheaders scheduled, they are very few.  Sunday doubleheaders were common when I was a boy, plus holiday doubleheaders: Memorial Day, Independence Day (July 4), Labor Day.  Then came twinight doubleheaders, generally starting around 5:00 PM on a Tuesday or Friday.  Then doubleheaders were gone.  By the early 1980s.  Coincident with that was a reduction in pitcher starts and innings.

March 31, 2014 the Cubs played the Pirates in Pittsburgh, the first regular season game for each team.  In 2015 the Cubs play the first game, hosting the Cardinals Easter Sunday night April 5.  Then the next day the other teams start playing.

April 11, 1962 was the day of the first game played by the expansion New York Mets.  It was the first season that the National League played a 162 game regular season schedule.  Before modern expansion, which started in the American League in 1961, teams generally played a 154 game schedule from 1903 through 1960.

Doubleheaders allowed the teams to continue starting the season in the second week in April.  Then division play started in 1969 with a preliminary round of games before the World Series; initially the preliminary round was best of 5, then best of 7 starting in 1985.  As doubleheaders faded in the 1980s, more days were needed for the regular season.  Then starting in 1995, two preliminary rounds of games were played before the World Series.  Then a couple of years ago a do-or-die wild card playoff game was added.

It's my understanding that a possible seventh game of the 2015 tournament finals would be played on Sunday night November 1.  The fifth and final game of the 1961 World Series was played Monday afternoon October 9 at Crosley Field Cincinnati.

So with the regular season and tournament stretching the limits of a reasonable baseball calendar, how wise is it to also flood American television screens with exhibition games, many with split squads and minor league players most fans have never heard of?  Is this preparation of fans to be bored during the regular season?  Is this fan spring training?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Manfred and Steinbrenner support Alex Rodriguez.

Welcome back.  So say both Major Baseball League (MBL) commissioner Rob Manfred and Yankee CEO Hal Steinbrenner.  Manfred, the A-Rod Slayer, said about Alex Rodriguez: "baseball ought to welcome him back ...  He's played well.  Good for him."

Implicit in Manfred's statement, whether intentional or not, is that individual vigilante acts like that of the coward Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster are not appropriate.  In 2013 Red Sox fans applauded Dempster for making multiple attempts to hit A-Rod with fastballs and finally drilling, not plunking, him.  Then in 2014 those same Red Sox fans warmly and hypocritically greeted the farcical return of their most public user of performance enhancing drugs (PED), Manny Ramirez.

Hal Steinbrenner was asked about A-Rod yesterday on the Micheal Kay ESPN radio program.  Steinbrenner said that he was impressed with A-Rod's quality of play, including opposite field power.  Let bygones be bygones.  Let's not dwell on the past.  No mention of the Yankees suing A-Rod to void a separate contract that would pay Rodriguez $6 million for each player he passes in home runs, starting with the man just ahead of A-Rod, Willie Mays.  The Yankees claim that Rodriguez made the contract worthless by his being suspended for using PED.

See my previous post for more on the Steinbrenner interview:

Hal Steinbrenner turns down $6 billion for the Yankees.  Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hal Steinbrenner turns down $6 billion for the Yankees.

Not really.  This afternoon Hal Steinbrenner, who runs the New York Yankees, was interviewed on ESPN radio by Michael Kay and Don La Greca.  Kay also does Yankee play by play on the Yankee Entertainment and Sports (YES) Network, which the Yankees formed a decade ago and sold a couple of years ago.  La Greca is Kay's sidekick on the radio show and a notorious Met fan.

Kay pointed out to Hal that Forbes magazine valued the Yankees at $3.2 billion.  Kay asked Hal if he would sell the team for bucks like that.  Hal protested that money was not a driving force in his life.  Hal did not mention his three adult siblings, the four of whom I refer to as the Steinbrenner Kids as in the Steinbrenner Kids should sell the Yankees because they are mismanaging the team into irrelevance.

La Greca then upped the ante by supposing that he had just inherited $6 billion and offered all of it to Hal for the Yankees.  Hal again declined.

Innocent enough except that the overall impression was one of Hal establishing a new standard for a twit.  Kay reminded Hal that his late father George had bought the Yankees in 1973 for $10 million.  One can only assume that George would be turning over in his grave at the thought of one of his children being so foolish.  George might take solace in his other three kids wrestling control of the team from Hal and cashing in or out, whichever is more appropriate.

Kay also asked Hal multiple times about the suggestion of some that he, Hal, did not measure up to his father.  Hal claimed that he did not think about that.

Just sell the damn team and stop retiring uniform numbers.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Yankee uniform numbers in hexadecimal: more that can be retired.

This is not completely original but it's fun.  Below are a few numbers converted to the base 16 number system: hexadecimal.  This allows for expansion of the New York Yankee plan to distract fans with trite and meaningless ceremonies.  Try a few numbers yourself with one of the converter sites.

Decimal to Hexadecimal Converter

Jorge Posada 20 is 14 in hex
Andy Pettitte 46 converts to 2E
Bernie Williams 51 is 33 in hex

Fortunately, 0 through 9 are the same in both systems, so the following Yankee legends are safe:
Babe Ruth 3
Lou Gehrig 4
Joe DiMaggio 5
Mickey Mantle 7
Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra 8

Whitey Ford is 16 in decimal and 10 in hex.

Phil Rizzuto is the dividing line: 10 in decimal, A in hex.

Got it?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cheating and Lying: Pete Rose and Alex Rodriguez.

I am writing about this only because for some reason it was a subject in The Times.

Pete Rose’s Statistics: 4,256 Hits and a Big Error
By TYLER KEPNER MARCH 23, 2015  The New York Times

Pete Rose Sept. 1985
Mike Schmidt and Paul Molitor ... Hall of Famers disagree...

Pete Rose, the career hits leader, barred for life in 1989 for gambling on games played by the Cincinnati Reds, the team he was managing...

the agreement Rose had signed under Commissioner Bart Giamatti, who died of a heart attack eight days later...

Schmidt grew up in Dayton, Ohio ... Later, Schmidt and Rose were teammates on the Phillies. He (Schmidt) believes the purpose of the ban has been met...

Molitor, who now manages the Minnesota Twins. ... stopped short of endorsing Rose’s reinstatement.

“The one rule that is read in every clubhouse, every spring training, for I don’t know how many decades, has been made clear that if this is violated, this is the consequence,” Molitor said. “Now, if they decide to make a change in the stance that they’ve taken to this point, you are going to say that every time we read that, we really didn’t mean it.”  ...

The Hall of Fame passed a rule in 1991, just before Rose would have appeared on the writers’ ballot, that said anyone on the permanently ineligible list was also barred from the Hall. That rule could be reversed by the Hall of Fame’s board, but there has been no push to do so...

Rose was never accused of betting on the Reds to lose, but betting on them to win was dangerous enough to the game’s integrity. In theory, Rose might have managed differently if he had a lot of money riding on a game. And he might have tacitly sent a signal to bookmakers about his lack of confidence in the Reds in games on which he did not bet.

Pete Rose hid his activities and when caught lied about them ... for 14 years.  Ten years ago Rose admitted that he had broken the rule against gambling and lied.  I apply my Pete Rose rule: for every day you lie, you must wait a day to even be considered for reinstatement, much less election to the Hall of Fame or other relief.

The only penalty that Pete Rose has suffered has been his exclusion from the Hall of Fame, which is supposed to honer former players and which has character as a basis for four of its six criteria for election.  It is very unlikely that Rose would have been offered another job as a major league manager.  Maybe he could have become a coach.

Rose has been hustling during all his years in exile.  Rose signs autographs for money in Las Vegas and in Cooperstown, NY, home of the Hall of Fame.

Rose was not precluded from doing the thing he cherished the most: playing major league baseball.  Alex Rodriguez received that most severe of punishments and served the longest suspension for use of performance enhancing drugs (PED) and the longest for pretty much any players except those seven Chicago White Sox players who took money from gamblers to intentionally lose the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, plus Chicago teammate Buck Weaver who also received a lifetime ban for knowing about the conspiracy but failing to report it.

What happened to the Buck Weaver precedent: those with knowledge of wrong doing are also guilty?  Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Buck Weaver precedent has been applied only that one time as far as I know.  It certainly has not been applied for use of PED.  Had it been then teammates of players such as Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGuire, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa AND their managers such as Joe Torre and especially Tony La Russa, who managed McGuire in BOTH Oakland and St. Louis, would have also been punished and not been eligible for election to the Hall of Fame.  None of those players who are eligible (all but the active Rodriguez) have come close to election but the two managers, Torre and La Russa, were both elected in 2014 without a hint of the objections directed at the players.

To my knowledge I am the only one who called for the sentence imposed on Rodriguez to be commuted, especially after the 2014 All Star break, which is past the midway point of the regular season.  Commissioner Allan Huber "Bud" Selig never indicated that such a thought had ever crossed his mind.  Selig has been on the Hall of Fame’s board since 1976.

So should the quality of mercy be extended to Rose when it was not considered for Rodriguez?  Too many baseball people and also fans do not understand the basic importance of baseball and the other team sports in avoiding even the impression that the games are not on the level.  Every game can be suspect.  Every game contains plays and calls by the umpires, which can be interpreted as being dishonest.  It's all in the frame of mind of the observer.

It's fixed.  The fix is in.  It's just too easy for fans to say and think that.  The first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, established an important principle.  The absolute rule against gambling on baseball games provided an essential foundation on which the game has been based since 1920.  Even as a kid I was aware that there was a notice posted in every clubhouse stating that policy.  Pete Rose may have gambled when he was a player.  It seems likely that he did given his apparent gambling addiction.  However, his offense was that he gambled when he was a player-manager and also later a non-player manager of the Cincinnati Reds, ages 43-48.  Rose was not a kid but a grown man who knew full well the consequences of his actions.

As a player Pete Rose was paid over $7 million dollars.  In his final season as player-manager of the Reds, 1986, when Rose was 45 years old, Rose was paid one million dollars.  Some may shriek that Rodriguez has been paid much more but Rose was well paid and knew the rule.  Rose did not have the excuse of the 1919 White Sox, some of whom were plaid less than they might have been worth.

The worst thing a person in uniform can do is intentionally lose.  The next worst is to violate the prohibition against gambling, which is so closely associated with the worst offense.

Pete Rose should never be restored to any sort of condition of normalcy, much less honor.  Rose should have the good grace to suffer his rightful punishment away from the public spotlight that he cannot resist.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Analytics or Washoe the chimp?

"To be or not to be."  William Shakespeare

Washoe (c. September 1965 – October 30, 2007) was a female common chimpanzee who was the first non-human to learn to communicate using American Sign Language—to a limited degree—as part of a research experiment on animal language acquisition...

Washoe and her mates were able to combine the hundreds of signs that they learned into novel combinations (that they had never been taught, but rather created themselves) with different meanings...  However, whether or not Washoe's combinations constitute genuine inventive language is controversial, as Herbert S. Terrace contended by concluding that seeming sign combinations did not stand for a single item, but rather were three individual signs.


Billy Beane, field managers should not be former players. Wake the heck up!  Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Terry Francona played in 708 big league games with 1,827 plate appearances over 10 years: 1981-1990. Francona has never been a general manager but has been a field manager for 14 years with Philadelphia, Boston (two championships) and currently Cleveland...

Today on WFAN radio in New York Fat Mike was interviewing Terry Francona.  They discussed the shift.  Francona said that Cleveland has data that shows they are saving runs by shifting against opposing batters.  Francona did not indicate how many runs or anything like that.  More importantly, neither Francona nor the interviewer addressed what should have been the obvious issue of whether Francona's team has achieved a net benefit from shifting against opponents but not having the basic common sense and fortitude to have their own batters combat the shift when it is deployed against Cleveland by hitting the other way or, preferably, bunting the other way.


Q&A: Travis Sawchik on ‘Big Data Baseball’ and the rise of the Pirates through analytics

The story of how the Pirates turned their whole profile around is about more than just improving the talent on the team and using analytic principles, it’s also about aligning an entire organization around a new approach.

Travis Sawchik covers the Pirates for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and is the author of the book “Big Data Baseball: Math, Miracles and the End of a 20-Year Losing Streak.

They were not an early adopter...

Dan Fox, who was with Baseball Prospectus and had a computer science background.

they tried to accelerate that as much as they could, and they saw the urgency in building that department ...

Mike Fitzgerald, the MIT alum, ... a central character ...

the Pirates’ competitive edge comes in with analytics. This really starts with (manager) Clint Hurdle and Dan Fox and their relationship...  Hurdle was ... still sort of skeptical – Hurdle’s kind of an old-school guy ... data started to trickle onto the field in the second half of 2012 – we saw defensive shifts increase a little bit by the end of that season...

In 2012, Hurdle was meeting with Fox at the start of every series. But by 2013, they were meeting every day and on the road having a conference call...  they started to have Fitzgerald do some traveling, and Fitzgerald made most of the trips in 2014...

The coaches developed more of a confidence in Fox and Fitzgerald and started to want more information from them...

One aspect that Dan Fox liked about Fitzgerald was he was a true outsider that had never played at the professional level or been in a major league baseball front office. He thought there was value in adding a completely different perspective to the analytics staff...

Fitzgerald was free of any baseball bias entering the Pirates’ organization – as basketball had been his primary sport of interest...

there’s been this “scouts vs. stats” debate going on since Moneyball...

the trust level with Fox and Fitzgerald and Hurdle and the coaching staff increase in 2013 ... that explains a lot of their success the last two years...

Even though baseball has tremendous amount of data, it’s still a business that’s about people and personalities

Analyst or chimp?