March 21, 2018

Sale, Price, Porcello To Begin Season In Tampa Bay

Starting Pitchers:
Thu March 29 at Rays: Chris Sale, 4 PM
Fri March 30 at Rays: David Price, 7 PM
Sat March 31 at Rays: Rick Porcello, 6 PM
Sun April  1 at Rays: TBA (Eduardo Rodriguez/Steven Wright/Drew Pomeranz), 1 PM
Mon April  2 at Marlins: Brian Johnson, 7 PM
Tue April  3 at Marlins: Sale, 6 PM
Wed April  4: Off

March 20, 2018

Martinez And Stanton Are Both "Glittery", But Only The Yankees Hitter Provokes A "Gulp"

Rosie DiManno, Toronto Star, March 18, 2018:
It might be a prudent budget [for the Blue Jays, at $155 million] but it is without any glittery off-season acquisitions, like the Yankees landing, gulp, Giancarlo Stanton and the Red Sox countering with J.D. Martinez.
While both acquisitions are glittery, only Stanton warrants a "gulp".

Which is somewhat odd (assuming DiManno is not saying that simply because Stanton wears pinstripes), since Martinez bested Stanton last season in average (.303 to .281), slugging (.690 to .631), OPS+ (166 to 165), wOBA (.430 to .410), and wRC+ (166 to 156, despite Stanton's MLB-leading 59 dongs), and tied him with a .376 on-base percentage.

Martinez and Stanton have each slugged .580 since the beginning of the 2015 season, but in those three years, the Red Sox's new designated hitter comes out on top in the lists that sportswriters look at: average (.296 to .265), on-base percentage (.363 to .354), OPS (.943 to .934), total bases (863 to 748), doubles (94 to 64), RBI (274 to 273), and runs scored (247 to 226). He has even played in more games (397 to 352).

Stanton has a few more home runs (113 to 105) and a slightly better OPS+ (150 to 148). He has walked more (169 to 155) while striking out less (398 to 434). Stanton is also two years younger (28 to 30), which is significant. ... He also seems to have a much better PR team.

March 17, 2018

Everyone Loves A Contest #22: 2018 Red Sox W-L

With Opening Day less than two weeks away (March 29), it's time for this year's Red Sox W-L Contest!

The person that correctly guesses Boston's 2018 regular season W-L record will win a (used, but very nice) copy of Bill James's This Time Let's Not Eat The Bones: Bill James Without The Numbers (Villard Books, 1989). (Almost 500 pages of James discussing teams, players, and various ideas from 30-35 years ago! How can you resist?)

Contest entries must be emailed to me and include the following two items:

1. Predicted 2018 W-L record
2. Tiebreaker: Total Bases by J.D. Martinez

As always, the winning W-L prediction must be exact. The tiebreaker winner, if needed, will be the closest guess, either over or under.

Deadline: Wednesday, March 28, 11:59 PM.

Good luck to everyone ... and fuck the Yankees.

March 15, 2018

Price Thrilled With Four Shutout Innings In First Spring Start

David Price, in his first start of the spring, was sharp. In four shutout innings against the Blue Jays on Thursday afternoon, he allowed only one hit and one walk, while striking out five.

ESPN's Scott Lauber wrote that Price "established his fastball and cutter early on, then incorporated his changeup and even his curveball the second time through the batting order".

Price (who appeared in only 16 games last season and did not make a start after July 22) was thrilled with his 55-pitch performance. "I've never been able to have a four-pitch mix on March 15. I've never been this far along in spring training, even though I've only thrown in one game."

Manager Alex Cora agreed: "From the dugout, it looked like his misses were just by an inch. He was on target. ... Very impressive for his first outing in a real environment, not a controlled one. ... Physically he looks like he's right where he has to be and now we move forward."

MFY Watch: Aaron Judge and Aaron Boone. Morons.

March 14, 2018

The Beginning Of The End

I have been a Boston Red Sox fan for 42 years and for most of that time I was skeptical - often extremely so, and with very good reason - that I would ever see a World Series championship. All I really wanted to was to see one.

And I have witnessed three! My obsession with the team has certainly lessened during the thirteen seasons since 2004 and that is probably a good thing. If I had to, I could comfortably live the rest of my life without major league baseball. Which is good to know, because I can sense that the day I sever my relationship with the sport might not be too far over the horizon.

The Associated Press reported today that "extra innings throughout the minor leagues will start with a runner at second base".
"We believe these changes to extra innings will enhance the fans' enjoyment of the game and will become something that the fans will look forward to on nights where the game is tied late in the contest," NAPBL president Pat O'Conner said in a statement. ...

The runner at second will be the batter in the order prior to that inning's leadoff hitter... A runner who starts an extra inning at second shall be counted as reaching on an error for purposes of determining earned runs, but no errors shall be charged.
Today is not April 1. This is really happening. And it is so far beyond fucked up ...

Craig Calcaterra, NBC Sports:
The runner-on-second rule is taken from the World Baseball Classic and has been tested in the Gulf Coast League and Arizona League. Last year, for what it's worth, Rob Manfred said he doubted the rule would ever be used in the majors, but the fact that it's moving up to Triple-A suggests that his mind may be changing.
What Manfred said was: "We don't really expect that we're ever going to apply them at the major league level, at least in the short term"

Do you trust Rob Manfred not to one day decide to reconsider that policy? I certainly don't.

And neither does SB Nation's Matt Collins: "Every sign is pointing towards this eventually coming to the majors, though. Manfred has said that won't happen, but I find that hard to believe at this point given how quickly this rule is expanding to different levels of the game."

Regular Season Games - 2,430
Extra Inning Games - 182 (7.5%)
Games Lasting 10 Innings - 87 (3.68%)
Games Lasting 11 Innings - 51 (2.1%)
Games Lasting 12 Innings - 20 (0.8%)
Games Lasting 13 innings - 12 (0.5%)
Games Lasting 14+ Innings - 12 (0.5%)
7.5% of a team's schedule is 12 out of 162 games. That's two games per month, one game going into extra innings every two weeks. ... And almost half of those extra inning games - 48% - last season were over after 10 innings.

In fact, only 44 out of 2,430 games lasted more than 11 innings: 1.8%. ... 2 out of every 100 games last season (an average of three per team) went into the 12th inning. ... And for THAT, Commissioner Rob Manfred wants to destroy the very fundamentals of the game that have been in place for almost 150 years.

Also: If both teams begin every extra inning with a man on second, then they have an equal chance to score. Just like they do now, starting off with the bases empty. In other words, there is no actual advantage being gained here to have games end quicker. There will simply be more games in which each team scores 1 or 2 or however many runs in an extra inning and the game - still tied - goes on.

March 10, 2018

MLB Cannot Do Anything Right (25 Games To Be Shown Exclusively On Facebook)

Major League Baseball is laughably inept. Everything they do to promote the game - almost without exception - manages to piss off a lot of people who are already fans, while the gain in new followers is dubious. (Perhaps "laughably" is the wrong word, since we love the sport and generally despise how MLB runs it. How about "sadly" or "as expected, based on past history"?)

MLB's latest attempt to "grow the game" is to allow Facebook the exclusive right to stream 25 games this season. Facebook will pay between $30-35 million for these rights, an agreement that was approved unanimously by team owners. The games will be shown on Facebook Watch, which is devoted to original programming. (Facebook aired 20 non-exclusive games last season*.)

The 25 games will be on weekday afternoons, primarily Wednesdays. Four April games have been announced: April 4 (Phillies/Mets), April 11 (Brewers/Cardinals), April 18 (Royals/Blue Jays), and April 26 (Diamondbacks/Phillies). During these broadcasts, Facebook will experiment with graphics and "enhancements popular with younger viewers drawn to digital platforms". That sounds extremely promising!

About those "younger viewers" ... Liz Roscher of SB Nation remains skeptical about the success of that angle:
MLB is desperately trying to gain the loyalty of younger fans, and going to Facebook just isn't the way to do that. While Facebook has a significant number of users in the 25-34 age range, the average user in the U.S. is over 40. ... It's [also] a move that's going to alienate some of the fans they already have. Those Facebook games are only available on Facebook, and not on any local TV network or even MLB.TV.
The big question is: Could MLB have been smart enough to avoid including games featuring teams with the largest fan bases, like the Red Sox and Yankees?

*: On May 19, 2017, Facebook attempted to stream its first game. However, "a manual error related to the geographic targeting of the game" meant fans in Washington, DC, were unable to watch. A Facebook representative: "Tonight's MLB broadcast on Facebook was unintentionally not made available to people in the Washington D.C. area. We apologize for the mistake ..."