137 thoughts on “BASEBALL!”

  1. Buster Olney believes that the Braves have the easiest early schedule in the National league:

    Games vs. teams with records of .500 or better in 2013: 12 of first 40.
    Home/away: 21 of first 40 are at home.
    Notables: Last season, the Braves traveled a ton in the first half of the season, making early trips to the West Coast. This year, Atlanta doesn’t have its first West Coast swing until mid-May — the Braves play in only the Eastern and Central time zones through May 11 — before making a three-game swing through San Francisco.

    http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/buster-olney/post?id=5154

  2. Bad News Mets: Jonathon Niese, the club’s only left-handed starting pitcher, felt pain in his tricep & returned to NYC for an MRI.

  3. Chris Johnson doubles, Dan Uggla singles, Andrelton Simmons walks, Braves up 1-0. We can build on this.

    That’s a shame. I sort of like Niese. I think he’s underrated, which is kind of astonishing for a professional athlete in New York.

  4. The niceties of Jonathan Niese notwithstanding, no ill wind that blows the Mets’ way can be truthfully described as “a shame.” Because, Mets.

  5. Glad to see El Oso is in midseason form. And BJ Upton struck out before Gattis doubled Jason in, so BJ’s also in midseason form.

  6. BJ is definitely much improved over last year. He only struck out once in 2 at bats. That is a major improvement!

  7. As a public service to folks like me who rely on normal TV (cable/satellite) for Spring Training games I give you this link to the games which are supposed to be broadcast this Spring. Hopefully this saves someone from having to bother with the goolging I just did.

  8. Difficult to make a better first impression than Juan Jaime. 1 inning, 8 pitches, 8 strikes, 0 balls, 2 strikeouts. If he can only keep that up through the regular season, he’ll have a pretty good year! (-;

  9. Rain delay with two outs in the bottom of the 9th. Just call the game so we can win it and go out to eat. Or just the latter.

  10. Mike Trout deal: 1 year, $1 million.

    From the LA Times: The Angels signed outfielder Mike Trout to a one-year, $1-million contract on Wednesday, avoiding the rancor of the renewal process and setting the stage for agreement on a long-term extension later this spring.

    By setting Trout’s 2014 salary now, the Angels can start the long-term deal in 2015. That enables the Angels to avoid a luxury-tax assessment this season

  11. I guess I’ll be the first to say it. We lost our first spring training game to the Tigers! We’re dooooooooooooomed!

  12. Guys like Carl Pavano make you realize that if you stick around as a perfectly average starting pitcher, you’ll make a ton of money.

    Pavano went 108-107 with a 4.39 ERA (ERA+ 96) & earned nearly $64 M in his career. (That includes a disastrous & injury-riddled stint in The Bronx when he earned $38 M in 4 years. Results: 9-8 with 5.03 ERA in only 145 IP.)

    He did earn his WS ring by pitching well for the Marlins in their ’03 post-season run—and he did date Alyssa Milano. So there’s that, too…

  13. “Pavano went 108-107 with a 4.39 ERA (ERA+ 96) & earned nearly $64 M in his career. (That includes a disastrous & injury-riddled stint in The Bronx when he earned $38 M in 4 years. Results: 9-8 with 5.03 ERA in only 145 IP.)”

    Nice work if you can get it.

  14. Wow… playing baseball.

    I got stuck in a corridor of wind between campus buildings today. It might have been the coldest I’ve ever been. Spring training and even opening day just have a different feel to them (for me) in the midwest.

  15. Also, baseball is not by any means an ‘efficient market’. There is no competing league that you can go to, to sell your services, if you are not happy with the offerings of MLB. And yes, I know there are the Japanese leagues, Mexican league baseball, among others, but they are not equals with MLB (not to slight them – but Mike Trout couldn’t – wouldn’t – decide to go to Japan, and suddenly get $40 million/year). And the MLB system has 6 years of club ‘ownership’ (not a kind word, but I think descriptive of the below-‘market’ pay that players get before free agency), before players can cash in on free agency. But getting back to my original point – all of these factors make it where the MLB system is not, in any real meaningful sense, a ‘free market’. It is a market with specific rules in place that are there to enrich players and owners in a (mainly) cooperative, though sometimes aggressively antagonistic, effort.
    And I know that you could apply a similar overlay or mindset to most aspects or areas where there are markets in our society (ie saying something like ‘America is not a free market system because of excessive regulation/fat cat greed/or whatever is your pet peeve’). And I’d better stop now because I’m probably getting close to breaking the no-politics rule (which is not my intent).
    But I think the bigger point still stands – MLB is not a system that could be considered a ‘free market system’, much less one that fits the ‘efficient market’ standard. Feel free to disagree (it is the internet after all)…

  16. The efficient markets hypothesis is basically the idea that in the long run, no individual can consistently “beat the market” given that money follows information in high volumes and most arbitrages are quickly accounted for. It doesn’t really have anything to say about whether a given specific asset is priced correctly.

    Thus, if you’re a team owner and you have a guy who promises guaranteed 10% returns year-over-year while the market itself is not growing at such a pace, you should probably assume you’ve got a scammer for an investment guru.

    What I’m saying is, efficient markets hypothesis = LOLMets.

  17. As (I think) the only professional economist posting here (Sam is ornery enough to be one, but doesn’t use enough meaningless jargon) the only thing that “efficiency” means in the case of Trout, or anybody else, is that the sum of Trout’s net satisfaction and every other team’s net satisfaction is maximized. And that includes teams in Japan, as well as, say, Google, if Trout would rather work there, and he has skills Google values highly enough. Jonathan is correct that the MLB rules may temporarily impose a constraint that makes the labor market inefficient, so that the sum of Trout’s and some other club’s potential satisfaction would be higher (but it would be hard to tell — efficiency works on the sum, not on each parties satisfaction). But (1) it’s temporary; and (2) the constraint, in principle, serves other aggregate goals — inefficiency is tolerated to keep the level of competitive balance up. Note, to WCG’s point, that satisfaction is measured at the time of the contract signing, not in the fullness of time, so LOLMets is still accurate.

  18. Sam,

    Jonathon was saying you speak to much truth to power to be an economist.

    I think, anyway.

  19. Considering that Major League Baseball is a private monopoly with a Supreme Court antitrust exemption, it’s about as far from an “efficient market” as you can have in America. Major League Baseball handpicks the owners it wants — that’s why a billionaire like Mark Cuban doesn’t have a team, while a cash-strapped incompetent like Fred Wilpon does — and it can use its weight to extract concessions from new owners who come into the league, like when Major League Baseball told Jim Crane that they’d only allow him to buy the Astros if he consented to move the Astros into the American League.

  20. Not to get all econ-geeky on you Alex, but monopolies behave efficiently with respect to their inputs — in this case, baseball players and owners. Where they behave inefficiently is with respect to the rest of the world. They underpay the players, mind you, but not inefficiently. If Mark Cuban really wanted to own a team badly enough, I guarantee there’s an indemnification level he could pay to the existing owners to get them to bite. It simply has to exceed the present value of diminution in future profits that would accrue from having Cuban as a “competitor.”

  21. As I understand it, efficient market theory relies functionally on rational actor theory. That is to say, in order for markets to be efficient, actors have to be rational. Therein lies your flaw. Anyone who thinks humanity behaves rationally hasn’t met a human. I mean, there exist in the world Mets fans. That alone is enough to blow “rational actor” theory out of the water. I mean, people not only willfully cheer for the Mets, they *raise their kids to do that shit too!*

  22. Sam, you tempt me to hijack this thread, nay, the entire website and retitle it “Braves Journal and Philosophy of Economics Roundtable.” Fortunately, I can resist the temptation, just about the only temptation I can resist. It’s bad enough that I prattle on about Yale hockey, struggling to get in the NCAA tournament this year, doncha know.

  23. What’s more unlikely, 1) BJ Upton walks and scores, 2) Ryan Doumit triples, or 3) Yale actually wins a major sporting trophy in the NCAA?

  24. Are you counting that thing where the slap frozen cow dung around a frozen lake as a “major” trophy?

  25. They list those as “claimed national championships” because no one actually has written records going back to the Reconstruction era when Yale “claims” all of theirs.

  26. Well, my reference to efficient markets theory was supposed to be sort of a joke about Pavano. I guess I should have put a smiley face. I don’t know enough about economics to be making technical arguments about it; I was just being a bit ironic about how many people think markets will automatically adjust to produce the maximal result. And I understand that MLB is not a free market (is there such a thing)? And, anyway, I don’t believe that markets-free or not-are always efficient.

    I work with enough economists that I should know better than to make an offhand comment about economics. :)

  27. “But I point you to Yale’s 1888 season: 13-0, 694 points scored, none allowed. Who, pray tell, was National Champion that year?”

    Alabama. Roll Tide, y’all.

    You guys are just lucky we don’t claim every national championship from the beginning of time and dare you to stop us from doing so.

  28. yuh-ay-ul

    I count three.

    I dated an eli for a long time so I have a little something to add:

    1.) She was awful, and therefore all elis are awful at everything
    2.) New Haven is the worst.
    3.) The food at Berkeley is pretty good though.

  29. Why date an awful person for “a long time”? I mean, I get that in the short-term there may be other considerations (call it “asymmetric information”, if you want to slightly misuse a term from economics jargon), but after a couple weeks, you’d hopefully figure that stuff out….

  30. The food at Berkeley is great. And I really miss Modern Apizza, which is, considering the respective wait times at Pepe’s and Sally’s, the best pizza in New Haven that you can get into in less than 20 minutes.

    I know I’m not saying anything mind-blowingly original, but Cottonseed by the Drive-By Truckers is a ridiculously good song.

  31. I’m sure that if the ancient Greeks ever approach by trireme Yale and Harvard scullers will be there to protect us.

  32. @55

    Well, it was when I was 18 and 19 years old, and she was my first everything. I had no idea at the time that people were supposed to treat each other well.

    Ten years removed and almost 5 great years into a marriage, it’s safe to say I learned my lesson.

    But gosh what an awful time I gave myself back then.

  33. I stayed with an awful person for way too long because she was much better looking than me and because I loved her dog. Life is complicated.

  34. @62,

    You aren’t the first guy that thought with another part of his anatomy than his brain.

  35. Hey all! My first post is up over at Tomahawk Take! Please take the time to read it and give me your feedback. I’d like for all of you to be honest. I’ve never been a writer before and I could use some tips. I thoroughly respect the people on this site and will take all praises and constructive criticisms I can get.

    My email is cothrjr at Hotmail dot com

    Thanks! Here’s the link!

    http://tomahawktake.com/2014/03/01/atlanta-braves-ideal-25-man-roster-part-1-of-7/

  36. Since this seems to be an occasionally recurring theme these days, for March I would suggest:

    Lydia Loveless – Somewhere Else
    Jimbo Mathus & The Tri-State Coalition – Dark Night Of The Soul
    St. Paul and the Broken Bones – Half The City

    If you want to step out of the Americana roots stuff, you can punk it up with either:

    Eagulls – Partisan Records, or
    Perfect Pussy – s/t

  37. Edit (after the edit function is closed) to #66:

    The Eagulls record is self-titled, released by Partisan Records.
    The PP record is titled “Say Yes To Love.”

  38. Seems unlikely the Braves and Nats will have a 16-15 kind of game when real games start.

  39. Who or what is a Yenier Bello? 28 year old Cuban catcher, it seems. Is Laird hurt worse than it appears or is this just extra backup until Bethancourt is ready? Or is there some real concern about Gattis?

  40. Thanks Rusty. The Braves are about to sign a 29-year old catcher fro Cuba. It doesn’t sound promising on the surface and recent reports have Cuba’s professional league grading out to about High-A ball, but here’s some positives after dissecting his stats:

    http://cuban-play.com/estadisticas/labor-de-por-vida-en-series-nacionales/yenier-bello-veloso

    1. The first thing that jumps off the page at me is his CS%, 50% for his CAREER! That’s very good in any league.
    2. His K rate is low for a power hitter, only striking out about 1 out of every 10 plate appearances.
    3. I’d be willing to bet his up and down OPS year to year has more to do with BABIP differentiation, not actual hot and cold streaks.
    4. The seasons are much shorter so looking at the data compiled over the last 6 years and averaging that out to a 130-game regular season (about 500 PA and probably about the amount of games a starting catcher would catch), you get this:
    .281/.329/.468 with 18 doubles, 2 triples, 22 HR 84 RBI

    I guess we will know more when he starts playing on American soil! If signed, he apparently have a ST invite.

  41. @65 – I enjoyed the article. It may be nitpicking, but since the article is about Braves roster options, it’s a bit redundant to subtitle each player section as “Atlanta Braves’ so-and-so”.

    In all other respects, congratulations on your first article!

  42. @74
    Thanks dirt napper. That was the editor’s choice and apparently has much more to do with catching search engines eyes than anything else.

  43. Ah, makes sense. As an IT guy myself, I understand the pull of the all important SEO.

  44. Over/under that Dodgers approach Braves about a trade for Uggla in the next few weeks?

  45. *I* could hardly be worse than The Hamster, and I’m hitting 50 this season and haven’t played competitive baseball since 8th grade.

  46. Noah Syndergaard, the big righty who pitched for the Mets today, is the latest topic of Super-2 conversation in Met-land.

    Make the club if he pitches well in Port St. Lucie? Or become a money-saving call-up later in the year?

    This being the post-Madoff Mets, run by “Fred Coupon,” we can pretty well guess which way they’ll go.

  47. Will the Braves ever win a pre-season game? Not that it matters, but they keep on losing. Atahualpa Severino? will probably fall short of his goal to serve as Kimbrel’s primary set up guy this year )-:. 1/3 of an inning with 5 hits and 5 runs doesn’t often ingratiate a player to his manager.

  48. Here’s a question: Who is the leader in the Braves clubhouse this year?

    McCann and Hudson are gone. The most senior non-bench players are Uggla and BJ Upton. Not sure how much respect you can command with a sub .200 batting average.

    Soooooo…. Chris Johnson? Laird? Everyone else is like 26 or younger.

  49. But seriously this is a Heyward/Freeman/Simmons team, I don’t care how young they are.

    Chris Johnson likes to lead with his helmet.

  50. The most talented player isn’t always the “clubhouse leader”. Sometimes they are too young, immature, or just don’t want that role. Have no idea if Freddie has taken the role on or not. Don’t remember many guys his age being that guy though.

    I don’t think this is a problem – I highly doubt this group is in danger of going all chickin ‘n beer. Just a topic for March.

  51. Jeter was, according to everyone on that club, including the established vets, front office & the manager.

    Freddie’s gonna be here awhile & he just seems like type. No way of knowing, of course, but he certainly puts forth an all-for-one posi-vibe.

  52. Braves Win! Braves Win! Braves Win!

    First spring training victory. As long as this win is followed up by at least 95 more during the regular season, I think the Braves will be okay.

  53. @94, Thanks Askia.

    This one stood out for me:
    Signing extensions with homegrown stars early in their careers has become common practice. The Braves, in the span of three weeks in February, took it to the extreme. They viewed several factors, some league-wide, some specific to their situation.

    Most important, they had the players. After conducting a study, the Braves found their players 25 and under generated 18.2 wins above replacement, Wren said. The next highest was the Los Angeles Angels with 12 — and 11 came from Mike Trout. The Braves had more WAR from their under-25 players than the lowest 11 teams in the majors combined.

  54. We used to go over the hitters before the game, and he told me, ‘Nothing inside on Bagwell.’ OK. So [now we’re ahead] and all of a sudden he wants to go in. And Bagwell hits a foul ball, like 500 feet. Next pitch he wanted to go in again. I’m thinking, ‘What’s his problem?’ And he hit a home run.

    “I was mad. I said, ‘What the hell, man?’ And he says, ‘Two months from now we’re going to play them in the playoffs because they have a good team and they’re going to make it. And he’s going to be looking for that pitch.’ I turned around and said, ‘Whatever, dude,’ and walked away. Two months later, we’re in the playoffs. I’d already forgotten about what happened.”

    But Maddux hadn’t forgotten and, just as significantly, neither had Bagwell. In the eighth inning of Game 1 of the ’97 NL Division Series between the Astros and Braves, Atlanta was clinging to a one-run lead. Houston had the tying run on second with two outs. Bagwell was at the plate. Maddux struck him out on changeups away.

    “We walk into the dugout and he says, ‘Hey, you remember two months ago? He was looking for that pitch,'” Perez said, laughing again.

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/atl/spring-training-mind-games-stephen-strasburg-kris-medlen-keep-quiet?ymd=20140304&content_id=68680292&vkey=news_atl

  55. @100, I prefer our guys to the Nats’, but it really largely depends on Giulito. Though their putting Bethancourt ahead of Alex Wood is simply insane. And they left off David Hale and Tommy La Stella and Luis Avilan altogether.

  56. Does anyone really think a team would just collapse because there isn’t a “clubhouse leader”? Sounds like one of those old meaningless baseball cliches, whose value gets way overrated.

  57. @101, I’d heard that story before, and it’s still a good one. I love those Maddux stories, like the one where he was in the dugout and predicted that the batter (can’t remember who) was going to pop out into foul territory (and of course he promptly did just that).

  58. I remember reading a story told by (I think) Glavine, that he and Maddux were sitting on the bench talking when Maddux told him to move because the next pitch was coming hard into the dugout. Glavine laughed at that and the next pitch was a liner foul that almost nailed him.

  59. In his prime, Greg Maddux was the only pitcher for whom I ever curtailed my social schedule to watch. Friends, family & significant others weren’t always amused, but I knew I was watching something special. (I could have worse habits, right?)

    And there were times when I could’ve sworn Maddux could read the hitters’ minds. It was like that “Gilligan’s Island” episode where they found the magic berries, but only #31 had access.

    I’ve never seen so many hitters take a fastball right down the middle for strike three. He’d have all-stars set up to be looking for anything & everything else, then he’d dismiss them like bushers. Hysterical.

    To paraphrase Skip, “He was the best.”

  60. @102: They left out a no-stuff should-be LOOGY with abysmal strikeout-to-walk rates and a non-prospect who had two good starts against the worst lineups in the NL? Scandal!

    Seriously, every organization in baseball has fungible garbage like Hale and Avilan hanging around their 40-man rosters. You don’t get points for that.

  61. @111 Is this serious? Avilan was ranked 9th on MLB Now’s Top Ten Relief Pitchers Right Now by The Shredder. That’s 9th in all of baseball. He had a 256 ERA+ last year, and has a career WHIP under 1, and you’re talking about K/BB ratios? Good heavens, man, get a hold of yourself.

  62. Avilan has been very good for two seasons now. He certainly benefits from having Simmons behind him, but so does the entire Braves staff, which means it doesn’t explain his performance relative to other Braves pitchers. And right now he’s the best Braves reliever not named Craig Kimbrel.

  63. Avilan is extremely lucky. That whole thing where he essentially never gives a home run is not a skill, and when it turns around, he could be demoted to middle relief or Gwinnett in a big damn hurry. Hale was striking out 6 men per nine innings at Triple A. I do see Avilan as a useful LOOGY, which is a nice thing to have for league minimum but nothing special. Hale looks like the definition of a replacement-level pitcher to me; keep him for org depth, but don’t pretend he’s actually worth anything on the basis of 11 innings against trash lineups last September.

  64. Not giving up home runs is absolutely a skill, just as much a skill as striking guys out and not walking people. I’m not saying that Avilan necessarily possesses that skill, and he’s likely due to give up more homers than the nearly none that he has given up to this point in his career but he didn’t give up a lot of home runs in the minors, either.

  65. @122 – Having a low flyball % as a pitcher is a repeatable skill. Having a low BABIP against (taking into account the batted ball profile of opposing hitters) is sometimes a repeatable skill, for pitchers with exceptional stuff. Having a low HR/FB% is very rarely a repeatable skill.

    Luis Avilan has succeeded thus far on the strength of an extremely low BABIP (.226, MLB average around .300), a high runners left on base rate (82%, MLB average in the low 70’s IIRC), and a crazy low HR/FB% (2.6%, MLB average around 10%).

    For reference, the respective BABIP/LOB/and HR/FB rates for two undeniably excellent lefty relievers:
    Venters – .289/79.6%/10.3%
    O’Flaherty – .285/76.5%/6.3%

    If you normalize Avilan’s batted ball luck towards league average (or even towards Venters/O’Flaherty territory) then you’re looking at a guy who’s a 3 ERA at best, perhaps even a true-talent 3.5-3.75 ERA.

  66. @I’ll take that for cheap any day. Certainly won’t be sending it back to the minors. Though league average BABIP for relief pitchers is usually a bit lower than for starters, and with his batted ball profile I see no reason he can’t continue to best the league average (albeit not to the degree he did in 2013).

  67. People like Maddux are savants. They have this one thing they are a genius at-in his case pitching. They may not be good at anything else in life but the thing they are good at they are amazingly good.

  68. Still looking for 1 team for our Braves Journal fantasy league. Email me at cothrjr at Hotmail dot com

    We have 13 teams so it’ll be a good competitive league.

  69. @ 112

    I was the same way when it came to appreciating Maddux, and the rest of our HOF rotation from the 90s. I was pretty young at the time, and for a while there I just assumed 2-hit shutouts were par for the course.

    Even worse still, I actually saw Maddux in hotel bar a couple of years back, and I couldn’t work up the nerve to say hello to the man. Instead, I just starred at him creepily for a good 15 minutes while I finished my beer.

  70. I once DJed a Halloween party (in New York) dressed as Greg Maddux.

    I was surprised that everyone knew who I was. (“I ha-a-a-a-te that guy!”) It was the glasses, I think.

  71. @112-

    I remember it taking a while for me to realize that an ERA of 2.50 wasn’t just “pretty good” and that 3.00 wasn’t “back of the rotation” quality.

    Talk about spoiled.

  72. I just noticed that the Braves opening day is in Milwaukee on 3/31, and that their next two games are in the two days following, no days off.

    I want to congratulate MLB for not scheduling an insipid off day between the first two games, but then I hear the sound of Chris Rock suggesting they shouldn’t get a cookie for doing what they’re supposed to do.

  73. Tanaka gives up a homer in his first start, to Babe Ruth reincarnated: Freddy Galvis. Yankee Nation panics.

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