mlb logo feature[Like I mentioned yesterday, still looking for an ideal tag for these posts. Lots of good suggestions so far. Still mulling it over.]

The pitcher/catcher reporting date for a number of teams is tomorrow. That’s crazy. And awesome.

  • The big news today is the official apology from Alex Rodriguez regarding his now-served suspension for all kinds of PED violations. Unfortunately, the apology did not come in the form of a press conference featuring questions and answers (answers he will now almost certainly not give when he reports to Spring Training), but instead came in the form of a short, hand-written note:

  • You can read the full note there at MLB.com’s link, but, if you’ve seen an apology like this before, you don’t really need to. There’s nothing in it. No real contrition or specifics or heartfelt honesty. I’m not sure anyone expected anything otherwise, and it’s certainly not like I need an apology; but, at a press conference, it’s possible we might have seen a little humanity from a guy whom outsiders see as wearing the cowl of a super villain. Now, when Rodriguez is confronted with the inevitable questions, he can just point to the statement and say, “I’ve said all I’m going to say about that, and now I just want to move forward with baseball.” Lame. Maybe it will be effective. But it’s lame. Done properly, history has shown time and again that if you bear yourself to the public to open up about your mistakes – honestly and earnestly – it can be a whole lot better than hiding behind cursive blue pen (as if that makes it somehow more personal). I’ll be fair and say there are undoubtedly legal reasons Rodriguez can’t go into too much detail about the whole story, but I feel like he could have done a lot more than this. Oh well.


  • On to a much more interesting piece: an article by C.J. Nitkowski on the full meaning of signing a minor league deal, something about which we speak rather glibly at times. There is so much that goes into the decision from the player’s perspective that gets very little discussion in spaces like this (because, for obvious reasons, we tend to be more focused on the team’s perspective). It is a great read, and also includes a fair bit of factual information about the process that’s good to have in your back pocket.


  • It’s no secret that pitcher WAR comes with some inherent difficulties with respect to meting out how much value should be assigned to the pitcher, to the catcher, and to the defense, and also how we factor in sequencing. At the Hardball Times, Jeff Zimmerman discusses these issues, and attempts to discern the best way to calculate pitcher WAR. Although he doesn’t come to a direct conclusion, he does highlight the issues in a way that helps us understand potential flaws in the way we – yes, even we statistically-inclined thinkers – are evaluating pitcher performance.
  • In the Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, there’s a section on trying to identify “intelligent” players, using a handful of factors, which Scott Lindholm then actually calculated for modern players over at Beyond the Box Score. It’s an interesting read, though I take issue with the idea that a player who strikes out a ton – and walks relatively little – necessarily skews “unintelligent.” Given what we know about the difficulties of hitting, a player’s physical abilities/limitations probably have much more to do with his K/BB ratio than his thinking process. Of course, from there you can get into a whole side conversation about what is “intelligence” in the baseball context (and about whether this kind of analysis is really about “intelligence” or “hustle” or something else entirely). All in all, it makes for interesting discussion.
  • Not every player shows up to Spring Training “in the best shape of his life”:

  • Obviously that’s just a play on the classic and often meaningless conditioning phrase that we see every year around this time, but Sandoval is a big dude. Observing his physique in the years after he signed his large contract with the Red Sox is probably going to be interesting, especially if he’s going to keep playing third base.


  • After 20 years in the bigs, Jason Giambi is retiring. He is going to be yet another interesting Hall of Fame case. On his numbers, alone, he is a plausible yes. But he was linked to PEDs, which has made guys in recent years an obvious no. But he was among the first guys connected to PEDs to very publicly own up to it and take his medicine (no pun intended). On the balance, I say ‘nah,’ but mostly on the numbers.



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