Did you let go of the banana yet?
Indians Changing Name … Eventually
Yesterday, the Cleveland Indians made a whole bunch of news when they confirmed that they’ve decided to change their name. Some people freaked out – expectedly – but largely the decision was lauded as the right one. The team had already done away with the Chief Wahoo logo and this was the natural next step. Buuuuuuuut not so fast.
Because although the team has decided to change their name because it is “no longer acceptable” in our world, they haven’t yet decided what they’re changing to or even when that’s going to happen. You can read the owners full statement on the decision here, but … I mean … how are you going to say it’s no longer acceptable to have the team name in the same breath as you concede the change isn’t coming for over a year?
Listen, I’m happy they ended up in the right place, but Owner Paul Dolan claims this was a decision at the end of a process that began in JUNE. So for seven months you decided whether or not you were going to change the name and then the only result was “Yes, we will at some point in the future” … ?
Oh, hey, and in the meantime, we’ll be selling not only more merchandise that says “Indians,” but also the Chief Wahoo logo!” GET YOURS TODAY.
"As part of our ongoing commitment to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, it is our intention to donate profits from the sale of Chief Wahoo merchandise to Native American-focused organizations and causes." (2/2)
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) December 14, 2020
I think a better approach would have been to – in one fell swoop – announce a team name change and move past it. Instead, they’ve admitted that the name is wrong, but still intend to use it for a full year. And not only that, they’ll sell merchandise of the name AND the retired logo. Sure, the profits are going to Native-American focused organizations and causes, but (1) “profit” is one of those words that has a lot of room for interpretation, and (2) they’re just putting more racist Chief Wahoo logos out into the wild. Dumb.
Expansion Held Off?
When the Phillies hired Dave Dombrowski to be their President of Baseball Operations, people within the industry were a little surprised. Until recently, his official position on any such offer was “Thanks, but no thanks.” Why? Because Dombrowski was part of the group trying to bring a baseball team to Nashville, Tennessee, an objective he figured to accomplish as soon as December 2021’s Winter Meetings (i.e. one year from now).
So then his decision to join the Phillies might be seen as a sign that expansion has been put on the back-burner. Oh, well, and so will his words saying precisely as much:
“It’s a situation where the timing due to [Covid-19], the uncertainty space in the game, it wasn’t going to take place in the timeframe of 2021 presentations,” Dombrowski said. “And timeframe: to be determined. Pushed back a little bit.”
He still think it’s a matter of when not if MLB expands (and includes Nashville in those plans), but clearly this has been pushed back and apparently because of COVID-19.
But that’s where things get even weirder. Most people thought COVID-crunched budgets would bring about expansion SOONER rather than later precisely because each new team would have to present a $1 billion fee to enter the league (Rosenthal). And considering that Rob Manfred estimated $3 billion in loses last year, the fees from two new teams would makeup for two-thirds of their internally reported losses (which, let’s be honest, were possibly generous in the first place).
Expansion is coming, but I guess we’ll have to wait? We’ll see. Maybe Dombrowski was just wrong?
Dan Szymborski is making his way though MLB with his annual ZiPS projections, and although he hasn’t gotten to the Cubs just yet, he has reached the NL Central.
You can check out the Reds ZiPS projections right here – their rotation looks fine(ish) … presuming they don’t actually trade away Sonny Gray, and their bullpen looks fairly strong, but the position player outlook is weak. When Eugenio Suarez (3.6 fWAR) is your best overall position player and he’s projected for under 4.0 WAR, there’s much to be desired (that is, unless he finds a way to play the Cubs 162 times a year).
But it’s the Brewers I’d like to examine more closely:
— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) December 10, 2020
Their ZiPS projections for the rotation feature a nice foundation with Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes, and is otherwise optimistic on Adrian Houser and Josh Lindblom’s ability to contribute. Meanwhile, the bullpen still features two extremely dominant arms in Josh Hader and Devin Williams, and thus the bullpen, as a whole, has the fourth-highest projection of the 19 teams projected so far. But, once again this year, the offense is pretty meh.
Christian Yelich is roundly expected to bounce back in a big way, taking a 112 wRC+ in 2020 back up to something closer to 135 (usually good enough to be clear all-star level). And they’ll of course return Lorenzo Cain, who had opted out of 2020: .276/.344/.383 projected with great defense.
Beyond that, though, only Dan Vogelbach (112 OPS+), Logan Morrison (102 OPS+), Keston Hiura (102 OPS+) project as above-average offensive contributors. And I’d argue the former comes with a LOT of questions about that ability while the latter two are just a hair above average.
Basically, without any key additions this offseason, the Brewers are not likely to recapture the division the way they did in 2018 (even with their bullpen/rotation mashup magic).
A-Rod’s Vision for the Mets?
I don’t even fully know how to explain Alex Rodriguez’s vision for the Mets, which died when Steve Cohen’s bid beat A-Rod and J-Lo’s, but it sounds like it would’ve been a nightmare for Mets fans (emphasis mine):
“When we looked at the Mets, we looked at it is intellectual property,” Rodriguez said, via Mike Rosenstein of NJ.com. “We looked at this like an entertainment sports media platform. And we thought baseball was just a small part of it. But through Jennifer, we could drive the music with Live Nation business at Citi Field. With e-commerce we thought we had Mark Lloyd, best in class, what he’s done with Walmart, we could do the same with the Mets.
Listen, I’m sure it would have been more about baseball than he hyped there, but what kind of message is that? Apparently, they wanted to buy the team for $2.35 billion, because they thought they could make it into a “$10 or $15 billion holding company.” Okie dokie.
Odds and Ends
• MLB.com has a really fun post up identifying the most home runs by a player from each country in the world. Sammy Sosa (609) comes up short of Albert Pujols (662) for the honor in the Dominican Republic. Other fun ones: Chili Davis (350 HRs, Jamaica) and Didi Gregorius (120 HRs, Netherlands).
• SPIN RATE HOLIDAY:
Bloom shirt actually says "Spin Rate" with a dreidel between the words. A baseball-themed Hanukkah t-shirt. Pretty, pretty, pretty good.
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) December 14, 2020
• Baseball visualized geographically:
With the reorganization of the minor leagues underway and dozens of teams facing league changes, new affiliations or, in some cases, the end of their existence, @_Ben_Clemens and @megrowler visualized the country's new baseball map, and who's losing what. https://t.co/XgJRUcCn0R
— FanGraphs Baseball (@fangraphs) December 14, 2020
• This would not be easy to hit:
Mans is filthy with the bottle caps pic.twitter.com/SeG7w8dDtA
— Shit Bsb Players Say (@ShitBsbPlyrsSay) December 12, 2020