I've been getting some feedback that I need to write more about baseball in general, make it more interesting for non-Giant fans. Hey, if non-Giant fans are reading the blog at all, I'm pretty psyched, so thanks for reading.
Its hard not to be a homer, the Giants are my team. Participating in the ratings of top 100 players at John Sickels Minor League Ball community this year has been an exercise in objectivity. What stands out for me is that there is a very strong consensus of the top 25 prospects in baseball, and then it gets very subjective very quickly after that. The chatter I hear about teams promoting their guys to the various Big Listmakers stands out.
Three Stories On A Friday:
#1. Doug Fister left the game yesterday with a lat strain. Fister has not had a good spring, and he almost certainly will not start the season on the bump. So the question is: did Detroit have an inkling there was some wear and tear? The trade sending him to Washington was widely seen as the steal of the offseason, netting the Tigers Robbie Ray, Ian Krol and Steve Lombardozzi. In an interesting move, the Tigers sent Lombardozzi back to the beltway to the O's, for Alex Gonzalez. That's an interesting strategy by the O's - sign up a aged vet on a minor league deal, then deal him.
With Fister hurt, the pendulum of trade victory swings back to the Tigers. How fast does this Robbie Ray throw? What's his deal? Low-90s lefty with a sweet mustache. Middle of the rotation type with a slurvy slider and good change. At the time of the trade I was looking at Lombardozzi as the sleeper type in the deal, but if he's getting shuffled off for Alex Gonzo the Sea Bass that wasn't what the Tigers were valuing. I also refused to see the Tigers GM as the dummy in the whole thing, although every GM will make a bad trade here and there. To quote Scarface a tad: "Maybe Sosa knows something..."
#2. How's those Dodgers Station affiliate round up going? Well, the Pay TV providers are balking, putting out pretty decent PR campaigns to counter Time Warner's "Get your Dodgers now and Get Off My Lawn" pressure tactics. WSJ Story Here's the money quote: "Armed with information about their customers' viewing habits, other
distributors say the data doesn't support paying such a high price for a
channel that an overwhelming majority of their subscribers won't watch
regularly. They say they aren't worried about backlash from customers if
the channel isn't available, and they show no signs of blinking as the
Dodgers prepare to open the season in Australia on March 22."
Even those chablis drinking reporters at NPR have picked up on this: the money quote: "Andy Albert, a senior vice president for Cox, says it is not just the
Dodgers fans they have to consider in their negotiations. He says that
Los Angeles-area subscribers are already paying "pretty close to $20"
per month for the sports channels Cox carries there. "And a lot of those
[subscribers] aren't sports fans," he points out."
And here was my main point as I was covering this the first time: "As more teams and leagues move to their own special networks, providers
are beginning to fear that there might be a breaking point. Cable bills
are growing four times faster than inflation, and they already average
about $100 a month." ESPN is eventually going to price itself out of basic TV. The Golden Goose is sure coughing it up right now though. The psychology of a Pay TV bill above 100 bucks is a big mark.
And finally, LA Weekly has some workarounds for frustrated Dodger Fans. Mainly, pay Selig and his minions on the interwebz! LA Times has an older article with some more details. The thing that is dishonest to me is that reporters know full well that the Dodgers and Time Warner actually have aggressive plans to make the Channel accelerate to $8 a month rather quickly, within 4-5 years. That little fact is not mentioned, a version of pulling your punches.
I live in Los Angeles, when I cruise neighborhoods I look to see how old the residents are by peeking at the old school TV set up on the roof versus the sat dish. You would be amazed at how many old school set ups are still in effect. The Dodgers taking their games off "free" TV 50 games a year is a pretty big slap in the face to long time Angelenos, and it will be a shock to the system.
#3. The Nationals cut Chris Young (maybe a bad move now with Fister hurt?) and the Mariners snatch him up quick. With Iwakuma and Walker both hurt, the Mariners had to plug in somebody. There are very few teams in baseball that can stash extra arms. The Dodgers and their crazy money are the Gold Standard for that move. But I'd like to highlight not only Walker being hurt, but Jurickson Profar, and Oscar Taveras. Byron Buxton went down with an injury the other day, Miguel Sano is out for the season. You can have highly rated prospects, keeping them healthy is a bit of a crapshoot. There is some chatter that the "next frontier" of sabermetrics is player health. Here's what I got on that: the Giants have been able to (big knock on the desk right now) be relatively healthy. But this isn't something that stats geeks have any control over. This is the area of the jocks, the seed spitters who make minute adjustments to arm angles or stride lengths. A good trainer is vital to clubs, but that's always been the case. Maybe getting the players to give full reports on injury to get more advanced treatment faster is the way to go. So a softening of some traditional lines? In one of the most traditional and competitive sports in existence? Where there are lines and lines of players trying to get a shot? Good luck, I bet the communication comes more from aged vets who have earned their money and have a good contract.