November 13, 2016

Baseball Bloggers Alliance - 2016 American League Awards

 Yesterday I posted my National League votes, today I reveal the ones for the American League.

Connie Mack Award (Manager of the Year)
1. Jeff Bannister
2. Terry Francona
3. Scott Servais

I REALLY wanted to give this award to Tito. It would be very fitting with Dave Roberts getting the National League one, but I couldn't ignore facts. The Indians had five pitchers make 25 or more starts. The Rangers had two, and one of them had a losing record. They won the division by 9 games with a Pythagorean record that had them expected to win 82 games. I kept hearing that they weren't that good of a team, and their record was just smoke and mirrors -- and Jeff Bannister's influence, I guess.  The third choice was tough. Not a lot to pick from, I don't think any of the AL East playoff team managers really distinguished themselves this season.  Scott Servais made big strides in first year at the helm of the Mariners, and based on that he gets my last checkmark.

November 12, 2016

Baseball Bloggers Alliance - 2016 National League Awards

Every season I am entrusted with  a vote towards the the Baseball Bloggers Alliance annual awards.  As a Boston Chapter member, in past years I only voted for the AL awards. You can see how I voted previously here (and here, here, and here). But this year I get to have a say in the National League as well,  which I will share with you today.  In my next post, I will reveal my AL ballot along with fuller explanations for why I voted for whom I did.

The final results should be posted soon on the BBA site.

Connie Mack Award (Manager of the Year)
1. Dave Roberts
2. Dusty Baker
3. Don Mattingly

November 02, 2016

Why you Should Listen to your Opponent's fanbase

I'm copying most of this from a rant I posted on my other blog where I was really making a thinly-veiled political observation. But I used only baseball examples, so I thought with a few tweaks it was appropriate here:

An echo chamber is a place where ideas gain strength through repetition. A great place to find like-minded friends who all agree with you and reinforce your opinion. You have some slight belief in something, and before you know it, you are 100% convinced that it is inarguably correct based on all the feedback you hear. It can be a great place to boost your ego with so many people who share your worldview and make of those who like the other team.  But, it has its drawbacks. And they can have grave consequences.

The first time I became aware of this phenomenon, was when I learned of other people’s opinions of Tim McCarver

October 08, 2016

Game 3 of the ALDS is a MUST WIN Game

But not for the Red Sox.  The Red Sox are down 2-0 to the Cleveland Indians in their Division Series, so by any logical, reasonable, literal definition of "must win", game 3 is one.  Any elimination game is. When they were down 3-0 to the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, Game 4 was a literal "must-win", so was Game 5 and 6. Game 7 became one for both teams.   But this isn't what I'm talking about.  If Boston loses tomorrow, it will be disappointing. Any time a team makes the playoffs and doesn't win the last game they play, it's a disappointment.  Mets and Orioles fans are disappointed and before we crown another World Series Champion, seven other fanbases will be disappointed.

But this doesn't make tomorrow's Clay Buchholz start at Fenway Park a "MUST WIN" for the Red Sox.  Their fans have been disappointed before, and they will be disappointed again.  You can't win it all every season.  Even if we win five World Series in the next six years, we will be disappointed the other time.   And that's ok.  What is tougher to handle are the  heartbreaking, soul-crushing defeats when you think you are going to win and it's pulled out from other you. That takes all off-season to get over.  Sometimes it takes many seasons. Think Bucky Dent, Buckner or Boone.

October 03, 2016

Why the Cubs will NOT Win the World Series

The Curse of  the Billy Goat
(or why the Red Sox won't.  Or the Rangers or Nationals or Giants or Dodgers or Blue Jays or Orioles or Indians or Mets for that matter.  Insert any team name into the title, and this post still makes sense).*

At the trade deadline I had a post showing what the impact of a adding a player to a team would be on its likelihood to make the playoffs and/or win it all.  There were two separate points. One was that a single player, no matter how good, will not make a large difference in one team’s win totals over two months. The second, more interesting point, was to show how little of an edge a great team has over a good team in a playoff series.

I have updated the spreadsheet I used to calculate the odds in that post to show the actual season end records.   Here are the results:

September 24, 2016


Mike Trout should have 4 of these by now
The baseball regular season is nearing its end, and the MVP voter’s ballots are due soon.  And as usual there is a lot of talk about who should win and fans of individual players or teams make passionate arguments to convince others why they should vote for their guy.

What is the defined criteria for MVP?  Well, eligible voters are given the following guidelines: 

There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means. It is up to the individual voter to decide who was the Most Valuable Player in each league to his team. The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier.

The rules of the voting remain the same as they were written on the first ballot in 1931:
1.  Actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense.
2.  Number of games played.
3.  General character, disposition, loyalty and effort.
4.  Former winners are eligible.
5.  Members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.
You are also urged to give serious consideration to all your selections, from 1 to 10. A 10th-place vote can influence the outcome of an election. You must fill in all 10 places on your ballot. Only regular-season performances are to be taken into consideration.
Keep in mind that all players are eligible for MVP, including pitchers and designated hitters.
Ok, nothing too specific, but there is always the usual controversy over whether MVP means best player in the league, or most “valuable” to his team.

What’s the difference you may ask?  Well, when the best player in the league plays for a losing team, fans of a good player on a playoff team will use a variation of “Well, team X could have finished in last without player Y so how ‘valuable’ was he really?”  (By the way, this year X = Angels, Y = Mike Trout).

August 06, 2016

Big Papi's Farewell in Seattle Includes 1st Contract

Courtesy Twitter / @mariners 
In spite of David Ortiz having started his MLB career with the Twins, it was Seattle that signed him to his first professional contract. Back in 1992, the Mariners signed 17 year old David Arias as an amateur free agent.  But in the summer of 1996, they were a few games out of first place and wanting to increase their productivity from 3rd base, traded a player to be named later for Minnesota's Dave Hollins.  A few weeks later Ortiz was the player named to finalize the Hollins trade. The trade boosted the Mariners lineup a bit, but they still ended up 3 games out of a playoff spot.  Still, it was fairly unnoteworthy at a time, not many fans lamented that trade.  Alas, what could have been having Ortiz join the Mariners lineup in the late 90s with ARod, Griffey, Edgar and the rest.

Anyhow, prior to Wednesday night's game at Safeco the Mariners honored Ortiz and among other things gave him a framed copy of that first contract he signed. They also gave him a 34 pound salmon and some other stuff.

You can watch the whole video by clicking below:

August 01, 2016

Big Papi's last stop in Anaheim

Ortiz with a walkoff to clinch the 2004 ALDS against the Angels
(Courtesy Barry Chin / Globe Staff)
It's safe to say that this past weekend was the last time David Ortiz faced the Angels in his career. (In spite of Mike Trout, they ain't making the playoffs).  And he is probably lamenting that, as he has loved playing in Anaheim and against the Angels in his career, having many memorable moments. His first home run as a Red Sox came here in April 2003, when he pinch hit for Jeremy Giambi in the 14th inning and took a 2-0 pitch deep for the game winning home run (alas not a walkoff as those are infinitely harder to hit when you're on the road!).  And of course, no one will ever forget his extra inning Series winning walk off home run (pictured above, video heer)in the ALDS vs. the Angels in 2004 that helped propel the Red Sox to their first Championship in 86 years.  He also won the 2010 home run derby at Angel Stadium, defeating former and future teammate Hanley Ramirez while putting on a show hitting 32 balls out - which matches the total number of home runs he's hit against the Angels in 117 career starts.

Before Thursday's night Series opener, he was presented with a customized portrait by Mike Trout (doing his best Papi impersonation, wearing a big gold chain around his neck) and Albert Pujols which can be seen below:
(Courtesy of Jae C. Hong / AP)
You can enjoy the full video here

July 26, 2016

Why Trade Deadline Deals Make Little Difference

This is a random formula I found on fangraphs,
 which was NOT used in researching this article!
A series of twitter posts by fans who were convinced that the acquisition of Aroldis Chapman by the Cubs would guarantee them a World Series victory inspired this post.

Fans typically grossly overestimate how much difference a player can make to a team. And there are a couple of reasons why.  First of all, just using a basic WAR analysis, you can see that adding a superstar to replace an average player mid-season won’t make a huge difference in the odds of making the playoffs. For example, if you replaced Brock Holt with Mike Trout, based on their current season’s play extrapolated to end of season would give the Red Sox maybe 3 more wins.
If this seems doubtful consider an extreme, but simple case: Red Sox are losing by a run in the World Series in an NL park in extra innings with 2 outs, bases loaded and the pitcher’s spot due up.  David Ortiz is on the bench. Should you pinch hit?  OF COURSE, everybody knows you should, and it would be an immediately fireable offense for the manager to let the pitcher bat for himself. Assume Ortiz has a 35% chance of getting a hit and winning the game, and the pitcher is batting .150 (for simplicity, assume any hit will be a single that scores 2 runs, ignore walks and errors).  How much has pinch hitting increased your chance of winning?  Well, 65% of the time, Ortiz is going to make an out just like the pitcher would.  Also, 15% of the time the pitcher would get the winning hit just like Ortiz would.  It’s only the other 20% of the time that Ortiz will win the game where the pitcher batting wouldn’t.  Even in this extreme case, 80% of the time it doesn't matter that you have a better hitter at bat. 
But the other thing that fans and analysts often overestimate are the odds of a better team to beat an inferior team in a playoff series.  For example, a great 100 win team will beat a "barely made the playoffs" 90 win team only about 56% of the time in a single game1.  Using some basic math, this works out to them winning 61% of 3 of 5 Series and 63% of the time in a 7 game Series2.

If a team needs to win the LDS, LCS and WS, multiplying out the probabilities works out to under 25% probability that this team will win it all.  And that is assuming they get to play “weak” 90 win teams in all the Series.

June 24, 2016

Big Papi - Texas Farewell Completes Cowboy Costume

Unique pair of cowboy boots
(Courtesy Twitter @Rangers)
Last night was the Rangers turn to make a presentation to David Ortiz, during his last series in Texas. He already had his farewell in Houston, and this may be the last opportunity for Rangers fans to see him (barring a playoff visit).
He has loved to play at The Ballpark in Arlington, Ameriquest Field, Rangers Ballpark, Globe Life Park in Arlington, sporting a career .302 batting average and 19 HRs in just 57 career games there coming into this Series.

He also hit his first career home run there during his September 1997 callup with the Twins. Watch it here

Longhorn belt buckle
(Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)
Almost looks like a real Cowboy!
(Bob Levey/Getty Images)
The Rangers gave him a pair of cowboy boots and a buckle, which will go well with the cowboy hat the Astros gave him earlier, if he ever needs a Hallowe'en costume.

Here's a video of the presentation

Unfortunately, after one of the best wins of the season, scoring 4 times with 2 outs in the 9th capping a 6 run comeback, on Friday night, the magic was gone yesterday, and they'll need to win a Clay Buchholz start to win the series this afternoon.  I give better odds of David Ortiz being mistaken for a real cowboy!

Meanwhile, don't forget to get your own Big Papi Farewell tour t-shirt:

Close up of back of shirt

June 13, 2016

Big Papi - Last Return to Minnesota

Yes, that is Big Papi!
Before David Ortiz became Big Papi and a three time World Series champion with the Red Sox, he was simply known as David Arias - a Twins 1st baseman/DH fighting for his share of playing time.  And most people remember that great trade prior to the 2003 season, when the Twins traded Ortiz to the Red Sox for, um, well, nothing really. He was actually outright released and the Sox acquired him for no cost.  And ever since, Oritz has feasted against Twins pitching, hitting .323 with 20 home runs in 67 career games. In particular, he's loved visiting Target Field, where after getting a single and a double in last night's game, his career average which was .435 there actually dropped.  He has also hit 9 long flys in just 17 games.

So, it wouldn't be surprising if the Twins were a little bitter at all the success he's had in his post-Minnesota career.  But they were good sports about it and honored him prior to the game last night.  First of all they presented a cheque to Pucket's Scholar's Program - Kirby Puckett was a good friend of his, and is the reason he chose #34 when he came to Boston.  But more entertaining was the story his old teammates shared involving his "tidy whities and peanut butter".  You have to watch the video for all the details.

If you want your own Farewell tour t-shirt there's still time to get it here:
Farewell Tour t-shirt

June 08, 2016

Big Papi gets a San Francisco cable-car bell

Ortiz with McCovey and a couple of former WS Champion teammates
Another infrequently played at NL park was the latest stop on David Ortiz' farewell tour.  He's only played in San Francisco a few times, starting 6 games since 2004.  But that didn't stop the Giants from having all-time great Willie McCovey (who is currently, but not for long, ahead of Ortiz on the all-time home run list 521 to 519), make a presentation before the start of last night's game. Also on hand were a pair of World Series Champion teammates, Javier Lopez from the 2007 team and Jake Peavy from 2013.

They presented him with a cable-car bell to commemorate his last regular season trip to San Francisco.

Here is video of the ceremony

May 22, 2016

Jackie Effin' Baseball!

It's a bird. It's a plane. It's Superman!  Nope, it's just Jackie Baseball!
In case you've been living under a rock and hadn't noticed, Jackie Bradley Jr. is finally hitting the way we all thought he would when he first got called up in 2013. Despite gold glove level centerfield play, his .189 and .198 batting averages his first two seasons kept him from sticking in the majors.  In fact, he had a historically bad offensive start to his career. And lots of people were just hoping that he could be close to an average hitter to keep his glove on the field.  He spent most of the early part of the 2015 season in Pawtucket, only starting a dozen games for the Red Sox before August. But then he came up for good and hit over .350 and showed some power, hitting 5 home runs that month, more than he had in total in two and a half part seasons prior to that.  Unfortunately he regressed a bit in September and a lot of naysayers were saying it was a fluke / pitchers learned how to adjust to him / it wasn't sustainable etc.

May 18, 2016

Big Papi Farewell - A Royal Chair

The Big Papi Farewell Tour continues, as today is the Red Sox last regular season scheduled game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Unless (until!) they meet in the playoffs, this will be the last chance for Royals' fans to see David Ortiz.  This hasn't been one of his favorite places to hit, as he's sporting a career .260 average there, and last night was no different as he didn't reach base in a 8-4 Red Sox loss.  But prior to the game, the Royals presented him with a chair from the 2013 All-Star game in which he was the American League's starting DH, in a game the AL won giving them home field advantage in the World Series, and allowing the Red Sox to celebrate that year's championship at Fenway Park for the first time in 95 years!

Here is video of the presentation.

Don't forget to order your Big Papi Farewell t-shirt here.

May 06, 2016

Big Papi Farewell - Cigars from the South Side

Chris Sale presenting Ortiz with humidor full of cigars
Unlike the NL parks that started his farewell tour, Big Papi is familiar with US Cellular Field,  having played 67 regular season games there throughout his career.  He also played 2 postseason games there, getting 3 hits including 2 doubles, during the 2005 ALDS.

Yesterday he was the difference in the game with a 2 run home run in the 5th inning which gave the Red Sox a 3-2 lead, and then he added an RBI single in the 7th in a game Boston won 5-2.

In spite of that, the White Sox still honored him prior to his final game here, as they presented him with a humidor full of cigars.  Of course.... they weren't Cubans but Dominicans!

Here you can see video of the presentation

April 27, 2016

Big Papi Farewell - Atlanta video tribute

Tipping cap to crowd at Turner Field
Being a National League city, David Ortiz has not played many games at Turner Field. However, in his 13 games started there he has hit seven home runs, including a big 3 run shot that had the Red Sox come back from 5 runs down in a huge comeback victory on Memorial Day in 2014. 

In the first game of this two game series, the game was decided by a home run, but it was Jackie Bradley Jr, the hero in the 1-0 victory, as Ortiz just had a pinch hit appearance.  In the second game, the Braves honored Big Papi with a video tribute.  Fans gave him a very loud ovation, and when Ortiz came out of the dugout to tip his cap it got even louder. You can watch the video here.  Unfortunately that was the only appearance of the day for Ortiz, and barring a miraculous World Series berth for the hapless Braves, the last time Ortiz will play in Atlanta. 

Look here for the list of other team's farewells to David Ortiz.  And get your own Papi Farewell Tour tshirt here.

April 23, 2016

Big Papi Farewell - First Stop: Houston

Photo courtesy of Twitter @MLB
In what was the first of many stops on David Ortiz’ farewell tour, the Houston Astros honored Ortiz with a Stetson cowboy hat in a pregame ceremony.  Astros fans aren’t personally very familiar with Ortiz, as he’s only started 12 games at Minute Maid Park in his career, since Houston was in the National League for most of it, but of course they are well aware of his accomplishments and gave him a nice ovation.  His biggest moment in that park was probably in the 2004 All Star Game when he hit a home run off of Carl Pavano, to help the AL win that game and give them home field advantage in the World Series, which, of course, the Red Sox won that season.

Anyhow after the ceremony, the Red Sox went on to defeat the home team 6-2. Ortiz had a quiet night just reaching base once on a walk. 

You can see the entire presentation here.

And if you were at the game and want to get your own Papi Farewell tour shirt, you can order it online here:

Close up of back of shirt

April 11, 2016

Big Papi Farewell Tour

As this is David Ortiz’ final season, his last visit to each visiting ballpark promises to be memorable. It may be the last opportunity for his fans in those cities to see him (other than possibly in the postseason) , and every team has something special planned for him.  Below is a list of dates showing the last regular season scheduled game at each team’s stadium. This list will be updated throughout the season with links to articles about how each team and their fans are honoring this great player.

April 24 – Astros
April 26 – Braves
May 5 – White Sox
May 18 – Royals
June 8 – Giants
June 12 – Twins
June 26 – Rangers
July 31 – Angels
August 4 – Mariners
August 7 – Dodgers
August 15 – Indians
August 21 – Tigers
September 4 – Athletics
September 7 – Padres
September 11 - Blue Jays
September 22 – Orioles
September 25 – Rays
September 29 – Yankees
October 2 – Last home game at Fenway

If you want your own Farewell tour t-shirt click on the images below:
Close up of back of shirt

March 27, 2016

Undeserved Home Runs

In Thursday’s Spring Training game between Houston and the New York Mets, the Astros’ AJ Reed got credit for a home run on a ball that hit the warning track and rolled towards the fence. Yoenis Cespedes thought the ball was lodged under the fence and put up his hands indicating to the umpires that it should be a ground rule double.  And he just watched the ball as Reed circled the bases and got a home run. The umpire ran towards the ball, confirmed that it was in fact in play and the home run stood.  Click below to see this whole play:

On my Baseball Scoring site, I have a post explaining in detail why even though Cespedes just sat there and looked at the ball, the correct official scoring of this play is a home run and no error. Feel free to check it out, if you want.

I still don't understand how some people think this guy is a gold-glove outfielder. He has a strong arm, but takes absolutely awful routes to balls, and occasionally makes bone-headed plays.  Very glad he's not patrolling Fenway's outfield anymore.

For your entertainment purposes here are a bunch of other plays where batters got home runs, mainly due to fielder's misplays (but not errors!)

One week left of this 5 month hibernation!

March 06, 2016

Alberta Baseball Tournaments

As Spring Training starts, it's not too early to start thinking about registering for some spring and summer baseball tournaments taking place throughout our Province.
Below is a list of tournaments I've been made aware of.  If you are a local league / team / association and what to promote your tournament, drop me a line and I'll add it here and plug it on twitter.

Click on links for details of each tournament - some of the ages are flexible, the groupings below are just for quick reference.

Mosquito (11U) Tournaments
Lethbridge Jr. Dawgs Icebreaker - April 29th - May 1st - Contact Wade Pearce or Don Aos
St. Albert Early Bird Tournament - May 20 - 23rd - Contact
Lethbridge Jr. Dawgs Spring fling - May 27th - 29th - Contact (12U) or (10U)
Darin McDonald Invitiational (Spruce Grove) - June 3rd - 5th
Dave Plotsky Memorial (Sherwood Park) - June 3rd - 5th

PeeWee (13U) Tournaments
Lethbridge Jr. Dawgs Icebreaker - April 29th - May 1st - Contact Wade Pearce or Don Aos
Calgary Redbirds Victoria Day Classic - May 20th - 222nd - Contact Jim Lawson
St. Albert Early Bird Tournament - May 20 - 23rd - Contact 
Lethbridge Jr. Dawgs Spring fling - May 27th - 29th - Contact
Darin McDonald Invitiational (Spruce Grove) - June 3rd - 5th
Dave Plotsky Memorial (Sherwood Park) - June 3rd - 5th
Calgary Redbirds Classic - June 10th - 12th - Contact Jim Lawson
Baseball Calgary Summer Slam - June 17 - 19 - Contact Colin Moro
Calgary Redbirds Dan Lawson Memorial - July 8th - 10th  - Contact Jim Lawson

Bantam (15U) Tournaments
Lethbridge Jr. Dawgs Icebreaker - April 29th - May 1st - Contact Wade Pearce or Don Aos
Calgary Redbirds Icebreaker - May 13th - 15th - Contact Jim Lawson
Calgary Redbirds Victoria Day Classic - May 20th - 222nd - Contact Jim Lawson
St. Albert Early Bird Tournament - May 20 - 23rd - Contact 
Darin McDonald Invitiational (Spruce Grove) - June 3rd - 5th
Dave Plotsky Memorial (Sherwood Park) - June 3rd - 5th
Calgary Redbirds Classic - June 3rd - 5th - Contact Jim Lawson
Calgary Redbirds Classic - June 10th - 12th - Contact Jim Lawson
Baseball Calgary Summer Slam - June 17 - 19 - Contact Colin Moro
Calgary Redbirds Dan Lawson Memorial - July 8th - 10th  - Contact Jim Lawson
Calgary Redbirds Dan Lawson Memorial - July 15th - 17th  - Contact Jim Lawson

Midget (18U) Tournaments
Calgary Redbirds Icebreaker - May 13th - 15th - Contact Jim Lawson
St. Albert Early Bird Tournament - May 20 - 23rd - Contact 
Calgary Redbirds Classic  - May 27th - 29th - Contact Jim Lawson
Darin McDonald Invitiational (Spruce Grove) - June 3rd - 5th
Dave Plotsky Memorial (Sherwood Park) - June 3rd - 5th
Calgary Redbirds Classic - June 3rd - 5th - Contact Jim Lawson
Peter DeVries (Edmonton) - June 16th - 19th - Contact Taylor Burns
Calgary Redbirds Stampede Showdown - July 1st - 3rd - Contact Jim Lawson
Medicine Hat Knights UCT Tournament - July 1st - 3rd - Contact Lovell McDonald or Keith Lutz
Medicine Hat Majestics Saamis Rotary Tournament - July 8th - 10th - Contact Lovell McDonald
Calgary Redbirds Dan Lawson Memorial - July 15th - 17th  - Contact Jim Lawson
Calgary Redbirds Dan Lawson Memorial - July 22nd - 24th  - Contact Jim Lawson

February 26, 2016

Playing Pepper 2016

Playing pepper at Fenway Park (courtesy
As mentioned previously, the Cardinals blog C70 at the bat at Cards Conclave hosts an annual series where bloggers from each team answer some specific questions in previewing their team's seasons.

As in previous years, other bloggers also particiapted including fellow Baseball Bloggers Alliance members Christine from Boston Red Thoughts, John at The Mighty Quinn Media Machine, Tyler from Monstah Mash as well as Michael from The Big Mike Blog and  Mike from Seamheads.

To see how these Red Sox bloggers answered these questions, take a look at the Red Sox "Playing Pepper" page at C70 at the bat.

Below are the questions with the answers that I provided. As always, I welcome your comments and thoughts:

1 - What are your thoughts on the team’s offseason?  Did they do what they needed to do?
The Red Sox’ main needs heading into the offseason were to improve the pitching staff and figure out what to do about 1st and 3rd base.  They signed David Price and Chris Young as free agents and traded for Craig Kimbrel, Carson Smith and Roenis Elias. Other than a few of Mr. Henry’s greenbacks, the acquisition price of all these was just prospects Manuel Margo and Javier Guerra and starter Wade Miley. Someone was going to be bumped out of the rotation to make room for Price, so Miley was a small piece to give up, and more importantly Boston still has a lot of top prospects in their system.  Price will certainly improve the rotation and Elias will give them some extra depth.  Kimbrel was brought in to close which will lessen the load on Koji, who together with Carson Smith and the retuning Junichi Tazawa will give the bullpen a formidable set up crew. Chris Young will be a 4th/platoon outfielder and insurance against Jackie Bradley Jr or Rusney Castillo extended slumps or injuries.  Since the “Hanley Ramirez as a left-fielder” plan did not work out last year, they are hoping he can play a passable first base.  Third base will be manned by Pablo Sandoval again. He had a subpar season last year on both sides of the ball, and his age and physique make a lot of people worry that his skills will continue to diminish. But realistically, he’ll be given a chance to show he can perform before the Red Sox see him as a sunk cost. If his struggles continue, or Hanley can’t handle first base, then they’ll need to use some of their aforementioned prospects to upgrade those areas.  Overall, very happy with the offseason, but not convinced they did everything they needed to do.

February 13, 2016

Alberta ballplayers playing College ball

As usual, there are way more Canadians playing baseball in College than there are hockey players, with over 700 players playing in the NCAA, NJCAA and NAIA. The Canadian Baseball Network has an exhaustive list here. Among those, over 50 of them are Albertans. Every year players listed on this page end up being drafted in the MLB June draft, so remember these names, some of whom may become professional players soon:

NCAA Division I:
3B Nolan Bumstead, Calgary, California State University, Northridge
LHP Jared Kennedy, Calgary, Canisius College (New York)
INF-RHP Tanner Kirwer, Sherwood Park, Niagara University (New York)
OF Zack Kunkel, Medicine Hat, Cal-State Northridge University (California)
INF Mitch McGeein, Calgary, Eastern Michigan University
RHP Jordan Parranto, Sherwood Park, Niagara University (New York)
C Matt Quartel, Sturgeon County, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
LHP Nat Seltsam, Calgary, Mount St. Mary’s University (Maryland)
C Ryan Thrasher, Sherwood Park, Alabama A&M University
INF Dane Tofteland, Okotoks, Indiana State University
RHP Jackson Wark, St. Albert, St. Louis University (Missouri)
Division II:
C Mike Belliveau, Calgary, Alta. Bellarmine University (Kentucky)
OF Doug Clapperton, Calgary, University of Texas-Permian Basin
2B Braden Goldade, Medicine Hat, Northern State University (South Dakota)
OF Jake Lanferman, Sherwood Park, Fort Hays State University (Kansas)
OF Joel Mazurkewich, Red Deer, Montana State University Billings
INF Derek Shedden, Edmonton, Northeastern State University (Oklahoma)
C Travis Steinke, Red Deer, University of Arkansas at Monticello
C Ramon Valdez, Chestermere, Barry University (Florida)
RHP Jamie Whitehead, Calgary, Southwest Baptist University (Missouri)
Division III 
INF Alex Bishop, Calgary, University of Texas at Tyler
RHP Forrest Hisey, Ardrossan, Augustana College (Illinois)
INF Blake Patterson, Calgary, Spalding University (Kentucky)
RHP Cole Slamko, Okotoks, Spalding University (Kentucky)
RHP Chris Stodolka, Lethbridge, University of Texas at Tyler
INF Austin Warkentin, Calgary, Mississippi College

INF Brendan Baker, Red Deer, Siena Heights University (Michigan)
LHP Graeme Cherry, Millarville, Northeastern Junior College (Colorado)
C Jacob Cuch, Aridrie, Dickinson State University (North Dakota)
RHP-3B Tyler Czech, Stirling, Dickinson State University (North Dakota)
LHP Dave Erickson, Sherwood Park, Waldorf College (Iowa)
RHP Brendan Ethier, Calgary, Jamestown College (North Dakota)
RHP Dallas Forno, Calgary, Our Lady of the Lake University (Texas)
C Riley Guntrip, Camrose, Siena Heights Univesity (Michigan)
INF-OF Jaxson Hodge, Calgary, Tabor College (Kansas)
LHP Jeremy McPhee, Calgary, Jamestown College (North Dakota)
RHP Kurt Meeberg, Edmonton, Bryan College (Tennessee)
OF Ryley Overacker, Calgary, Siena Heights University (Michigan)
INF J.T. Patterson, Calgary, Northeastern Junior College (Colorado)
RHP Russell Rockwell, Fort Saskatchewan, Northeastern Jr. College (Colorado)
RHP Ryley Ross, Edmonton, Bethany College (Kansas)
LHP Nick Vickers, Calgary, Northeastern Jr. College (Colorado)
OF-INF Brenden Watamaniuk, Westlock, Benedictine College (Kansas)
OF Carson Wlad, Calgary, Siena Heights University (Michigan)

Junior Colleges and Community Collegees
OF Owen Bessette, Sherwood Park, Western Texas College
3B-RHP Connor Burns, St. Albert, Garden City Community College (Kansas)
RHP Nikolas Cardinal, Bonnyville, Mesa Community College (Arizona)
INF Brian Granton, Calgary, Colby Community College (Kansas)
OF Drake Kirkwood, Calgary, Colby Community College (Kansas)
OF Garrett Kirkwood, Calgary, Colby Community College (Kansas)
SS-RHP Matt Lloyd, Calgary, Iowa Western Community College (Iowa)
LHP Taran Oulton, Rocky Mountain House, Hutchinson College (Kansas)
INF Nolan Rattai, Medicine Hat, Midland College (Texas)
C Shawn Robbins, Edmonton, Hill College (Texas)
RHP Riley Rowland, Okotoks, Williston State College (North Dakota)
INF Cole Schneider, Ft. Saskatchewan, Colby Community College (Kansas)
2B Tim Waite, Calgary, Williston State College (North Dakota)
OF Josh Williams, Sherwood Park, Hutchison Community College (Kansas)

February 08, 2016

Playing Pepper Preview

I like making predictions on these pages, although I think I have yet to make one forecast that's even close to being correct. But that hasn't stopped C70 at the Bat from asking me to participate in their annual Playing Pepper project for the 5th season in a row.

You can look here at what I said going into the 2012, 20132014  and 2015 seasons.

This year I have been asked to answer the following questions.

1) What are your thoughts on the team’s offseason?  Did they do what they needed to do?
2) There are a good number of new faces on this squad.  Which one are you most excited about?
3) Will the David Ortiz farewell tour threaten to overshadow what happens on the field?
4) What player do you expect to make the greatest strides this year?
5) What’s your projection of the team’s record and where will they finish in the division?
6) Which team in the division do you most enjoy beating and how do you think you’ll fare against them in 2016?

My answers and those of several other Red Sox bloggers will be published on or around February 25h at the C70 site.  Check there daily for previews of all other teams as well.

I will post my answers here at about the same time, and will be interested in my reader's comments on my thoughts.

February 06, 2016

Did you hear the one about NFL parity?

Best part of Super Bowl? Truck Day is around the corner!
(courtesy of Boston Globe / David L. Ryan)
So, this year the Super Bowl pits the #1 seed from the NFC vs the #1 seed from the AFC.  And they both got there by virtue of beating the #2 seeds in their respective conference championship games.  Yet, the NFL media machine keeps spewing the “on any given Sunday, any team can win” bullshit.  I guess if you didn’t believe that, you’d have a hard time selling out games in Cleveland, Tampa, Jacksonville, Nashville and other places that haven’t seen a winner in a long time.  And I’m not just talking about this year but throughout the league’s history it’s been dominated by a handful of franchises.  Anyhow, Jayson Stark has once again articulated this very well here.  Proving once again how MLB baseball has the most parity of any professional sports league.  Before you say “But the Yankees win every year!!!” make sure you first (a) read the article in the link and (b) check that you didn’t just wake up from a coma you were in since the end of last century.

January 20, 2016

Don't Complain about the Exchange Rate, Blue Jays

Get ready to hear him explain why Jays can't compete (Photo: Nathan Denette)
The Canadian loonie is low and dropping fast.  Is this going to affect the competitiveness of the Blue Jays?  Will it be tougher for them to shell out big bucks for high priced players?  Will they need to raise ticket prices to survive financially because of this? no, No, and NO!

And anybody who tells you otherwise is either lying, or likely not smarter than a 5th grader.

I've explain it all in detail over on my other blog as it affects hockey teams as well, so I posted it to a wider audience.  Go take a look.