Jan 18

Open Thread #6, 2022

The Dodgers announced a passel of front office moves today.

The Dodgers announced multiple front office moves Tuesday, including the promotion of former Vice President, Assistant General Manager Brandon Gomes to General Manager.

In addition, the Dodgers promoted Alex Slater to Vice President, Assistant General Manager, Brandon McDaniel to Vice President of Player Performance and Thomas Albert to Head Athletic Trainer. Damon Jones has also joined the Dodger front office as Vice President, Assistant General Manager & Baseball Legal Counsel.

Gomes, 37, becomes the 12th general manager in Dodgers history and the first since Farhan Zaidi departed to become the Giants’ President of Baseball Operations in November 2018.

Two Brandons, huh?

Jan 03

Open Thread #5, 2022

The lockout continues. CBS Sports says there are four things fans should know as the new year begins:

  • 1. Talks should get serious in January
    “owners and the union before the new year were set to discuss matters of relatively lesser importance. That’s notable because at the very least discussions took place…”

  • 2. Those ‘core economics’ are complicated
    “…the average player salary has declined in the face of ever-soaring franchise values, the union wants to remake the economic structure of the game. The players’ wish list is too expansive to be addressed in a single CBA negotiation, but you should expect that their energies will be focused on getting young players paid more and paid sooner.

    Younger players in terms of on-field value are, as a group, better than older players, but the antiquated salary structure, which is driven by tenure rather than capability, doesn’t reflect that. Right now, almost all players are entitled to no more than the major-league minimum until they have three years of MLB service time, at which point they become eligible for arbitration. To put a damning point on it, AL MVP finalist Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made just $605,400 this season (compared to the current minimum salary of $570,500), which means he was underpaid relative to his production by tens of millions of dollars.

  • 3. The players may have some leverage for the time being
    Negotiations leading up to the COVID-shortened 2020 season served to galvanize the players, and the mass of signings leading up to the owner lockout means less uncertainty for several high-profile free agents. All of that, in turn, makes it less likely that there will be divisions within the ranks of players. Beyond those factors, veteran players like union rep Max Scherzer sound fully committed to fighting for the rights of younger and less tenured players during these negotiations. That means fewer class schisms that management can exploit.

  • 4. Time will soon be running short
    Should we get into the second week of February or thereabouts without a deal, then the possibility of a compromised spring training becomes a concern. This again plays into the leverage that players may have right now. Spring training games at sites in Arizona and Florida have become a profit center for teams, and they don’t want to lose those games. Players, meantime, don’t start getting checks until the regular season begins. So the prospect of a shortened spring training figures to increase pressure on the league side to get a deal done.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers pulled off a rather unusual signing this weekend

Taking a swing at improving their middle infield, the Dodgers have signed Eddy Alvarez, known as a Miami Marlins Quad-A prospect … but more prominently known as a USA Baseball silver medalist and a decorated speed skater from the 2014 Sochi games.

[snip]

Alvarez also got his most extended big-league run with the Marlins during the 2021 season, too.

In 24 games, split between third and second base, Alvarez hit .188 while cracking his first home run at the MLB level. He doesn’t offer much on the defensive end, grading out as below-average at third, the spot he spent the majority of his reps.

Just getting to the big leagues is nothing to sneeze at, of course. Getting to the big leagues after winning silver on the rink? Now that’s really something.

No need to treat this as some sort of token reward, though. Alvarez mashed at the minor-league level last season, posting an .865 OPS in 31 games at Triple-A (.423 OBP). He earned his keep, and will now be getting a fresh chance in one of baseball’s model organizations.

Dec 18

Open Thread #4, 2021

As the lockout continues, the two parties have only met once, on Thursday, December 16, and apparently achieved nothing of any import. It’s unlikely there will be any further meetings until after the holidays.

CBS Sports quotes The Athletic:

A union source said Wednesday that since the sides met in Texas in the days leading up to the lockout, the union hasn’t heard from the league on any key economic issues. Now, the union hasn’t reached out on those issues either. But the MLBPA’s lead negotiator, Bruce Meyer, made clear when the lockout started the union felt it was incumbent on MLB to issue the next counterproposal.

Delaying any meaningful talks until January means that the two sides will have about a month before spring training is scheduled to begin. That will create pressure on both sides.

In other news, the Mets hired Buck Showalter as their new manager. He’s 1,551-1,517 (.506) with the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers and Orioles in 20 big league seasons. Showalter is 64 years old.

Dec 03

Open Thread #3, 2021

As it stands, Max Scherzer and Corey Seager have left the Dodgers for greener pastures. Kenley Jansen may have found several teams willing to give him a longer term contract than the Dodgers are. They did re-sign Chris Taylor. Trea Turner can slide from second base to shortstop, where he’s played most of his MLB career. They’re hoping Max Muncy returns to full health, but he admitted earlier in the week that he’d torn his UCL in that last game and he wasn’t healing as quickly as he’d like.

They need starting pitching; right now they have Walker Buehler and Julio Urías. They need to re-sign Clayton Kershaw not just for sentimental reasons but because he’s still a very good starter. Their other starters include David Price and Tony Gonsolin and possibly newly-signed Andrew Heaney, whom they believe they can help improve and reduce his tendency to give up home runs.

Heaney has allowed home runs at a higher-than-average clip in three of the past four years, and he was among the game’s most homer-prone arms this past season. The former first-round pick allowed 2.01 HR per nine innings in 2021, a rate eclipsed by just five other hurlers (minimum 100 IP).

On the free agent market, the best starting pitching remaining includes Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Carlos Rodón. Trading for starters is another option, of course. And they’re waiting for Dustin May to rehabilitate from Tommy John surgery.

The lockout precludes any activities by teams or players until a new collective bargaining agreement is completed, so we may be in limbo for a while.

Nov 02

World Series Game Six, 2021

Braves at Astros, 5:09 PM PDT, TV: Fox

LHP Max Fried (Postseason 1-2, 5.40 ERA) tries to nail the series victory down for the Braves. Standing in his way is RHP Luis Garcia (Postseason 1-2, 7.62 ERA) of the Astros.

From MLB:

Fried had a shaky outing in Game 2, giving up five runs in the game’s first two innings. But much of the damage against him came on ground-ball singles through the holes, and he settled in as the game evolved. Garcia allowed one run on three hits with four walks and six strikeouts in only 3 2/3 innings in Game 3 on Friday.

On this date in baseball history Chase Utley homered twice in Game Five of the 2009 World Series, staving off elimination by the Yankees for one more day. The Cubs beat the Indians 8-7 in ten innings in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series to win their first title in 108 years.

Lineups when available.

Braves:

Astros:

Oct 31

World Series Game Five, 2021

Astros at Braves, 5:09 PM PDT, TV: Fox

LHP Framber Valdez (Postseason 1-1, 6.35 ERA) tries to halt the Braves’ march to the title, while LHP Tucker Davidson (0-0, 3.60 ERA) opens for the Braves. Valdez won Game Five of the ALCS, giving up just one run over eight innings to the Red Sox. Davidson was not initially on the World Series roster but replaced Charlie Morton, who broke his leg in Game One.

On this date in baseball history Derek Jeter hit a game-winning HR in the 10th inning of Game Four of the 2001 World Series, earning himself the nickname “Mr. November.” In Game Three of the 2009 World Series a fly ball off Alex Rodriguez’s bat became the subject of the first use of instant replay in a Series, and in 2010 the battery of Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey were the first rookies to start a World Series game since Spec Shea and Yogi Berra in 1947.

Lineups when available.

Astros:

Braves:

Oct 30

World Series Game Four, 2021

Astros at Braves, 5:09 PM PDT, TV: Fox

RHP Zack Greinke (Postseason 0-0, 7.71 ERA) pitches for the Astros and LHP Dylan Lee (Postseason 0-0, 3.38 ERA) pitches for the Braves.

Today in baseball history President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch at the 2001 World Series, the Red Sox won the 2013 World Series and the Nationals won the 2019 World Series.

Lineups when available.

Astros:

Braves:

Oct 29

World Series Game Three, 2021

Astros at Braves, 5:09 PM PDT, TV: Fox

The Astros send RHP Luis Garcia (Postseason 1-1, 9.64 ERA) to the mound and the Braves counter with RHP Ian Anderson (Postseason 1-0, 2.25 ERA).

Today in baseball history was mostly filled with managerial and executive moves, as it wasn’t until 2001 that the World Series was extended this late in the year. In 2008 the Phillies won their second championship by beating the Rays in the continuation of a rain-suspended game, and in 2014 Madison Bumgarner pitched five scoreless relief innings in Game Seven and his Giants beat the Royals in Kansas City.

Lineups when available.

Astros:

Braves: