Out of people he can anger here, Scott Boras looks to Japan

Leave a comment

Scott Boras is considering something unique with Stephen Strasburg:

This summer, Boras has another high-profile client, San Diego State
pitcher Stephen Strasburg, for whom he would love nothing more than to
blow apart baseball’s draft system, allowing Strasburg to be
compensated in line with his talent–his asking price is believed to be
around $50 million–as opposed to within the parameters of the current
system, in which no player has ever received more than $10.5 million.

Even before talks began with the Washington Nationals, who made
Strasburg the first overall pick June 9, Boras was dropping hints
privately that he is preparing to explore a new frontier in his ongoing
draft-busting crusade: Japan.

The general idea — which I doubt he’d actually consider as opposed to
simply threaten in an effort to gain leverage — is to have Strasburg
sign with a Japanese team, thereby ending his status as an amateur and
making his “residency” Japan for baseball purposes, all of which Boras
believes would take Strasburg out of the draft and allow him to become
a free agent.

If I were the Nationals I’d call that bluff in a second. Japanese
baseball is already extremely bent out of shape over its biggest stars
coming to the United States to play, so I really can’t feature them
taking too kindly to being used as a negotiation prop by Scott Boras.
The only way this would work is if the Japanese agreed to waive their
usual nine-year reserve system that keeps players locked up, and have
very little faith that they would do that in Strasburg’s case.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

Getty Images
3 Comments

The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

3 Comments

Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.