Around this time of year, MLB.com asks its beat writers to put together a year-in-review for each of the league’s 30 teams. Tom Singer took care of the task for the Oakland A’s, who struggled to a 75-87 record this past season and a last place finish in the American League West division.
The team’s combined .328 on-base percentage ranked 21st in all of baseball and their .397 slugging percentage ranked 25th.
The 2009 A’s finished last in the American League in home runs. That hadn’t happened since the organization was in Kansas City.
But fear not, A’s fans, GM Billy Beane has a plan:
“Our organization has two waves of players,” Beane said this week. “We have a
strong group of young pitchers up in the Majors, and we have a group of
young hitters coming up behind them who will be ready soon. It’s a
process we went through in the 1990s, so we know how it works.”
It’s hard to doubt the guy. The last time the A’s rattled off three straight losing seasons (1996-1998) the next eight years brought four division championships and four second-place finishes. And he’s right about the young pitching staff, a group that compiled the AL’s third-lowest ERA and set a franchise record for
strikeouts. There is some hope for Oakland.
Video: Undercover David Ortiz drives a Lyft in Boston
David Ortiz did one of those “Undercover Lyft” spots for, well, Lyft, in which famous people disguise themselves while driving passengers around. Yes, they’re ads, but they’re still pretty funny. At least this one was.
Best parts: (1) the woman who says she has two David Ortiz shirts to which Undercover Ortiz responds, “actually, all my shirts are his shirts”; and (2) when Ortiz agrees with someone that baseball games are “so loooong.” Oh, and at one point he tells a woman who said she was going to the Red Sox game that night that he was too. After he unmasked himself, she explains his own joke to him. Which, ooohhkay.
In other news, people who take Lyfts in Boston either don’t watch much baseball, because Ortiz’s costume is NOT very concealing, or else they simply don’t look at their Lyft driver while in the car, at all.
Scouting in Venezuela: “Someone is going to get killed. It’s just a matter of time”
Ben Badler of Baseball America has a story about how major league scouts who cover Venezuela are unhappy with the rules imposed upon them by the league. Rules, they say, which unreasonably prohibit them from scouting Venezuelan players in centralized, team-controlled locations or, alternatively, flying them to team facilities in the Dominican Republic or elsewhere.
The result: international scouts are forced to travel all over Venezuela to evaluate prospect. And, given how destabilized and dangerous Venezuela has become, they believe their safety is at risk:
“MLB’s rules that limit our ability to travel a Venezuelan guy to the Dominican Republic, that limit our ability to get them in a complex at different ages, all these rules are solely contributing to the risks that all of us are taking traveling from complex to complex, facility to facility in the streets,” said one international director. “Someone is going to get killed. It’s just a matter of time, and it’s on MLB when it happens, because they’re the ones who created these rules.”
As Badler notes, Major League Baseball itself has moved its annual national showcase out of the country due to safety concerns. It will not, however, relax scouting rules — which seem arbitrary on their surface in the first place — in order to make the job of international scouts safer.
It seems that Rob Manfred and the league owe their employees better than this. Or at the very least owe them an explanation why they don’t think they do.