How bad was the Angels' offseason?

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Bill Baer of Baseball Daily Digest thinks it was pretty damn bad:

In essence, the Angels have swapped gimpy designated hitters,
downgraded from Lackey to Piniero, lost Figgins and gained Rodney.
Meanwhile, Roy Halladay went to Philadelphia, Cliff Lee went to
Seattle, and Aroldis Chapman went to Cincinnati. The Angels wanted an
ace pitcher and they ended up with Joel Piniero. It’s the kind of
dream/reality contrast one would expect to find with the New York Mets,
not the L.A. Angels.

I think going from Guerrero to Matsui at DH was an upgrade, and I’m not at all certain that going from Lackey to Piniero will be as much of a falloff as some think, but yeah, I suppose it’s been a rough winter for the Angels. Less so because of what they did themselves and more so because of what the Mariners did. 

This doesn’t make them the Mets. But in my mind it makes them more likely to be battling the Red Sox, Rays, and Rangers for the wild card than to be battling the Mariners for the division crown.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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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

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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.