Youkilis, a guy many people first heard about by virtue of him being prominently mentioned in “Moneyball” — and a guy who plays for arguably the most stat-savvy team in baseball — don’t need no stinkin’ sabermetrics:
“I don’t go off all those UZRs . . . is it UZR?” Youkilis said. “I
don’t even know what it is. I hope my UZR is sick, along with my OBSTR.
“I don’t know how they do it. How do you measure defense? You make
an error, you make an error. You get to a ball, you don’t get to a
ball. What if you have a bad hamstring and you can’t get to a ball up
the line? I don’t know what they evaluate, but a good ballplayer is a
And if I’m the Red Sox I’m perfectly happy with this answer. I want the players playing good defense — which Youkilis manifestly does — and not thinking too hard about how it rates. There are plenty of underpaid analysts on staff to worry about whether Youkilis’ UZR is sick.
On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”
There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.
It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:
On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.
“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”
One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.
None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”