Not content to acquire an awful player from the Royals at the deadline, the Braves got two! Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth. In exchange, the Braves give up reliever Jesse Chavez, outfielder Gregor Blanco and prospect Tim Collins, who just came over from the Blue Jays in the Yunel Escobar deal.
Ankiel hasn’t been particularly useful for over two years and he’s been hurt most of this year. He has played a lot of centerfield but he’s not good enough to be a centerfielder anymore, if indeed he ever truly was. He has some pop, but he doesn’t know how to get on base and hasn’t hit for average basically ever. You’ll recall that his pitching career effectively ended when he went all Steve Blass on the Braves in the 2000 NLDS. I guess Atlanta was forced to trade for him eventually on a “you broke it, you bought it” theory.
I called him terrible, but that’s not fair: Kyle Farnsworth has actually been good this year. A 2.42 ERA and he’s been walking far fewer battersand giving up fewer homers this year than he ever has. I won’t say he’s gotten smarter, but maybe he’s gained a certain kind of wisdom over the past year or so. Or maybe he’s just been lucky. It’s worth noting that this is his second stint with Atlanta, and his first stint — back in 2005 — was highly successful.
Chavez is a tomato can, so good riddance to him. Blanco has been nothing more than a fill-in for Atlanta and never will be much more than that. He really doesn’t have any place in Kansas City either, unless of course the Royals are looking for new and exciting ways to block Alex Gordon. Losing Tim Collins irks me. He is an utter monster strikeout machine and I think he could be pretty good as a major league reliever. He’s short, though, and apparently every general manager is obligated to discount the performances of short pitchers due to some blood oath. I don’t get it.
Ultimately the Braves get an outfielder — which they needed — but not necessarily a good one (update: intellectual honesty compels me to admit that, yes, Ankiel is probably a better option than running Melky out there every night). The interesting thing will be seeing whether the Braves still think Ankiel can play center (he can’t) or if they’ll play him in right and put Jason Heyward in center (better, but it scares me).
Yasiel Puig is in New York to face the Mets this weekend. Yesterday was a day off so he got to explore New York. You can tell he’s not a New Yorker because he actually went to visit the Statue of Liberty.
I likewise assume that Puig made it to where the boat leaves for Liberty Island with plenty of time to spare, because God knows he’s had a week in which him hustling to make it just in time wasn’t gonna happen.
In other news, Puig made a friend on the boat:
The other day we had the non-controversy of Wade Boggs wearing his 1996 World Series ring, which he won with the Yankees, to a ceremony honoring the 1986 Red Sox. Last night, however, Boggs was feted as an individual, with his number 26 being retired at Fenway Park.
It was an emotional night for him. He was visibly choked up and said all sorts of things which clearly showed how much more, at heart, he is a Boston Red Sox legend than he is a legend of either of the other teams for which he played. And he made a comment about the Yankees ring thing too:
He wore his Hall of Fame ring on Thursday.
“I’m proud of it,” Boggs said of the ’96 Yankees’ ring. “But I didn’t feel like it was appropriate today being that it’s my day, it’s my number and everything like that. So I left it off.”
The dude hit .328 for his career and had 3,010 hits despite not even playing a full season until he was 25. He could wear a Little Orphan Annie decoder ring out there and no one would have the right to say boo to him.
Over at Vice Rian Watt has a great story about how technology is changing baseball. No, it’s not about sabermetrics or statistical analysis. At least not as you all know and understand those things. It’s about how the players themselves are now becoming the data. About how wearables — little devices which monitor everything about an athlete’s behavior — and analysis of that behavior is changing clubs’ understanding of what makes baseball players excel.
Which is fine if you approach it solely from a technological standpoint and do that usual “gee, what a world we live in” stuff that such articles typically inspire. Watt, however, talks about the larger implications of turning players into data: the blurring of their professional and personal lives:
Welcome to the next frontier in baseball’s analytic revolution. Many of this revolution’s tenets will be familiar to anyone who works for a living—the ever-growing digitization and quantification of things never-before measured and tracked, for instance, or the ever-expanding workplace, the blurring distinction between the professional and the personal, and the cult of self-improvement for self-improvement’s sake. These broader trends are colliding with baseball tradition on backfields and in training facilities around the major leagues, and those collisions have raised questions about privacy, security, and what employees owe their employers.
Players already accept drug testing and rules about personal behavior. But can a club, armed with knowledge about how it affects a player’s performance, make rules about how he sleeps? What kind of shoes he wears off the field? Everything he eats?
I’m the last person to fall for slippery slope fallacies. In most instances there are lines that can be drawn when it comes to regulating the behavior of others and making new rules. But in order to draw those lines you have to ask questions about what is and what is not acceptable. You also have to acknowledge that it’s really easy for technology to get ahead of our ability to comprehend its ethical implications.
You all probably know my thing about “Field of Dreams.” Specifically, that I hate it. Maybe my least favorite baseball movie ever. And I have sat through “The Slugger’s Wife” at least twice. That’s really saying something. At some point I’ll watch it again and liveblog the experience to explain my position on this — I know all of you think I’m nuts for not liking it — but just accept that I don’t like it for now, OK?
But just because a movie stinks doesn’t mean every aspect of it is bad. I loved Burt Lancaster in everything he did and he did an excellent job in “Field of Dreams.” Same with James Earl Jones for the most part. I thought he did a great job playing a character which, at times, didn’t have as much to work with as he could’ve had. No, there are good elements of “Field of Dreams.” If there weren’t — if it were just a total turkey — it wouldn’t inspire the feelings I have about it. If it were an unmitigated disaster, I’d occasionally re-watch it on a so-bad-it’s-good theory.
The “People will come” speech is good. Not necessarily for its content — there’s some hokeyness to it — but because James Earl Jones does a great job delivering it. He could read the dang phone book and make it compelling
Yesterday Major League Baseball launched a partnership thingie with the Field of Dreams site in Iowa. Part of that effort involved having Vin Scully recite the “People will come” speech over some baseball footage. Watch and listen:
Personally, I’d prefer Vin to tell some kooky story about an opposing player actually being a part time flautist or what have you. He’s had many monumental moments, but Scully is Scully for the way he makes the workaday and the mundane sound poetic, not because he takes the already poetic and elevates it further.
Still, this is good. Even to a hater like me. And I’m sure a lot of you will love it.