Hold your nose for this one:
Jayson Stark is reporting that “officials of two clubs monitoring Adrian Beltre’s negotiations” believe that Adrian Beltre could sign with the Oakland A’s quickly, possibly as soon as today. Why the rush? Well, there’s an offer out there, see, and the A’s have two other third baseman in Kevin Kouzamanoff and Edwin Encarnacion to whom they have to decide to tender contracts or not sometime today. That would make it plausible that the Beltre offer will expire today if he doesn’t take it. Throw in some “Beltre prefers the west coast” stuff and voila you got a rumor.
I like me some Jayson Stark, but he needs to find a new set of rival executives to talk to. I mean, ask yourself: on what planet does Scott Boras respond pliantly to a team basically saying “look, we have to decide whether or not to tender contracts to Kouzmanoff and Encarnacion by today, see, so you and your guy had best make up your minds by midnight, OK? You know my number.” Especially when he doesn’t even have offers in hand from the Red Sox yet. If anything, an offer with that kind of thing hanging over it would probably cause Boras to hold out on it until March on general principle. He just doesn’t play that game.
And if Beltre did sign under such circumstances? Without the Red Sox getting in on the game yet? Well, then, one wonders why Boras is his agent anyway. You hire Boras to drive the bus, not to be driven by Billy Beane and not so you can get a geographically-based deal of convenience.
Maybe I’m just crazy here, and if I am, and Beltre signs with the A’s in the next couple of days I’ll dedicate an apology post to Stark and his rival execs. I just don’t think I’ll have to, ya know?
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.
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.