You should order the Hardball Times Annual

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I’m happy to report that you can now order The Hardball Times Annual for 2012.  Get it here.

For those unfamiliar, the THT Annual has scads of articles with history, commentary, analysis and, of course, retrospectives of the 2011 season by some of the best writers going.

For the past few years I’ve contributed some laughs and yuks to the Annual in the form of my “Year in Frivolity” feature — recapping the funny and absurd stuff that went on during the year — and this year is no different. In addition to my b.s., there’s this sort of thing:

  • Rob Neyer has a piece breaking down the work of Theo Epstein;
  • Chris Jaffe lists the all-time managers in terms of who had the quickest and who had the slowest hooks;
  • THT honcho Dave Studeman breaking down the insane last day of the season;
  • Frequent HBT commenter Jack Marshall writing about the “baseball year in ethics;”
  • Brian Borawski writing about the “baseball year in business;”
  • Max Marchi writing about the pitchers who, because they themselves were amazing, drew the most fans to the ballpark;
  • John Dewan and Michael Humphreys have some great stuff on evaluating defense;
  • Brian Cartwright has an article about what to do with ground ball pitchers when it comes to BABIP;

And as always, there’s much, much more. A broader overview of its contents can be read here.

The THT Annual is a must-read for baseball nuts. It’s a great gift too.  And of course, buying it helps the folks over at The Hardball Times keep the lights on, and that’s fantastic, because those folks do God’s work.

Once again, order it here.  You won’t be disappointed.

Jonny Venters is back in the majors

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The Rays announced on Wednesday that the club purchased the contract of lefty reliever Jonny Venters from Triple-A Durham. The 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 due to a continuous battle with arm injuries. The Rays note that he has undergone two and a half Tommy John surgeries, which is a number that seems to be in dispute.

Venters signed a minor league contract with the Rays in December. With Durham so far this season, he gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and five walks with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Before the injuries, Venters was among the best relievers in 2010-11. In those two seasons, he posted a combined 1.89 ERA with 189 strikeouts and 82 walks in 171 innings.