MLB execs think Dodgers will be “in play” for Prince Fielder

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This is more speculation than rumor, but it’s worth passing along anyway given the subject matter.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post says a “surprising number” of team executives have told him that they think the Dodgers will “ulimtately be in play” for free agent first baseman Prince Fielder.

That might seem impossible given the Dodgers’ in-flux ownership situation, but keep in mind that they were able to sign outfielder Matt Kemp to a club-record eight-year, $160 million contract extension earlier this winter and that bids for the franchise are expected to surpass $1.5 billion once current owner Frank McCourt finally goes to market. Whoever ends up buying team will surely have deep pockets, and will likely be able to afford whatever Fielder and his agent Scott Boras end up commanding.

Heck, adding Fielder could even help McCourt’s bottom line if it improves the club’s perceived value.

The 27-year-old slugger batted .299/.415/.566 with 38 home runs and 120 RBI in 692 plate appearances last season for the National League Central champion Brewers. He owns a spectacular .929 career OPS.

If the Dodgers get serious about landing Fielder, they’ll likely begin shopping James Loney simultaneously.

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.