Bobby Parnell will close for Mets if Frank Francisco is out

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Frank Francisco’s odds of being ready for Opening Day seem slim after the Mets reliever told reporters yesterday that his inflamed elbow is “at zero” percent and manager Terry Collins wasted no time lining up a replacement closer.

Marc Carig of New York Newsday reports that Collins called Bobby Parnell last night to tell him he’d get the ninth-inning nod if Francisco isn’t ready to begin the season and “then followed up with both Parnell and Francisco this morning.”

Recent signing Brandon Lyon has more closing experience, but Parnell saved seven games filling in for Francisco last season and has pitched very well in a setup role for three seasons now. During that time Parnell has thrown 163 total innings with a 2.98 ERA and 158 strikeouts, so Francisco’s injury may actually lead to the Mets handing the closer job to their most deserving reliever.

Must-Click Link: Sherri Nichols, Sabermetic Pioneer

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If you are old enough and lame enough as I am, you may have lurked around on sabermetic message boards in the 1990s. If you did, you may have heard of Sherri Nichols, who back in the day, was a significant contributor to the advancement of statistical analysis, particularly defensive analysis.

While it’s probably better that not everyone is as old and nerdy as me, the downside of it is that most people haven’t heard of Nichols and know nothing about her contributions. That changes today with Ben Lindbergh’s excellent analysis of Nichols and her work over at The Ringer, which I recommend that you all read.

The short version: Nichols is the one who planted the seed about on-base percentage being valuable in the mind of Baseball Prospectus Founder Gary Huckabay, back in the late 80s. She’s also the one most responsible for the rise of zone-based defensive metrics in the 1990s, such as Defensive Average, which she created and which served as the basis for other such metrics going forward. She also played a critical role in the development of RetroSheet, which collected almost all extant box score and play-by-play information going back to the turn of the 20th century, thereby making so much of the information available at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs possible. A key contribution there: making the information free and available to everyone, rather than closing the underlying data off as proprietary and either charging for access or keeping it in-house like some recent data collectors have chosen to do. Ahem.

A larger takeaway than all of Nichols’ contributions is just how loathe the baseball community was to listen to a woman back then. I mean, yeah, they’re still loathe to listen to women now, as indicated by the small number of women who hold jobs in baseball operations departments, but back then it was even worse, as evidenced by Lindbergh’s stories and Nichols’ anecdotes.

A great read and a great history lesson.