Author: Craig Calcaterra

brett anderson getty

Brett Anderson just learned what his uniform number will be on Twitter


Every athlete needs to be on Twitter. You learn more about them and their sport and the world they inhabit from some random tweets than you do in any sort of formal interview. Ask Marshawn Lynch.

Or ask Brett Anderson, who just gave me my chuckle of the day:

The link in that tweet reveals that Anderson’s number will be 35. Bob Welch wore that, so that’s some pretty good company. Beyond him it was mostly journeymen and kids. Anderson wore 30 and 49 at his previous stops in Colorado and Oakland.

The Dodgers are, no doubt, saving those in case they need to retire them in honor of Jerry Sands and Carlos Marmol.

The Nats and Astros need a change in Florida law to get their new spring training facility

Woman Drinking Glass of Water

The Nats and Astros are just about ready to go on their new spring training facility in Palm Beach County. There’s only one hitch: a pesky little law designed to keep drinking water safe:

Moving forward requires the Florida Legislature to shrink a protective zone along the M canal, which borders the southern end of the proposed stadium and community park. The canal delivers water from the Grassy Waters Preserve to the lakes that the city taps for its water supply.

Shrinking the buffer zone alongside the portion of the canal that touches the proposed stadium site would allow room for creating grass parking lots that could double as community soccer fields outside of baseball season.

The buffer zone is currently 450 feet. They need it reduced to 50 feet. The West Palm Beach city commission is urging the legislature to act because spring training facilities = money.

At least they’re honest about that. By the time this turns into an actual proposed law and people start arguing about it, I’m guessing people in support of the change will talk about how ridiculous it is to think the larger buffer zone is needed for clean water, even if no one thought it was all that ridiculous when the most important consideration regarding that land was its impact on clean water. Indeed, I’ll bet people who didn’t say boo when the zone was created will suddenly start talking about how crazy a 450ft buffer zone is and that 50 is all that was ever needed.

But hey, baseball for six weeks a year is more important than drinking water, right?

MLB, not the federal government, is keeping Yoan Moncada from signing a deal

cuba hat

Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada has been in purgatory for some time. He has permanent residence in Guatemala and has worked out for teams. Moreover, the OFAC — the government office which clears Cuban refugees for entry into and work in the United States — has given him the same sort of clearance that past Cuban players like Yasiel Puig and those before him received.

So why hasn’t he signed? Because, as Ben Badler of Baseball America Reports, Major League Baseball quietly ratcheted up the level of clearance that Cuban players need to sign with teams — demanding that they get a clearance the U.S. government doesn’t require but will, eventually, provide if asked — and that requires significantly more work.

It’s complicated, so go read Badler’s full story. And ask yourself if, based on history, it is particularly surprising why Major League Baseball may want to make it harder for teams to sign free agents.

Not so fast on the Bud Selig Hall of Fame talk

Bud Selig

I stand by my claim that Bud Selig was the greatest commissioner in baseball history. As I and many of you noted, a huge reason for that is just how crappy most of the other commissioners were. But hey, if you’re the best out of a group of losers, you’re still the best. And, as I noted in that piece, the definition of “best” relates to how well he did the job he was hired to do, not how well you or I or anyone who did not employ him or benefit from his commissionership feels he did. The Commissioner of Baseball is a CEO who answers to a board of baseball owners. He is not your personal baseball Santa Claus.

A few of those commissioners — including Bowie Kuhn, who was one of the worst — were inducted into the Hall of Fame. I would bet my first born on Bud Selig waltzing into the Hall of Fame the first time he is considered for induction by the Veteran’s Committee, which will come in December 2016. I question why any commissioner should be in the Hall of Fame to begin with — there are conflicts of interest galore and any argument that keeps Marvin Miller out should apply in spades to the CEO who answers to a board of baseball owners — but based on historical precedent, Selig will get his plaque.

But as Jay Jaffe writes over at Sports Illustrated, even if one accepts that a commissioner should make the Hall of Fame, maybe Bud shouldn’t make it? At least not immediately? Not because he was an SOB you hated because he wasn’t your personal baseball Santa Claus, but because the very same things that keep players out right now apply to Selig too. Indeed, he harmed the game in ways Hall of Fame voters are on record as not much liking.

For example, Jaffe correctly notes Selig’s agency and abdication of responsibility which helped the PEDs epidemic grow, and then notes:

If Bonds and Roger Clemens can’t get elected to the Hall of Fame despite overwhelmingly strong credentials that put them in the discussion for the best position player and hitter in the game’s history, respectively, then maybe the best commissioner ever doesn’t deserve to waltz his way into Cooperstown, either.

And that’s just one thing. Jaffe notes others too, such as the cancellation of the 1994 World Series and the high-handed and in some cases downright sleazy tactics that damaged baseball in certain markets. Things that, even if you acknowledge that he did the job he was hired to do better than anyone before and even if baseball subsequently recovered from the acts, substantively harmed baseball.

I still go back to the idea that maybe commissioners shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame at all, as their primary job isn’t to create the sorts of great and memorable baseball moments which are suited to eternalization in the hallowed halls of a museum. At best a commissioner is a patron of an artist or the financier for the artists’ studio and museum. Essential, yes, but not the reason anyone loves the art and certainly not worthy of his own gallery in the museum.

But even if you disagree with that and think that a commissioner should be in the Hall of Fame, maybe they should be held to the same standards as everyone else who is considered for induction?

The 14th greatest GM of all time has been a GM for a long, long time

Brian Sabean phone

Mark Armour and Dan Levitt have written a book: In Pursuit of Pennants, which examines how front offices have historically found innovative ways to build winning teams. In support of that, they are counting down the top-25 GMs of all time over at their blog. Since it’s slow season, I’m going to continue linking to the countdown as it’s great stuff we rarely read about in the normal course.

Brian Sabean has experienced a pretty big change in the public perception department. He’s a scout-turned GM who, at least by some, was described as slow to adopt sabermetric principles and whose early success was attributed more to Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent than to any of his own brilliance.

But then Bonds and Kent went away and, after a brief fallow period, the Giants won three World Series in five years. A lot of that winning is attributable to the fact that Sabean is not, by damn sight, as one-dimensional an executive as his detractors (including this writer) once mistakenly claimed. He has an analytics department. He has drafted well. He has improvised on the fly. He has made good trades. Yes, he has made some bad trades and some really bad free agent signings, but any GM who has been on the job for 18 years is going to have those.

The thing about Sabean: he appears to be open to just about anything and seems to be less beholden to philosophical stances and prejudices that color the thinking of even the best GMs. If he thinks it’ll help him win games, he’ll do it. And the Giants have won a lot of games during his tenure. Including 12 games in three World Series that any GM in the game would anything to have won.

Go read Mark and Dan’s writeup of Brian Sabean here.