Craig Calcaterra

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Dan Uggla thinks the Braves are heading in the right direction

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I’ve been skeptical of the Braves’ approach over the past few months, but now my fears are all put to rest:

Nationals second baseman Dan Uggla has watched the Braves from afar, and he believes with all the moves they have made recently, they are going in the right direction . . .

. . . “John Hart has a plan over there, and they have revamped their Minor League system. The trades they have made, the prospects they have received, they have revamped their farm system. They are going to be a force to be reckoned with probably sooner than expected.”

Any word what Melvin Upton thinks? How about Dion James? Bob Horner?

 

Must-click link: Josh Hamilton has gone 3,449 for his last 3,452

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On Wednesdays I do this thing where I spend an hour on the phone doing 6-7 radio spots in various cities around the country. This morning almost every host asked me something about Josh Hamilton. And almost every one of them couched their Hamilton question to me in terms that suggest that they were dumbfounded that Josh Hamilton didn’t get the book thrown at him as a result of his recent relapse.

Most good radio hosts — and the folks with whom I do my little radio tour are good hosts — reflect general fan sentiment, so I think it’s safe to assume that the general public has the same question. They’re also shocked that Hamilton was not punished. Some, based on some comments here at HBT, view Hamilton situation as one in which he gained some lucky windfall. As if it’s some crazy desirable thing to get to be a drug addict and not be punished for it.

What I think most of these people are missing is that, for the most part, a drug addict lives in a special hell. Maybe Hamilton’s is superficially more comfortable given his wealth, but it’s a hell all the same. Over at The Classical Jeremy Horton — himself an addict — tries to describe that hell and does so in extraordinarily vivid terms. And notes that, against the backdrop of an addict’s life, what Josh Hamilton has done with himself for the past decade has been nothing short of extraordinary:

What needs to be remembered – and what the Angels organization apparently never bothered to learn in the first place – is that addiction is an extremely personal thing and that there’s no way anybody on the outside can know what is best for Hamilton right now. What also needs to be understood and stressed emphatically is, near-miraculous baseball comeback aside, what’s most impressive is that out of the last 3,452 days, he has been sober for roughly 3,449 of them . . .

. . . It is often said in baseball, if you fail seven out of 10 times, you are a success. Hamilton, in his battle with addiction, has failed three out of 3,452 times. He is an unbelievably tremendous success. And he’s an inspiration to millions of us struggling with substance abuse every day, because we understand that addiction never goes away.

Horton’s read is not an easy one. But it’s one worth reading. Especially if you’re the sort who is inclined to think Josh Hamilton somehow got away with something. Or if anything that Major League Baseball could’ve done to him could hold a candle to what he has gone through these past 3,452 days.

(thanks to Allison for the heads up)

MLB announces the “Franchise Four” campaign, seeking the four “most impactful” players per franchise

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Who are the four “most impactful” players in your franchise’s history? You’re about to find out. At least if you trust democracy to figure it out. From MLB:

Major League Baseball today announced the launch of the “Franchise Four” campaign, which will allow fans to vote for the most impactful players who best represent each Major League franchise and several other significant categories in the sport’s history.  The winners of the month-long period of fan voting on MLB.com/FranchiseFour will be announced during pregame ceremonies before Baseball’s 86th All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 14th at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati on FOX.

I guess this is a formalized “Mount Rushmore” thing, which has become a fun bar conversation in recent years. The fun/annoying part of it is that you can define “impactful” or “important” in any number of ways. It doesn’t have to be the best players, but it could be. It doesn’t have to be the most historically significant, but it could be. Everyone who comes to the conversation is going to read in their own rules and provisos as they see fit. No one will agree. It will be chaos. Which is what makes if fun.

I’ll start with the two franchises I know best, the Tigers and the Braves. With almost zero reflection, I’ll go with:

Tigers: Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg, Al Kaline and Willie Horton.

Braves: Hank Aaron, Warran Spahn, Dale Murphy and Chipper Jones.

Obviously you could pick ten other dudes for those slots, but that’s who I’d go with I guess. Go vote.

Watch and enjoy baseball in any way you want. It’s OK!

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Steve Kettmann — the man who just published a book about Sandy Alderson which I have on my desk at the moment and, so far so good — has an op-ed in today’s New York Times which . . . is less good.

The headline: “Don’t let statistics ruin baseball.” The complaint: that advanced statistics and analysis has crowded out some of the more nuanced and sensory experiences in the game.

The real problem isn’t in the dugout, though. It’s with the way the game is discussed off the field. I grew up on vivid reporting that teased out details from the day’s action to give us a more flavorful and insightful narrative — not just by accomplished magazine writers like Roger Angell, but by the scores of beat reporters covering the game nationwide. These days there are some great baseball beat writers, but too many — especially among the younger ones — are so awash in stats that they can’t seem to see the game beyond the numbers . . . The importance of being fully present for a game, shorn of distractions, lies not in sentimentality about the nobility of baseball . . . but in continuously deepening one’s understanding of the game.

I get what Kettmann is on about here, but I think he has presented a false choice and, in some ways a straw man. I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who is so overwhelmed with statistics and analysis that they miss or don’t enjoy the game in front of them. If anything, people who are deeply into stats usually are so because they love the game so much that they can’t get enough of it and want to understand and appreciate it in even deeper ways.

But who cares if there are people who care only about the metrics? Why does it bother folks if someone enjoys the game in a manner different than they do? I’m not sure why this upsets people so much.

Justin Verlander placed on the DL, will not make his scheduled start Sunday

Justin Verlander
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Justin Verlander has a triceps strain. The Tigers were expected to place him on the disabled list on Tuesday, backdating him to March 28, thereby making him eligible to make his first start on Sunday, April 12. They didn’t do that yesterday. They did today, however, backdating to the 29th, meaning that his retroactive DL stint will move up on the calendar, making him unavailable this weekend.

Not that he’s certain to be activated earlier next week. He had a hiccup in the form of a bad bullpen session on Tuesday which kept him from making a minor league start yesterday. Since his triceps is not responding well, he’ll need more time. That means Kyle Lobstein will get the Sunday start. Lobstein made six starts for the Tigers last year. He’s still with Triple-A Toledo but will likely be summonsed up I-75 before the weekend.