Craig Calcaterra

Longtime Yankees executive Billy Eppler smiles during a news conference announcing him as the new general manager for the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif. on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015. The 40-year-old Eppler replaces interim GM Bill Stoneman, who took over after Jerry Dipoto quit his job at midseason following his latest disagreement with Mike Scioscia, the longest-serving manager in baseball.  (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Associated Press

Angels’ GM Billy Eppler talks about broccoli and East Coast vs. West Coast rap


The Angels and, in particular, Mike Scioscia, have been cited as one of the last bastions of old school, anti-sabermetric thinking in the game. That’s likely an overstatement — everyone, the Angels included, use analytics in some measure — but they’ve earned the label. When Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia butted heads over the communication of analytic information to players last year and Scioscia won, it was clear which way the club leaned.

Their new GM Billy Eppler bristles at that assessment, however. Yesterday, speaking at the SABR analytics conference here in Phoenix, he talked about how the Angels use everything and how the “stats vs. scouts” divide is a false or, at the very least, outdated dichotomy. In doing so he employed a whole bunch of fun analogies.

First, in talking about how the front office should serve the on-field staff, he used a culinary metaphor. From Pedro Moura’s report in the Los Angeles Times:

“They’re going to bake certain meals and certain plates,” Eppler said. “We’re going to show what those plates and what that meal can be like: ‘This is what happens if you put this in your body. This is what happens if you do this. And what do you want?’

“We’re not gonna say, ‘You’re gonna eat broccoli.’ We’re gonna say, ‘Broccoli can do this, beets can do this, almonds can do this, lean meat can do this. What do you think can help you? Why? How do you want to do this?'”

That’s fair, actually. It really should be a partnership between the front office and the dugout staff, not a dictatorship. But to go with Eppler’s analogy, what was happening last year is that Jerry Dipoto’s people were barred from wheeling the dessert cart by the players’ tables in the first place. At least according to the reports at the time. In keeping with the theme, Mike Scioscia was the guy who brought his family to a restaurant that prided itself on chef-centric cuisine, waved his hand at the waiter and said “keep the menu, my good man; I order hamburgers wherever I go.”

He went on to drop another fun analogy. This one: east coast vs. west coast rap:

“The analytics vs. scouting thing, it’s so tired,” he said. “It’s so East Coast-West Coast rap. Uncle. Uncle, you know what I mean . . . Are you East Coast rap or West Coast? Are you for stats or are you for scouting? I don’t know. Can I really be in between? Because I am.

Again, fair. But if you don’t want to be accused of having a 1990s mindset, Billy, maybe don’t use such obvious 1990s references.

Besides, west coast is best. We all know this and if you think otherwise you’re clearly wrong.

Pirates sign David Freese to a one-year deal

David Freese AP

The Pirates have signed David Freese to a one-year $3 million deal, the team announced yesterday.

Freese, 32, hit .257 with 27 doubles, 14 homers and 56 RBI last year with Angels. For his career he’s a .276/.344/.417 hitter in seven major league seasons, giving him an OPS+ of 112.

Many likely expected Freese to sign a longer term deal someplace. Maybe not anything crazy, but he’s a slightly better-than average hitter with potential to be a bit better than that if he gets hot and gets some bounces. He’s pretty durable and pretty solid, especially for a guy signing a couple of weeks after camps opened up.

With Freese in the fold the Pirates can put Josh Harrison at second base and not sweat the comeback of Jung Ho Kang as much as they may have and, in any case, the impulse to rush him back will be limited. Once he’s healthy the Pirates will have a lot of infield depth, which is a nice problem to have.

A pretty nifty pickup for the Pirates.


Jenrry Mejia’s lawyer accuses Major League Baseball of “dirty cop tactics”

mejia mets getty

Former Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia was given a permanent ban for a third positive PED test recently. Last week he claimed that he was set up by Major League Baseball and that they were out to get him in what he calls a “witch hunt.” He claimed that the league fabricated his second and third positive drug tests to do so and that the MLBPA did not sufficiently defend him.

Today his lawyer held a press conference, with Mejia by his side, and he did not back off of the claims. Vowing that Mejia will fight his ban in court, attorney Vincent White said that he has spoken with someone who has “tangled with MLB before” with respect to PEDs and who claims that Major League Baseball works with third-party contractors to hack players’ social media accounts and use the information it finds in PED investigations. White said this witness was not a former player, but had been involved in previous league investigations.

Major League Baseball investigators came under intense scrutiny for their behavior in the course of the Biogenesis investigation, with one having a sexual relationship with a witness and others purchasing documents alleged to be stolen in an effort to get Alex Rodriguez and the other players caught up in that scandal. The sort of accusations White is leveling here, however, are something else altogether.

For its part, Major League Baseball released this statement a short time ago:

“As we have said before, no representatives of Major League Baseball met or spoke with Jenrry Mejia regarding any of his drug violations. In fact, MLB coordinates all 40-man roster player interviews with the MLBPA and they are present at the interview as the player’s union representative.

“Sadly, the comments made by Mr. Mejia and his representatives today continue a pattern of athletes hiring aggressive lawyers and making wild, unsupported allegations about the conduct of others in an effort to clear their names. Mr. Mejia’s record demonstrates that he was a repeated user of banned performance-enhancing substances. As such, per our collectively bargained rules, he has no place as an active player in the game today.”

It’s Mejia and White’s move. If they feel like they have the goods, one would assume they have no choice but to file a lawsuit. Major League Baseball, however, doesn’t seem too worried.