That’s not a huge deal — pitchers talk about adding pitches pretty often — but it’s the key Tyler Kepner uses to unlock the door into Max Scherzer’s world in his excellent New York Times article about the Nationals’ new ace.
In it he talks about Scherzer’s lack of complacency despite getting a giant new contract, noting that agent Scott Boras was surprised to learn that, after getting his last big contract as a pro, Scherzer immediately set out to get better. Which is not something every guy who cashes in big does. Scherzer is compared to Greg Maddux in that way and Scherzer cites Maddux as a particular role model. Kepner notes that, when Maddux was Scherzer’s age it was 1996 and Maddux proceeded to unleash seven amazing seasons.
You’re not going to get rich in life betting that someone is going to be Greg Maddux all over again, but you have to admire him.
David Murphy of the Daily News has a story today about the Phillies’ belated entry into the world of analytics.
The Phillies are probably the last team to jump into those waters, but they aren’t just jumping into them. They added an analytics guy a couple of years ago and now, finally, have launched a database system like most other teams have. They’re also, based on the quotes in the article anyway, aware of where they are in this regard. Aware that they have more work to do to catch up. So that’s something.
One thing that does bug me is Pat Gillick’s reference to the Giants’ success as success by a team that isn’t really into analytics. As we’ve noted in the past, that has long been said but it has not been true for a long, long time. It may be the most oft-cited bit of misinformation about team analytics out there. Really, the Giants should be lauded for being astonishingly successful at integrating scouting and analytics seamlessly, not for being successful despite not being into analytics. Because that latter assertion is simply erroneous.
In any event, it’s a good “state of the Phillies” article for you.
Giancarlo Stanton’s season ended with a horrific beaning which broke several bones in his face. With the Marlins making a gigantic investment in him this past offseason, his safety and comfort in the batter’s box is pretty important, so it’s not at all surprising that he got a new helmet.
And it’s pretty cool. Go here to see pictures of it. Unlike a lot of helmets with face guards, his guard is not solid but, rather, made from a carbon steel frame like a football face mask. And no, not like Dave Parker’s football face mask.
And while the Marlins are often called cheap, Jeff Loria does understand the value of his investment here. The helmet costs between $500 and $1,000 and he flew Stanton up for a final fitting of the helmet earlier this week on his private jet.
Earlier this week Mike Lupica — I know, whatever — said that he was convinced that the Steinbrenner family was going to sell the Yankees and chalked up the team’s failure to sign Max Scherzer as evidence of that. The idea: no more big albatross contracts so as to make the team a more desirable commodity.
The New York Post asked Hal Steinbrenner about that yesterday. He was unequivocal in denying it:
“The family is not selling the team. We have no intentions of selling the team. You can quote me on that. I am not sure why everyone continues to ask that. The Steinbrenner family is not selling a majority stake in the New York Yankees. We are not going anywhere.”
He’s used to answering that question, of course. You’ll recall a couple of years ago that ESPN New York wrote a series of articles arguing that the sale of the Yankees was imminent. This despite multiple denials from Steinbrenner.
I guess it’s just good sport to assume otherwise. Or, rather, it’s a function of Yankees reporters who are still mentally wired to think that all baseball teams should be run like George Steinbrenner ran the Yankees and, when they see activity that doesn’t comport with what went on in back in the good old days, such as they were — things like passing on what could be a bad contract for a pitcher over 30 or behavior that is somewhat less insane than that which The Boss tended to exhibit — they interpret it as lack of interest or passion for the team.
If the Steinbrenners do see the Yankees as just a part of their family’s assets and business empire then, yes, it would make sense that they think about selling the team from time to time, especially given how crazy-high franchise values have gone. The bubble has never really popped on those values and they may defy logic and continue to rise. It’s something to consider and smart business people should consider that sort of thing from time to time. But if they view it as the family business and enjoy owning the New York Yankees — and there is nothing which strongly suggests otherwise — these things won’t matter too much.
I’ll believe the Yankees are for sale the moment Hal Steinbrenner or a spokesman says they’re for sale. And not a moment before.
Bad news from the first week of Blue Jays camp in Dunedin. Shi Davidi reports that their newly-acquired outfielder Michael Saunders stepped on a soft spot of ground near an underground sprinkler yesterday, his knee buckled and he tore a meniscus. He’ll require surgery and will be out until at last the All-Star Break.
Saunders was acquired from Seattle back in December for J.A. Happ. He has battled injury at times, but he has a 111 OPS+ since the beginning of the 2012 season and won’t be a free agent for another two years. The Jays were counting on him to be a key part of their outfield, and now he’s out for months.
It’s unclear if the Jays will try to cover for his loss in-house or if they’ll seek some help in the form of a trade.