<span class="vcard">Craig Calcaterra</span>

Little League

MLB unveils “Pitch Smart”: a guide to help youth baseball players avoid injury

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Major League Baseball today unveiled the first step in an initiative aimed at reducing pitcher injuries. It’s called “Pitch Smart” and it’s designed to educate youth players, parents and coaches about how to better avoid arm injuries. This is important because, as Dr. James Andrews noted last spring when a rash of Tommy John surgeries hit Major League Baseball, the cake on arm injuries is often baked back when the pitcher is young, not when he is already a professional.

The website sets forth best practices, guidelines and identifies risk factors for young baseball players. Stuff like this:

source:

As Jeff Passan of Yahoo notes, this is but a first step, and later steps will involve reaching out to and working with youth leagues to help set standards. Which is easier said than done given the number of leagues and governing bodies and the incentives in place that don’t always put a players’ health at the top of the list.

It’s good to see baseball wading into an area where they could, if they so chose, simply say “we can’t control that” and turn a blind eye.

The Red Sox met with Jon Lester’s agent for an “extended period of time”

Jon Lester
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Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington met with the representatives for free agent left-hander Jon Lester on Tuesday night “for an extended period of time.”

Dad: Now, son, your mother and I went on a date last night. And I know that may be confusing to you since we separated last year. It’s sometimes confusing to us, too.

Son: So are you getting back together? Or —

Dad: I don’t know.

Son: OK. Whatever. I’m going up to my room to play video games. Maybe don’t talk to me about this sort of stuff unless you have something real to tell me. God.

I can’t help but think this is just Lester’s agent’s first of many stops. There are a lot of teams who could be interested in Lester, including teams who haven’t made a recent habit of asking for injury clauses and other things that shift the risk on to the pitcher as opposed to the team.

Front office leadership grows more complicated. Especially the titles.

Epstein Hoyer
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today has a story about how, increasingly, front offices are no longer led by a GM and his employees. There are presidents of baseball operations and vice presidents and two and three-headed monsters like we’re seeing in Chicago and Los Angeles and Miami. And whatever weirdness is going on in Atlanta where there is a president and a vice president of baseball ops, but no GM.

Nightengale talks of the potential confusion this all may cause — Dave Stewart has a good quote about how, if he wanted to make a trade with the Dodgers, he’s not sure who he’d call — but this just seems more like evolution to me.

We didn’t have bench coaches before, now we do. Most teams now have assistant hitting coaches. Entire new departments devoted to analytics exist. It just makes sense that as everything in operations becomes more complicated and granular, management will be require more resources and people as well. A mom and pop store — which some baseball teams still vaguely resembled as late as the 1980s — can be run by one person. A complex corporation really can’t.

In December we’ll hear older guys talking about the days when GMs met in the bar at the Winter Meetings and did deals on the back of napkins. Part of the reason that can’t happen anymore is that GMs, by themselves, don’t make deals nearly as often as they used to. It’s a team effort, and if members of your team become more important, they will become recognized and earn recognition in the form of titles, higher salary and a media profile. That’s all that’s going on here, really.

Brian Cashman’s expectations for A-Rod: low. Which is pretty smart.

San Francisco Giants v New York Yankees
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Yankees GM Brian Cashman spoke about Alex Rodriguez yesterday and he laid out the situation pretty clearly: A-Rod is likely not going to be the starting third baseman and, wherever he ends up, he’s going to have to earn his at bats:

“If I signed or traded for a third baseman, then that would be my third baseman,” Cashman said Tuesday at the general managers’ meetings. “If we made a move for someone who is a third baseman, then he’s our third baseman . . . Alex is going to come in and compete, compete for at-bats, compete for a position,” Cashman said. “Simple as that.”

Read this in conjunction with the reports that the Yankees are going to try to sign Chase Headley to be their third baseman. Or, perhaps, look at other options.

This is smart for a lot of reasons. The primary reason: there is no way to know what the Yankees are going to get out of Rodriguez. He’s turning 40 next year, has had a year off and wasn’t totally healthy when he last played in 2013. If you pencil A-Rod in as your third baseman, you’re gambling and it’s not a great gamble that you’re going to get either durability or effectiveness and getting both is a long shot.

It’s also smart from a media management perspective. It’s going to be crazy in Tampa next February as it is, so if Cashman can make it slightly less crazy by nipping “WHERE WILL A-ROD PLAY?!!!” stories now, more power to him. Of course, thinking that the New York press is NOT going to write the dumb obvious stories whether they are previously debunked or not is probably a longer shot than A-Rod getting 500 plate appearances.

If you figure A-Rod can share time at DH and first base and maybe — maybe — spell Chase Headley or someone at third once in a great while, you’re probably figuring wisely. And, if even that is too much, you haven’t had your 2015 plans blow up on you if Rodriguez can’t make a go of it next spring.

The Padres bid for Korean pitcher Kwang-Hyun Kim was accepted

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Korean team SK Wyverns posted pitcher Kwang-Hyun Kim and the Padres bid $2 million for the rights to negotiate with him. Multiple reports have come in saying that the club has accepted the bid, and now the Padres have 30 days to sign him.

The 26-year-old posted a 3.33 ERA and 139/81 K/BB ratio over 167 and two-thirds innings in the KBO in 2014. Ken Rosenthal says that the Padres are viewing him as a middle reliever, though some think he could be a back-end starter in the U.S.