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

Brian Cashman

The Yankees are going to give Brian Cashman a contract extension

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Buster Olney reports that the Yankees “have begun the process of constructing a new contract for longtime general manager Brian Cashman.” His expires after the season, and the Bombers want him back, it seems.

Not sure how I feel about that, actually. Cashman has long been a good GM, but is he the right GM for where the Yankees are and what they need? If your team is old and, it would seem, at the end of competitive arc, however long it has been, and now needs to build up talent in the system, do you stick with the guy whose system hasn’t developed a solid young position player since Robinson Cano?

I’m not saying Cashman should be fired or let go completely. The guy knows the organization well and can navigate all that a Yankees executive needs to navigate better than probably anyone. But I wonder if at this stage he shouldn’t be more of a team president or GM emeritus type as opposed to the guy tasked with what appears to be a necessary rebuild in the Bronx.

No, it’s not a problem that Derek Jeter is baseball’s most popular player

Derek Jeter
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I expect a lot of hamfisted and questionable analysis about baseball from people who don’t know a bunch about baseball. But it’s rather shocking to see some come from Nate Silver. He’s the former managing partner of Baseball Prospectus for crying out loud, so he should know better, but nope, we get this:

“If Mike Trout walked into your neighborhood bar, would you recognize him?” The New Yorker’s Ben McGrath raised that question in a provocative essay last month.

I’m reasonably certain that I would recognize the MLB outfielder if he walked into One Star. But McGrath’s point is well-taken. Despite being (as McGrath aptly calls him) a “once-in-a-generation talent,” Trout is relatively anonymous . . . I looked up the search traffic for Jeter, along with that for every other baseball player to post at least 30 wins above replacement (WAR) from 2004 through 2014 . . . The chart below lists everyone else’s search traffic relative to Jeter’s.Trout’s also much less famous than Derek Jeter, a shortstop who hit .256, with four home runs, this year . . . It’s not healthy for a sport when its most popular player is 40 years old.

I’m reasonably certain that no one was searching for Mike Trout in 2004 for the simple reason that he turned 13-years-old in 2004. If you were Googling him then your searches were probably more likely to turn up on some list at the local police department than on Google Trends.

That aside, on what planet does the popularity of Google searches for young stars — especially for a time period which is skewed very heavily in favor of old baseball players — have any bearing on the health of a game overall? I’m reasonably certain that Michael Jordan would still be among the most popular basketball players in those terms despite the fact that he hasn’t played for over a decade. Go look at Tim Tebow’s numbers and tell me that bodes ill for the NFL.

But I’ll not deny that Jeter is popular. And I’ll wisely leave specific points of data to Silver, as that’s the thing he knows about a billion times better than me. Instead, I’ll ask about methodology. Specifically, how big a hole would Silver tear in someone who cited Google search popularity in a political context? I figure he’d let fire with both barrels and then borrow someone else’s barrels to finish the job.

I also think he would never allow that conclusory statement — “It’s not healthy for a sport when its most popular player is 40 years old” — go without asking why that is. Which Silver never says. He just asserts. Based on data of extremely dubious utility. In other words, he does exactly what the biggest targets of his considerable critical skills haven’t been able to get away with for years.

The Wild Card game rosters remind you how weird the Wild Card game is

Danny Duffy
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The A’s and Royals have released their rosters for tonight’s one-and-done game. And it’s pretty understandable they’re set up this way given a one-and-done situation. First the Athletics:

Now the Royals:

The A’s have are apparently going to be prepared to use a starter like Hammel as a reliever. The Royals are going to rely on Danny Duffy to be a lefty option out of the pen, apparently. If things go weird we could see, like, six or seven pitchers thrown at this bad boy from each team.

Which, again, makes sense given the stakes and the format. But, as I have come to do, I will be trying extra hard tonight to forget how un-baseballish this all is and just go with the excitement of an elimination game. Perhaps pretending that they’ve played six already and that they’re tied 3-3.

Chris Davis is playing third base in instructional league games

chris davis getty
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The Orioles’ third baseman in exile is keeping prepared:

Davis would be eligible to play in a theoretical ninth Orioles playoff game and beyond. If they get that far, however, one wonders if they won’t have decided by then that, really, Kelly Johnson is a better bet.