Author: Craig Calcaterra

yu darvish getty

ESPN’s Calvin Watkins doubles down on his Yu Darvish nonsense. Also fails to understand how the DL works.


Last week’s Calvin Watkins — who is primarily a football writer — slammed Yu Darvish for not pitching through elbow pain. As if that’s a thing any sensible baseball analyst would ever recommend in this day and age given the prevalence of Tommy John surgeries, given the value of a top-flight pitcher on a team-friendly contract and given the fact that the Rangers’ season has effectively been over since before Memorial Day.

Yesterday it was reported that the Rangers were probably going to shut Darvish down for the season. A move suggesting that maybe — just maybe — Darvish isn’t being soft or whatever he’s accused of being. A move which suggests that Watkins’ analysis of the situation from last week was off-base.

Watkins doesn’t seem to care. Indeed, he’s doubling down on his dissing of Darvish, once again citing the bumps and bruises of other players and saying that it appeared as though Darvish was “quitting on his team.” But that’s not the best part.

Check this stuff out. It would appear that the man the biggest sports news and information organization on the planet has covering the Major League Baseball team in one of the largest cities in America doesn’t know how the disabled list works:

Darvish could have handled things differently regarding his stint on the disabled list.

Instead of electing to go on the DL, he probably should have asked for some rest — because the Rangers would have given it to him. General manager Jon Daniels made the correct call in sitting Darvish, but perhaps the ace should have delayed the DL process a little bit.

Darvish most likely would miss two to three starts before being asked to do anything. If he was still having issues, then he would have been placed on the DL.

Darvish going on the shelf without waiting to see how he felt after a little time off raises some questions and some perception issues . . . I just wish Darvish had waited a little while before going on the DL, because you don’t want to come across as quitting on your team.

Based on that, here are the things Watkins apparently believes or misunderstands:

  • He is unaware that Darvish has been on the disabled list for some time already.
  • He believes that yesterday’s comments from Jon Daniels did something official regarding Darvish’s status as opposed to merely stating that the team does not believe Darvish will be able to pitch this year.
  • It appears that Watkins thinks that players just choose when to go on the DL as opposed to having their team put them on it.
  • It appears as if he thinks that the disabled list — like the NFL’s injured reserve list — is a season-long thing, from which no one can return once one is placed on it as opposed to a temporary thing. A temporary thing which allows for players having their time on it calculated retroactively to their last appearance. In Darvish’s case, back to August 9, when he last pitched.

Maybe some of you agree with Watkins’ “suck it up, dude!” attitude about Darvish and his injuries. I think you’re wrong if you think that way, but you are entitled to your opinion. But I’m not sure how anyone can take a thing this guy says about baseball seriously when he quite literally does not know what on Earth he is talking about when it comes to baseball.

We miss you, Richard Durrett. We miss you very badly.

Baseball on TV is 75 years old today

old TV

Cut4 at reminds us today that it’s the 75th anniversary of Major League Baseball on television. Not that it was a grand affair:

75 years ago today, an experimental station in New York City (which would ultimately become WNBC-4), aired the very first contest — a doubleheader between the Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field . . . Just 3,000 people were able to enjoy the Reds-Dodgers game in 1939 from their homes . . .

And the next day some columnist wrote about those ratings and then ranted about how baseball was dying.

Although it’s worth noting that thanks to carriage disputes and Major League Baseball’s ridiculous blackout rules, more people were able to watch that 1939 Dodgers game than non-Time Warner subscribers in L.A. and Dodgers fans in places like Las Vegas will be able to watch tonight’s Dodgers game, and we live in the gorram 21st Century.

The Dodgers, Angels and Royals have interest in Bartolo Colon

Bartolo Colon

Bartolo Colon somehow cleared waivers. Not sure how given how the Angels could desperately use a starting pitcher, but he did. Maybe no one wants to pay him $11 million next year. Seems to me that you’d want to do everything you can to improve on Wade LeBlanc and avoid having to play in the wild card game where you may be facing Felix Hernandez, Max Scherzer or Danny Duffy, but what do I know?

I know this much — because I read Andy Martino’s story about it — there is still interest in Colon:

There is still active interest in Colon. One American League executive identified that Angels, Dodgers and Royals as teams he expected to be most engaged.

“The Angels will be all over him,” the exec said. “They don’t have many prospects, but I believe the Mets want to clear the money.”

Which again makes me wonder why they didn’t just claim him, but whatever.

What I don’t get is why the Royals would be interested. They are fourth in starter ERA in the American League and have four above average starters. Their fifth — Jeremy Guthrie — is having a year about the same as Colon is. You’re going to give up a prospect for that upgrade?

Kevin Towers says he and Tony La Russa are getting along great

Kevin Towers

Most people think that Kevin Towers is a goner after the season, what with the lack of success of the Dbacks, several player moves which have not worked out too well and the fact that ownership brought in Tony La Russa and created a job for him that is above Towers in the pecking order.

But if Towers is feeling the heat, he’s not showing it. Steve Gilbert of has a Q&A up with Towers about all things Dbacks today, and one of his questions is about the La Russa situation: Tony La Russa has said recently that there are a lot of good things going on in the organization, and it seems like you two have developed a good rapport so far.

Towers: He’s been great. It’s nice to have a guy that’s been as successful in uniform around. Our dialogue has been good. I mean he’s a baseball guy, he’s easy to talk to. It’s nice to be able to pick his brain. I always wanted to pick his brain when he was in the other dugout with the Cardinals. Now when you have him on the same team, it’s very valuable — not just to me but the entire organization to have someone with his knowledge and success here.

He notes at the end that, yes, his situation is sort of up in the air. But I guess if he is canned, at least he’s had a few good months of baseball talk with a Hall of Famer.

These days, the correlation between payroll and winning is historically weak

Money Bag

It has been repeated so often that it has turned into a religion more than anything else: rich teams can buy their way into contention, poor teams cannot. Books have been written under that assumption. A swath of people who claim they were baseball fans have cited it as a reason for tuning out the game. Those rich teams like the Red Sox and Yankees have an unfair advantage, the story goes, and the other teams have no shot, it is claimed. Baseball needs a salary cap or something!

Except, even if there was some truth to that ten or fifteen years ago, it’s certainly not the case now. Today Brian MacPherson Providence Journal tells us just how un-true that is. He has run the payroll numbers against the W-L records and has found that a list of teams in alphabetical order has greater predictive power of team success than does a list of team payrolls from highest to lowest:

Ten years ago, by correlation calculations, a team’s payroll accounted for around 25 percent of its success . . . By correlation statistics, payroll accounts for barely more than four percent of teams’ success now.

The correlation coefficient between payroll and wins this season (0.202) is even smaller than the correlation between the standings and the first letters of the cities in which teams play (0.24). In other words, you’d have a slightly better chance of predicting playoff participants simply by using alphabetical order than by using payroll numbers.

There are a lot of reasons for this, many of which we’ve talked about around these parts for years. Smarter front offices, locking young players up to long term deals before they get too expensive. More overall money available to smaller revenue teams due to TV deals and the like. Changes to the draft and international free-agent signings. The reduction of PEDs in the game which means fewer older guys (i.e. the guys who can be acquired via free agency) making impacts.

I doubt this will change the mindless talking points of the baseball bashers. They’ll still auto-pilot on “baseball needs a salary cap” talk next winter when big free agents sign someplace. Or they’ll just change their complaints, moving from “The Yankees and Red Sox win it all the time because they’re rich!” to “No one can get excited about baseball now that marquee teams like the Yankees and Red Sox stink! Who wants to watch a Royals-Brewers World Series anyway?”

But the cool thing about facts is that they remain facts even if idiots ignore them. And the fact is, baseball has a far more level playing field now than it has had in a long time.