Author: Matthew Pouliot

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You’ll probably have to lie on your resume to work for the Cubs


As their new, most excellent consultant Tangotiger points out, the Cubs are on the prowl for a new Director of Research & Development — Baseball Operations. Which is good news for some lucky person out there. All the Cubs are asking for is…

Required Qualifications

  • Advanced degree or equivalent experience in statistics, mathematics, computer science, or a related quantitative field.
  • Demonstrated project management, problem-solving, and teaching abilities.
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate difficult and complex concepts at an appropriate level to colleagues possessing a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives.
  • Demonstrated expert-level knowledge (of at least 5 years) with baseball-specific data, modern statistical techniques, and sabermetric analysis.
  • Demonstrated expertise with R, STATA, SPSS, SAS, or similar software.
  • Demonstrated expertise with SQL Server, Microsoft Access, My SQL, Oracle, database administration/structuring, data warehousing and data modeling.
  • Knowledge and demonstrated ability in the areas of programming, software-coding, ETL, and/or machine learning techniques.

So, yeah, I’m out. I’ve got plenty of SAS and I do have a reputation as a bit of an oracle, but when it comes to programming, even the TI-83 kicked my butt.

The real stumbling block there, however, might be No. 3. The kind of people with the type of knowledge this job requires aren’t always the best at presenting it to the rest of us.

But best of luck to the Cubs and their likely strategy of offering said person one-fifth of what he/she could make at a Fortune 500 company. And then hiring them anyway because everyone wants to work in baseball.

If Alex Rodriguez cheated, it was just to help the Yankees win

Alex Rodriguez

Maybe it’s just me, but I see a great deal of irony in the idea that Alex Rodriguez, years after all of the allegations and admissions, with hundreds of millions of dollars already earned, was still trying to cheat in 2012.

What, pray tell,  did Rodriguez have to gain by cheating, nine years after he said he stopped. Fame? I imagine he already had more than he’d like. Money? He does have $30 million possibly coming to him if he sets home run records. That’s essentially equal to one year’s extra salary for a guy who has already taken home about $300 million. The admiration of an adoring American populace? Fat chance.

I’m not writing to defend Alex Rodriguez. I abhor the act of cheating. I understand it, though. I’d be very tempted to do it myself if millions of dollars were at stake, as would so many others who are quick to condemn. For that reason, I’m pretty rational about the cheaters themselves.

But if we believe A-Rod’s first story, he never cheated until after he got his huge, $252 million contract from the Rangers. I don’t necessarily buy that, especially in light of today’s news, but obviously, he didn’t stop once he got his cash, as someone who was simply in it for the money might have done.

So, what is this all about, if not money? In my opinion, it’s about winning. Alex Rodriguez, for whatever faults he may have, has always desperately wanted to win. Sometimes it’s caused him to try too hard. I’m mostly referring to some postseason struggles in saying that, but it could also be applied to injecting powerful and potentially harmful substances into his body. A-Rod wants to win. And he wants to be liked, by teammates and fans both, which is another obvious product of winning.

Here we were in 2010, 2011, 2012. Rodriguez is signed through 2017. Nothing he did those seasons was going to affect his next contract. He’s making $30 million per year. He’s already admitted to steroid use early in his career, which would seem to make it imperative that he never again be caught with such substances if he wanted any chance of getting into the Hall of Fame when the time came.

And, yet, he put it all into jeopardy, according to today’s account in the Miami New Times.

In my eyes, whatever Rodriguez personally had to gain by using steroids was dwarfed by what he could lose by continuing to cheat. The potential voiding of his contract. Alienating the fans who had forgiven him. Endorsements. The rain of boos in every stadium he plays in going forward. What is that against an extra year’s salary?

Maybe I don’t know. I’m not a professional athlete, much less one of the greatest to ever play the game. I don’t have any real insight into what’s going on in Rodriguez’s head. In my head, it’s simply mind-blowing that Rodriguez would continue to cheat after everything that’s happened. That’s the main reason I have some doubts about today’s news; not the report itself but that Dr. Bosch was treating the actual Rodriguez and not some A-Rod he made up on paper.

Because this Rodriguez seemed to have so very much more to lose than to gain by cheating. If he did it anyway, wasn’t it all in the name of making the Yankees better? More wins, more championships, more love. I don’t see what else it could have been about.

Report: Nick Johnson chooses retirement at age 34

nick johnson getty

Former Yankees, Nationals and Orioles first baseman Nick Johnson, one of the great what-ifs of the last 15 years, has opted for retirement, WFAN’s Sweeny Murti reports.

A phenomenal hitting talent, Johnson missed his first full season in the Yankees system before even arriving in the majors. He hit .345/.525/.548 in 132 games in Double-A in 1999, then sat out 2000 because of a wrist injury that required surgery. He debuted with the Bombers in 2001, but he struggled to establish himself as he continued to deal with wrist problems. After he hit .284/.422/.472 in 96 games as a 24-year-old in 2003, the Yankees traded him, Juan Rivera and Randy Choate to the Expos for Javier Vazquez.

Johnson played 4 1/2 seasons for the Expo-Nats and had his best year in 2006, hitting .290/.428/.520 with a career-high 23 homers and 77 RBI in 147 games. Unfortunately, his season ended on Sept. 23, when he suffered a broken leg in a collision with Austin Kearns. He went on to miss the entire 2007 campaign, and although he returned in 2008, he played in just 38 games then due to a torn wrist ligament.

Johnson’s last hurrah came in 2009, when he hit .291/426/.405 in 133 games for the Nationals and Marlins. He finished second in the NL in OBP to Albert Pujols. After that, he played in 24 games with the Yankees in 2010, missed the 2011 season and then played in 38 games with the Orioles last year.

Johnson, now 34, finishes his career with a .268/.399/.441 line in 2,698 at-bats over 10 seasons. That .399 OBP is 62nd all-time for players with at least 3,000 plate appearances. Had Johnson been able to avoid his initial wrist problems and stay relatively healthy, it’s pretty easy to imagine him putting together a career in which he had a few .300 seasons, several top-three finishes in OBP and maybe 300 homers over 15-18 seasons. Maybe that’s not a Hall of Famer, but with the possible .420 OBP, some would have argued for him.

Spencer Lader wants to take Carlos Delgado down with him

Carlos Delgado comeback

If you don’t know who Spencer Lader is, that’s OK. Don’t feel bad. Still, the New York Daily News thought he was important enough to dedicate an article to his rantings, mostly because he’s trying desperately to connect Carlos Delgado to steroids.

Sports memorabilia dealer Spencer Lader and other defendants in the case want [Jose] Reyes, now with the Blue Jays, to tell them under oath what he knows about Delgado’s relationship with Anthony Galea, the controversial Toronto sports medicine doctor — and human growth hormone proponent — who pleaded guilty in July 2011 to transporting misbranded and unapproved drugs into the United States.

“I’m not saying Delgado used steroids, but I do have a right to know if he did,” Lader says. “We thought his name had commercial value, but everybody knows players linked to steroids have no commercial value.

“I want to be the first person in memorabilia to keep these people accountable.”

Ummm, no. You want to make money.

Here’s the case: Delgado is suing Lader and other defendants, saying them owe him at least $767,500 under the terms of the an exclusive memorabilia deal agreed to in 2006.

Lader, apparently, thinks his best defense is trying to get Reyes to say Delgado used steroids, something that seems both highly unlikely to happen and very irrelevant anyway. If Delgado’s memorabilia proved next to worthless, it certainly had nothing to do with him being connected to steroids, because no one really ever linked him with steroids until Lader.

Lader does make some other claims, of course, including the funny note than Delgado would sign Alex Rodriguez bats for Lader instead of his own. The article closes with one little gem:

Delgado never did reach the 500 home run club. He hit 473 home runs in a career that ended with a whimper. Delgado played in just 26 games for the Mets in 2009 before his season ended that May with hip surgery. Hip problems are a long-term side effect of performance-enhancing drug use, Lader notes.

Yeah, let’s just take his word for it. After all, it fits right in with the Daily News trying to link steroids and A-Rod’s hip injury last month.

Danny Espinosa will play through torn rotator cuff

Danny Espinosa, Allen Craig

Rather than undergo surgery that likely would have cost him at least April and May, Danny Espinosa has decided to play through a torn left rotator cuff he believes he originally sustained in September,’s Mark Zuckerman reports.

Espinosa was originally diagnosed with a bone bruise after diving for a ball on Sept. 7.

“I knew something was wrong,” he said. “The cortisone shot masked me for a little bit, and everybody kept asking me: “Is your shoulder OK? Is your shoulder OK?’ I’m not going to come out and say, ‘Yeah, I’m hurt. My shoulder hurts. I’m just playing through pain.’ But there was something wrong.”

Espinosa struggled offensively over the rest of the season and only learned about two weeks after the Nationals were eliminated from the playoffs that he had a tear. He’s since worked to build up the muscles around his rotator cuff, and he resumed swinging on Jan. 1.

“My swing feels really good, better than it did last year,” he said. “I’m really confident in my swing right now. Maybe it’s because I have the confidence that my shoulder’s alright. But I do feel really good.”

Espinosa is set to remain the Nationals’ starting second baseman this season, but if the shoulder becomes a problem again, the team does have a quality fallback in Steve Lombardozzi.