Kung Fu Panda planning offseason weight loss

52 Comments

Pablo Sandoval is one of my favorite players because he has a body like David Wells, runs like Kung Fu Panda, and hits .330 despite swinging at everything, which is why I’m sort of sad to read that he’s planning to spend the offseason doing “fitness and nutritional training designed to teach him how to keep his weight down”:

At 22, he is putting up terrific numbers despite his weight, which is more than his listed 246 pounds. The team is concerned he will break down unless he learns to eat properly and stay trimmer.



Sandoval acknowledges he does not eat well, particularly on the road, and he understands why he must surrender three weeks of his winter vacation for this training. “I do want to get better,” Sandoval said. “I want to get in good shape and get ready for next season. I don’t want to get hurt. I don’t want to play 120 games. I want to play 162 games.”

On one hand not being in great shape would probably cost Sandoval any chance of sticking at third base long term and dropping a few pounds likely won’t hurt his hitting. On the other hand if he’s going to be a first baseman anyway the extra weight isn’t a huge factor defensively and toting around a nice gut doesn’t seem to hurt guys like Prince Fielder, Adam Dunn, David Ortiz, Carlos Lee, Kyle Blanks, Billy Butler, and Ryan Howard.
A thin Pablo Sandoval might be five percent more valuable, but he’d be about 50 percent less interesting.

Red Sox owner: “spending money helps”

Getty Images
4 Comments

The other day Rob Manfred said, as he and other owners have said often in the past, that there is no correlation between payroll and winning. He said that defensively, in response to criticism of the slow free agent market of the past two offseasons.

As we have noted in the past, Manfred is not being honest about that. While, yes, in any given year there can be wild variation between payroll and win total — the Giants stunk last year, the A’s won 97 games — common sense dictates otherwise. What’s more, a recent study has shown that there is a pretty strong correlation between winning and payroll over time. Yes, you can fluke into a big season with a low payroll — Deadspin compared it to a cold snap occurring during a time of climate change — but if you want that “sustained success” teams claim they want, the best way to ensure it is to spend more money over time.

If you know anything about baseball labor history, though, you know well that the Commissioner and the owners will continue to mischaracterize the dynamics of the business as it suits them. Mostly because — present lefty sportswriters notwithstanding — very few people push back on their narratives. Fans tend to parrot ownership’s line on this stuff and, more often than not, baseball media acts as stenographer for ownership as opposed to critic. That gives owners a far greater ability to shape the narrative about all of this than most institutions.

Which makes this all the more awkward. From David Schoenfield of ESPN:

In apparent contradiction to his own commissioner, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry said Monday that, while there is not a perfect correlation between a bigger payroll and winning, “spending more money helps.”

Which is right. The correlation is not perfect — teams can spend a lot of money on a bad team if given the chance and a low payroll team like the Rays can bullpen their way to 90 wins — but you’re way more likely to win year-in, year-out if you’re spending than if you go cheap all the time and hope for a miracle season.

Which is not to say that Henry is some labor activist owner. He and his fellow front office officials have a long history of backing the league office on just about everything that matters and will no doubt do so with labor matters in the runup to the next CBA negotiation. The owners tend not to have a solidarity problem.

But Henry does seem to draw the line at peddling baloney, which is a shockingly necessary thing when the league and the union’s relationship turns acrimonious.