The Negro Leagues Strat-O-Matic game is fantastic

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Though not an avid player, I really like Strat-O-Matic. Though I’ve never met him in person, I’ve known Scott Simkus, the man behind the Negro Leagues version of Strat-O-Matic for a year or two.  At the Winter Meetings a couple of weeks ago I sat next to the Los Angeles Times’ Kevin Baxter in the media room for four days, and he was a really nice damn guy.  So of course I’m going to link a story by Kevin Baxter about Scott Simkus’ Negro Leagues Strat-O-Matic set when it gets published:

His name is Scott Simkus, and about a dozen years ago he commandeered a
microfilm reader at the offices of a suburban Chicago newspaper
searching for the results of a long-ago game his late grandfather, a
semipro outfielder, played against the Negro Leagues’ Cuban Stars.

Simkus, 39, never found exactly what he was looking for, but in the
archives of the Chicago Tribune and newspapers such as the Baltimore
Afro-American and the Pittsburgh Courier, he found more than 3,000
other box scores, which he parsed and cataloged into what may be the
most detailed collection of Negro League statistics ever compiled.

Those numbers allowed Simkus and Hal Richman, founder of Strat-O-Matic,
to put together a Negro League version of the game — no small, or
unimportant, feat.

The cool part of the article is that Baxter and Simkus traveled to Cedar Rapids Iowa to visit Negro Leaguer Art Pennington, the last surviving player for whom Simkus was able to compile a Strat-O-Matic card.  Pennington, Baxter and Simkus played some Strat and traded war stories.  Baxter told me in Indianapolis that it was a great trip, if for no other reason than Cool Papa Bell led off with a homer off Satchel Paige in one of their games.  Pennington sounds like an awesome dude, if for no other reason than he used the phrase “dipsy doodle,” which I haven’t heard deployed non-ironically since my uncle Harry died 25 years ago.

It’s a slow day. This is a great story.  Feed your minds a bit today ladies and gentlemen.

Brewers to give Mike Moustakas a look at second base

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The Brewers reportedly signed third baseman Mike Moustakas to a one-year, $10 million contract on Sunday. While the deal is not yet official, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports that the Brewers plan to give Moustakas a look at second base during spring training. If all goes well, he will be the primary second baseman and Travis Shaw will stay at third base.

The initial thought was that Moustakas would simply take over at third base for the more versatile Shaw. Moustakas has spent 8,035 of his career defensive innings at third base, 35 innings at first base, and none at second. In fact, he has never played second base as a pro player. Shaw, meanwhile, has spent 268 of his 4,073 1/3 defensive innings in the majors at second base and played there as recently as October.

This is certainly an interesting wrinkle to signing Moustakas, who is a decent third baseman. He was victimized by another slow free agent market, not signing until March last year on a $6.5 million deal with a $15 million mutual option for this season. That option was declined, obviously, and he ended up signing for $5 million cheaper here in February as the Brewers waited him out. Notably, Moustakas did not have qualifying offer compensation attached to him this time around.

Last season, between the Royals and Brewers, the 30-year-old Moustakas hit .251/.315/.459 with 28 home runs and 95 RBI in 635 plate appearances.