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June 13, 2002

The Daily Prospectus

An Experiment

by Joe Sheehan

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I tend to consider notes columns a lazy way to fill space. I really enjoy reading them, but I generally write them only when I can't carry an idea through to column length. [Insert punch line here.]

The weird thing is that each time I write one, as I did last Thursday, I get a bunch of e-mail from people who say they really enjoy the format. What this says about my regular work product is something that keeps me up at night, but that's a topic for another day.

So once a week, probably Thursday or Friday, I'm going to riff. I don't have a name for it, maybe I never will, but it'll be a weekly run through whatever leftover thoughts are rattling around my brain.

 

  • Need another reason to hate interleague play? The only game on today's schedule is a rainout makeup between the Orioles and Indians. The only game on the schedule next Monday is an NL tilt between the Astros and Brewers.

    The need to leave a day available to make up interleague rainouts—because of the difficulty in finding common off-days for teams in different leagues—is one of the hidden costs of the gimmick. I don't even like the days before and after the All-Star Game, so anything that causes another interruption in the daily flow of a baseball season is a bad thing.

     

  • Last night, Mike MacFarlane was covering the Indians/Phillies game for ESPN2. With the Phillies holding a 4-3 lead and rallying in the ninth, MacFarlane made the comment that they should get as many runs as they could, because he could remember "taking a four- or five-run lead in the ninth, only to lose it" against past Indians teams.

    Well, I couldn't let that lie, and was curious to see whether this had ever happened to a MacFarlane team. Darned if the first series I looked up on Retrosheet (www.retrosheet.org) didn't feature a game, in 1999, when MacFarlane's A's blew a 4-0 lead over the Indians, giving up two in the eighth and three in the ninth.

    Sorry for doubting you, Mike.

     

  • Shea Hillenbrand is still hitting reasonably well, but after starting the season with a dramatic improvement in his plate discipline, he's now walked four times in his last 162 at-bats. Plate discipline isn't just about bases on balls—it's also about hitters' counts—but it's the rare player who can be a productive hitter with that kind of walk rate.

     

  • In this week's negotiating session, the owners have apparently offered to phase in the luxury tax on payrolls, as well as reduce the amount of money in the commissioner's slush fund from $100 million to $85 million.

    This is being spun as movement, a concession on the owners' part. Well, I guess it is, in the sense that if someone comes into your house with a gun intending to steal all your possessions and kill you slowly, them offering to kill your quickly is a concession. Realistically, though, it's a completely meaningless gesture, and doesn't change the negotiations at all.

    For real progress to be made, the owners are going to have to stop trying to get the package that the NFL and NBA owners have, because they're not dealing with the players in those sports. Their strategy still appears to be force a strike and implement their dream system, and until they make a substantial move, or pledge to neither implement nor lock out, there's no reason to suspect otherwise.

     

  • The Minnesota Twins have three of the five best relievers in baseballJ.C. RomeroTony Fiore, and Mike Jackson—and two others in the top 30.

    OK, they have one of the worst, as well, in Bob Wells. Still, if you're looking for the reason they're putting a lot of distance between themselves and the White Sox, here it is.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

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