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December 7, 2010

Winter Meetings

Morning Activity

by Christina Kahrl

Chilly ORLANDO__Well, first things first, I'm here, having arrived in a mental fog created by Sunday's late-night hijinks thanks to the on/off/on-again Adrian Gonzalez deal. There's something funny about waking up in Chicago before dawn, with the temperatures around 11, arrive in Orlando, find temps in the 40s, and think it was warmer back home, but like only too many real estate speculators, Florida managed to leave me feeling cheated in fairly short order.

Here's hoping the Winter Meetings won't do likewise, but a slow start building to a getaway day crescendo seems likely... within limits. One thing to do today, while waiting for announcements about actual current developments, is to catch up a bit on the large volume of moves made before the Winter Meetings this year, as a number of GMs moved with particular celerity, barely waiting for the coals of the Hot Stove to catch fire before moving on some of their major action items.

However, the big development this morning was the BBWAA meeting. A number of substantive issues got hashed out, leaving me with a growing appreciation for the care the organization invests in much of what it does. The most significant discussion was about a proposed annual award for relievers. Jayson Stark deserves credit as the driving force behind the idea, with its proposed title honoring Jerome Holtzman. Debate on the subject of adoption was vigorous, and fell along a lot of the lines you might anticipate: should a specific position be singled out for its own award, or is there a real systemic flaw with leaving relievers competing with starters for attention on Cy Young or MVP ballots? Would such an award reward lamentable mediocrities in some seasons? For that matter, does it make sense to name the award after a writer who invented a statistic, one that many of us in the analysis committee love to hate, instead of a player, consistent with examples like Jackie Robinson or Cy Young? I've argued (and voted) in favor of adoption, but part of what makes the arguments about a reliever-only award so interesting is that there are understandable, reasonable arguments against its adoption.

The other, happier development was the announcement that Jay Jaffe and David Laurila are among those voted in as BBWAA members for next year. The process of getting voted in renewed my understanding that membership is a privilege, not a right, but one that requires active responsibility from those voted in.

Meanwhile, one thing reliably amusing about the Winter Meetings is the too-ready ability for a rumor to take life, get ping-ponged around the hotel halls and the Twittesphere, and wind up dying a necessary death because of multi-system failure, whether as a matter of utter implausibility or the lack of connection with any underlying reality. The "Prince Fielder to the Dodgers" jibber-jabber was yesterday's big afternoon trend, and a reflection that when news is moving slow, almost anything can suddenly become a "story." You'd think that the package proposed--James Loney and Jonathan Broxton, or one year of a closer and two years with a mediocre first baseman for an MVP candidate--would generate an immediate "no mothersmucking way," but apparently not.

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

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