Action on and off the field, plus rumors of late-August deals, off-season action, and more.
The Rangers are trying to be copycats this season. In this instance, with Ron Washington as their manager, it only seems fitting. Thanks in large part to a vastly improved defense, the Rays went from losing at least 91 games in each of their first 10 seasons of existence to winning the American League pennant last year. That coincided with them improving from last among the 30 major-league teams in Defensive Efficiency in 2007 to first in 2008. The Rangers have made near the same leap this season after finishing last in Defensive Efficiency a year ago; they rank fifth in the majors in that category, and second in the American League behind only Seattle.
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The comeback gets completed with a game that makes a hero out of PECOTA posterboy Dustin Pedroia.
BOSTON-The Red Sox have embraced the ideals of statistical analysis and sabermertic evaluation as much as any organization in the major leagues. By following rules like only bunting with the game on the line or stealing a base in high-percentage situations, Terry Francona has led Red Sox to three postseasons in his four years as manager.
Kevin sits down with the #1 pick from the 2006 draft, Luke Hochevar, to talk about the previous year's draft, his subsequent play in an independent league, and his future as a Royal.
Watching Luke Hochevar stand behind second base
gathering balls from outfielders as the Low Class A Burlington Bees clean up
after a round of batting practice, he just looks happy to be back on a baseball
field and wearing a uniform.
There's still a lot of fallout from the Ozzie Guillen hit batsman controversy, Milton Bradley shares some thoughts on his time in LA, and David Segui outs himself as an HGH user.
"They swore they wanted character guys, but then they signed a DUI guy and a guy sleeping with a reporter and that's fine, but I got character issues?" --former Dodger Milton Bradley, on the team's treatment of his character problems while in L.A. (Los Angeles Times)
The Rockies are off to a hot start, and Jonah sits down with one of the architects of the current team, Bill Geivett. On the menu: developing young talent, competing at altitude, and creative decision making.
Bill Geivett played several seasons in the Angels' minor league system before hanging up his cleats. He quickly caught on with the Yankees as an area scout. Geivett has logged multiple stops since then. He served as farm director for the Expos; he went to Tampa Bay before the Rays ever took the field; he spent two years with the Dodgers, ascending to the role of Assistant General Manager. Geivett joined the Rockies after the 2000 season. His tenure in Colorado started on the major league scouting side. After two years he took over minor league operations. For the last two years Geivett has held the title of Assistant General Manager, Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Rockies.
The Padres reacted harshly to news of No. 1 draft pick Matt Bush's arrest on underage drinking and assault charges last week, suspending him indefinitely and threatening to void his signing bonus (Bush's assault charges have subsequently been dropped). I don't want to minimize the stupidity of Bush's behavior, nor to suggest that the Padres would have been better served by adopting a boys-will-be-boys approach--if Ryan Wilkins were caught, say, dropping his pants in front of a police officer while sipping from a Jagermeister and OxyContin Slurpee, we'd probably take a similar course of action.
But let's get a few things straight...
Freddy Garcia was coming off a down year, but you chose to bring him back at a considerable salary. What was behind that decision? What will it take for him to back to where he once was? Bavasi: How will it happen? Greater focus on his part, and more focused instruction working with the pitching coach. This is a young guy who's a good pitcher who's had good years and only had one down year. His stuff is good, his strength is good, physically he's fine. There's no reason he can't come back and be better than he was last year. How much better is open to discussion. Our approach to him in the off-season--considering him as a possible non-tender--as we went through that decision, thinking about throwing him into the pile of non-tendered players, we would have his salary to spend. Having analyzed potential players in the group of remaining free agents and potential non-tenders, if you threw all those guys together and threw Garcia in that pile, the best guy in there was going to be Freddy Garcia. Once Lee made the deal with his agent, to bring him back at the same salary, it was a no-brainer.
BP: Freddy Garcia was coming off a down year, but you chose to bring him back at a considerable salary. What was behind that decision? What will it take for him to back to where he once was?
Much will be made of the fact that this is the fourth straight season in which the A's lost in the Division Series, all of them in the final game. They've lost nine straight games in which they had a chance to eliminate their opponent, the kind of fact that can become an epitaph. I'm reluctant to make the leap from that fact to an indictment of the players' character, however, because these are successful people who, like all of us, are more than our work. The rush to brand the A's with all kinds of labels that assail their collective character is wrong. As you read what will be an avalanche of stories that glorify the Red Sox players and make the A's out to be chokers, remember that it's all media nonsense. The outcome of a baseball game, a series, or even multiple trips to the playoffs don't define a man's character, good or bad. The A's lost because they played baseball poorly at the wrong times. Is their baserunning a problem? It would seem so, but remember that this A's team allowed the fewest runs in the league and scored the sixth-fewest. They played a lot of close games, and if their baserunning was such a problem, it would stand to reason that it would have shown up in their record. The A's didn't just do this to themselves, however. They also lost because the Red Sox played good baseball.
If you're a Yankees fan or a Cubs fan and you're mad at me, rest assured that I'll be all over your favorite teams this week. It'll be easier now that we're down to two series, of course.