Chris Kahrl reflects on the careers of Rico Brogna and Robin Ventura, examines the hires of Omar Minaya and Mike Hargrove, and stumps for an improved system of professional development in Major League Baseball. These and other musings in today's Transaction Analysis.
Overwhelmed by the groundswell of warm, reminiscing letters from Expos fans, Jonah Keri shares the best reader recollections, plus two more of his own.
There was one major benefit from all of it, though: The avalanche of e-mails I received, from BP readers, old friends, family, everyone who felt the pain of losing the Expos as much as I did. There were even well-wishers with no attachment to the Expos writing in with encouraging words. The letters I received made me smile, even laugh. For that, I offer my sincere thanks.
In fact, I'm going to go one better. After reading my Expos flashbacks, a slew of readers chimed in with recollections of their own, games, moments and players that left indelible marks, some from 20, 30 years ago. With their permission, I'm going to run those reminiscences here, for other readers to enjoy.
After countless false starts, the Expos look on the brink of finally leaving Montreal. Expo fanatic Jonah Keri bids them a fond farewell, recalling better days at the Big O.
At least that's what they tell us. Of course there is still the outstanding issue of the Expos' former owners and their RICO suit against Major League Baseball, as well as gaining the approval of the notoriously flaky Washington, D.C. city council. Placating Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos is a barrier, though if Jayson Stark's report on the matter is accurate, the Orioles could pull some serious shenanigans under the terms of their settlement with MLB. There's also the matter of precedent: Montreal and Washington baseball fans alike have been jerked around every year for what seems like forever.
Given all those factors and more, I'll refrain from making predictions on the team's future. Given the strong signs that do suggest the team will play its final game in Montreal tonight, however, it seemed appropriate to say some goodbyes.
The Angels' roster shuffling means more playing time for the deserving Jeff DaVanon.
Earl Snyder and Cal Pickering finally get a fair shake. The Dodgers try to patch
their bullpen with Elmer Dessens and Scott Stewart. The Pirates bring up some
intriguing young arms. These and other happenings in today's Transaction Analysis.
"What the %@#$! are the A's doing?" That's how I found out about the Scott Hatteberg contract extension Friday night, picking up my cell phone and hearing that question.
Hatteberg was one of the A's success stories of 2002. Picked up for the bargain price of one meeeeeelyun dollars, the former catcher was made into a full-time first baseman and hit .280/.374/.433, good for a .292 EqA that ranked right in the middle of the pack among major league first basemen. Hatteberg made a strong transition to his new position; according to Clay Davenport's defensive Translations, Hatteberg saved 17 runs more than an average first baseman in 81 games last season, an excellent figure. He was one of the primary characters in Michael Lewis' Moneyball, with Lewis devoting a chapter to Hatteberg's story and, in particular, to his approach at the plate. In 2003, however, Hatteberg has hit like a replacement-level first baseman: .264/.348/.394 (which includes a monster series against the Angels over the weekend), and his .259 EqA ranks him above just a handful of regulars at the position. At 33, Hatteberg doesn't seem to have much development left, and if he is to have an unusual career path, Nate Silver's PECOTA system doesn't see it. After plugging in Hatteberg's 2003 performance, it projects a slow decline from his 2002 peak.
That's how I found out about the Scott Hatteberg contract extension Friday night, picking up my cell phone and hearing that question. At the time, Mariano Rivera was trying to blow a ninth-inning lead to the Red Sox, so unless the A's were starting Saddam Hussein in Ted Lilly's rotation slot, I really didn't care all that much what they were up to.