A conversation with one of the game's great masters on the art and practice of hitting.
When it comes to teaching hitting, few do it as well as Rudy Jaramillo. Currently in his 15th season with the Rangers-the longest tenure of all big-league hitting coaches-the 58-year-old native of Beeville, Texas is arguably the best in the business. Called "a Hall of Fame hitting coach" by Alex Rodriguez, and "the best there is" by Michael Young, Jaramillo is a member of both the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame and the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame. Jaramillo recently sat down to talk about his favorite subject: the art and science of hitting a baseball
Prospects may not fire on all cylinders from the start, but some reignite after that first stumble.
While many prospects, especially hitters, can be accurately projected via their draft standing (being taken high in the draft corresponds to a scouts' estimation of their physical tools) and minor league performances (which, with adjustments for league, level, and park, accurately mirror major league performance, giving the statistical proof of the scouting estimate), every now and again the dreaded human element rears its ugly head and makes what could almost be a science frustratingly inexact.
A political-minded conversation with the well-traveled utility infielder.
Having shuttled between multiple infield positions while playing for five organizations over five seasons, Brendan Harris understands the politics of baseball. With a political science degree from the College of William and Mary, the 28-year-old Harris also understands the American political system. Now with the Minnesota Twins, Harris shared his thoughts on both political spectrums as the country prepared to inaugurate a new president.
A year-end best-of from the interview columns of 2008.
The Prospectus Q&A series was once again a regular Sunday feature in 2008, and as the primary author I hope that you found the interviews to be both informative and entertaining. A wide range of personalities from within the game of baseball shared their thoughts and opinions with BP readers from January to December, and here are some of their best quotes:
The sandwich salesman sizzles down the stretch, but it has been a down year for the Phillies slugger. What's amiss?
Ryan Howard has had himself quite the September, helping to boost a season line that had been a lot lower than what we're used to seeing from the Philadelphia slugger. In spite of the recent hot streak, his age-28 season has been the least productive of his career thus far, which brings up the question: What happened to Howard in 2008, and what can we expect from him going forward?
For some players, the upcoming break looks like the dawn of a new day, but for others, the sun may be setting fast.
The halfway point in the season has come and gone, but the All-Star Game is still a week away. The season seems to be dominated by injury news, but it's really not. Looking back, we've had some big names go down, but not so many that it would be outside the normal variance. Injuries, in some ways, are actually down from recent levels. We're seeing players come back much more quickly than in the past, and some returning from conditions that would have been career-ending five years ago. Medical science changes faster than I can type, but we're seeing those changes work to the field's advantage in most cases. Players don't just blow out their arm and head back to Spavinaw or whatever small town they came from anymore. No, the team is on the hook for a couple million and spends a year working him back. That's tough, but in the end it makes the game better. Where would the Cubs be without Kerry Wood or Ryan Dempster, two guys that are back on the field because of Tim Kremchek and Jim Andrews? Would the Rays be in the position they're in if they'd had arm injuries, or if Ron Porterfield (and before him, Ken Crenshaw) didn't do such an outstanding job of keeping players on the field? The Red Sox, the White Sox, and the Diamondbacks are all winning teams with winning medical staffs. The two go together, so when you see the athletic trainers take the field at the All-Star Game, cheer for them. They deserve it as much as the players. Powered by the iPhone 3G, on to the injuries:
C.C. Sabathia and the offense are both struggling, but it's the trickle-down effect of closer Joe Borowski's shelving that has manager Eric Wedge concerned.
The Cleveland Indians came within one game of getting to the World Series last season. With the way the Indians have played during the first three weeks of this season, however, it seems hard to believe they were that close to a Fall Classic berth just six months ago.
Reaching a statistical landmark, and changing gears in the pursuit of applied research.
"Scientists don't immerse themselves in particulars only for the grandiose (or self-serving) reason that such studies may lead to important generalities. We do it for fun."
--Stephen Jay Gould, "Opus 100", reprinted in The Richness of Life: The Essential Stephen Jay Gould
Some rules to live by when you're trying to forecast the future and look smarter than the other kids on the block.
Opening week is a great time to watch baseball, but also one to read inane baseball predictions. I'm as much of a sucker for idle stat-based pre-season speculations as the next guy, but there are limits. Really, there are. Like last week, when I read Sporting News blogger and BP alum David Pinto arguing that Tampa Bay might have a better starting rotation than Boston or New York this year. Using PECOTA to argue that the D-Rays (or whatever the hell that team is called this year) "show strength in eqERA at every level," Pinto argues that Tampa has "a good chance of becoming the class of the AL East."
In writing this, Pinto ignores one of the eight basic rules of writing the Annual Baseball Preview piece--rule number seven, actually--which reads:
A discussion about the art and challenge of scouting and player evaluation with long-time scout Tom Bourque.
With over 25 years in the scouting business, Tom Bourque knows how to evaluate talent on a baseball field. Currently a professional scout for the Cubs, Bourque has also worked for the Brewers, the Expos, and the Major League Scouting Bureau. Based in the Northeast, he has been in the Cubs organization since 1995. David talked to Bourque about learning to grade tools, why batting practice is important, and the value of makeup and pretty swings.