This Sunday at 5:30 p.m. EST, Major League Baseball will present the fifth annual showcase of the premier minor league talents in the game. It receives an ESPN2 time slot usually reserved for reruns of the 1976 World Strongest Man competition and gets about the same amount of national attention, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better place to watch talent assemble. There are eight major league All-Stars this year who have participated in one of the four Futures Game contests, and that number will only rise as improving players like Lance Berkman, Joel Pineiro, and Brett Myers find their way to the big stage in the coming years. However, since the game doesn’t receive much in the way of promotion (shocking, I know), people still ask questions. So, here are some answers.
As we hit the unofficial halfway point of the season, and a large number of BP Staff hit Denver this weekend, I wanted to take this opportunity to say thanks to all of you who come to visit Baseball Prospectus on a regular basis, and have supported us through your purchase of the Baseball Prospectus Annual, and your subscriptions to Baseball Prospectus Premium. We had very high goals for this year, and thanks to you, we’ve not only met our goals, we’ve dramatically exceeded any reasonable or unreasonable expectations we may have had. Thank you very much.
We’ve added a number of new team members who we hope you’ll enjoy reading, and over the next few weeks and months, we’ll be rolling out a number of new features and functionality that we hope you’ll enjoy, as well as taking steps to deal with the technical and operational challenges that inevitably come from rapid growth. We know that you have high expectations when you come to Baseball Prospectus, and we’re working very hard to earn your repeat patronage.
From organization to organization, the debate rages on: tools or performance? Tools are easy to figure out. You can look at a player on the field, watch the game, and figure out the tools a guy has. Does he have a plus arm? Prolific power? Blazing speed? Scouts regularly grade those traits and send the results back to the home office. Performance on the other hand isn’t something that can be taken in during one sitting at a game. As such, some players who may lack specific tools may find it difficult to garner attention–it’s much easier to impress with say, a dash around the bases than it is with a walk.
Thanks partly to the hiring of Theo Epstein as General Manager, the Boson Red Sox now lean heavily toward the performance side of the debate. Toiling for the Sox is a flashpoint player in the tools vs. performance debate–Kevin Youkilis. While lacking in several of the tools that scouts covet, Youkilis was an offensive machine in college, hitting .405 his senior year, with 18 home runs, 61 RBI, 22 stolen bases, and a .549 on-base percentage. Still, it was not until his summer in the Cape Cod League, where he continued to rake the ball, that he finally began grabbing attention on a larger scale. Youkilis was recently chosen to represent America in the Futures Game at All-Star Weekend. BP Correspondent Mark Haverty sat down with Youkilis to discuss tools vs. performance, the Red Sox, and the Cape Cod League.
With the All-Star break just around the corner, it’s getting kind of late to dismiss disappointing performance as “just a slump.” A number of hitters counted on to put up numbers in the middle of their teams’ lineups haven’t come close to expected performance. Is the problem with the players or the expectations of them, and which guys can be expected to bounce back in the second half?
There is nothing worse in my world than what happened yesterday morning. On the road back from a meeting, I was ready for a couple of calls from radio stations. I always like going on the radio to talk baseball, whether it’s local, my own show, or anything from a major market to a college station. Instead of getting the calls and making the trip seem a bit shorter, though, I received no calls. All of this was a bit confusing until I realized my phone was dead. For those that know me, the idea of me without a cell phone is like me without a goatee or a latte; it just doesn’t seem like Will. After four hours without service and nearly an hour on the phone with a service provider that will remain nameless (but uses a hot Welsh woman in their ads), I have service and a bunch of messages. I missed calls from sources, both stations, UPS, and a former client. You can bet I’m changing my cell phone service in a hurry. Luckily, I got service back in time to make most of my calls, apologize to those I missed, and get what I need for today’s UTK.
Another upside to the day was collecting almost all of the money from the All-Star Fan Fest tickets charity auction. We’ll have $280 to donate to the American Cancer Society soon. I’d like to thank everyone that bid and the Indianapolis Indians for donating the tickets to us. Our donation will be made in honor of Alyssa Lewandowski and our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family.
Milton Bradley is turning into a legitimate superstar for the Indians; Eric Gagne is on pace to have perhaps the greatest season ever for a reliever; and the Mariners’ bench is made up of a number of soon-to-be Tigers. All this and much more news from Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Seattle in your Friday edition of Prospectus Triple Play.