February 2011

Why baseball is better than football, part 482

Let me tell you a(nother) reason why baseball is the best game there is: There is no scouting combine.

Football scouts get information overload. The vast majority of pro-caliber football players are already playing three or four years worth of nationally-televised showcase games 8-9 times per season at big-time schools. Each player’s every move is taped in practice and games. The amount of information available on football players is huge already. Then there’s the week-long combine, also nationally televised.

Now look at baseball. Sure, there are showcase camps and Aflac All-American games where some
of the best amateur players get together to play against each other. But there is no one-stop-shop where scouts get to dress virtually every draft-eligible player in awkward spandex to evaluate. They have to figure out if some peach-fuzzed kid with a mid-90s fastball who doesn’t need to throw a curveball against overmatched competition at a tiny high school will end up being a better player than a guy who plays against the top college competition in the nation.

You know Jason Heyward, considered one of the best young players in the big leagues? Thirteen teams passed on him, many saying it was because they didn’t get to see him swing the bat – he walked too much when scouts were around. And this was a high-schooler, usually one of the easier places to scout. Mike Piazza? Maybe the best offensive catcher in history. Drafted in the 62nd round. Teams drafted 1,389 players before the Dodgers took him. The NFL brags “every pick counts” because Tom Brady was a seventh rounder. Please. While NFL scouts are asked to find players who can contribute months (and eventually years) after the draft, MLB scouts are sometimes asked to find a 16-year-old in Venezuela who could be productive in the big leagues 10 years later after developing in the minors.

And you know what that means? Just like a lot of people agree that hitting a round ball with a round bat is the toughest thing to do in sports, trying to FIND people who can do that is the toughest assignment in sports scouting.

  • From Buster Olney: Looks like the Gonzalez trade haul will be
    assigned like this… 1B Anthony Rizzo to Triple-A Tucson, RHP Casey
    Kelly to Double-A San Antonio, OF Reymond Fuentes to Advanced-A Lake
    Elsinore. Which, to me, increases the likelihood of an Everett Williams
    encore in Fort Wayne to start the year, but that’s just a guess. Also,
    Rizzo doubled off Simon Castro in an intrasquad game.
  • Spring Training games started this weekend and Fort Wayne alum C Nick Hundley hit a grand slam and former TinCaps 3B James Darnell homered.
  • Former TinCap RHP Matt Lollis keeps getting noticed, this time by the San Diego U-T. You get the feeling he never would have been under the radar if he hadn’t been injured his senior year of high school.
  • Fort Wayne alum OF/1B Kyle Blanks is hitting in the cage and playing defense in intrasquad games as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
  • How do you score runs without a masher like Adrian Gonzalez? Run wilder than Hulkamania, and Fort Wayne alum OF Will Venable could help in that department this year, especially with new first-base coach Dave Roberts.
  • Fort Wayne alum OF Cedric Hunter has had an up-and-down career – he led the
    Cal League in hits in 2008 and was third in batting average… behind
    Daniel Nava and Carlos Santana, both now in the big leagues.
  • Fort Wayne alum (and now-Rays RHP) Matt Bush pitched a perfect inning this weekend.
  • In this Padres roundup,
    the Opening Day payroll is around $46 million, the team sometimes pays
    guys more than league minimum (even when it doesn’t have to) and Orlando Hudson loves NASCAR.
  • Hey, remember John Roskos? Neither does anyone else, which is Bill Center’s point: He was a Spring Training legend and didn’t amount to diddly poo. The moral of the story is, don’t put too much stock in these games, especially this early.
  • Former Padres GM Kevin Towers recounts his final days with San Diego. They’re awkward.
  • The Diamondbacks-Rockies spring training facility looks awesome.
  • Fort Wayne alum (and now Minnesota Twins) OF Michael Cuddyer isn’t playing yet because of a wart on the bottom of his foot.
  • The Seattle newspaper profiles Fort Wayne native and Mariners manager Eric Wedge.
  • Marlon Byrd made history last year and was the first guy to have non-organ music played at Wrigley Field, and he goes with a song by somebody named Gang Starr? Come on, man!
  • From Baseball America: Bubba Starling, who is draft-eligible this year, is a better athlete than Mike Trout, Donovan Tate or Aaron Hicks were coming out of high school. Wow.
  • How do you make the Wedding of the Century even better? By making the reception a costume party. Ladies and gentlemen, Dave Hutte!
  • What does a wildly successful TV director/philanthropist, engaged to be married, do with his free time? He suggests Wonderlic test questions to ESPN’s Page 2… And gets the top spot. Ladies and gentlemen, Dave Hutte!
  • It took watching “Muppets from Space” to remind me how fantastic and curmudgeon-y Statler and Waldorf are. “I wonder if there’s life on other planets…” “Why do you care? You don’t have a life on THIS planet! DAHAHAHAHA!”

Musical guest… Weezer!

Take care!

DW

Punxsutawney Phil: complete fraud

The weather today in Fort Wayne is a brutal reminder that we shouldn’t trust weather predictions from rodents. Spring seems an awfully long time away.

Random thoughts:

  • Former TinCaps RHP Matt Lollis is on the fast track. He seemed to fly under the radar last year when he opened the season in extended spring training, but he was probably the best starter the TinCaps had at the end of the year. I’m on the bandwagon.
  • Padres RHP Mike Adams might be able to fill the closer’s role if/when Heath Bell leaves. Bell himself says Adams’ stuff is better than his own.
  • The Padres hope OF Cameron Maybin has a breakthrough now that he’s not looking over his shoulder.
  • Orlando Hudson is an early riser. Quote of the day: “A sleepy-headed man won’t keep no woman.”
  • Highlights from yesterday’s Padres chat: Fort Wayne alum C Luis Martinez looks good handling pitchers in their bullpen sessions, Orlando Hudson is probably an upgrade over David Eckstein even if Hudson doesn’t bounce back offensively and Tony Gwynn, Sr. is recovering from back surgery. Another topic of conversation was “draft needs.” In baseball, only draft need for a team that drafts well is “the best player available.” This isn’t the NFL. If you pin your hopes on drafting one player to solve a positional problem in the big leagues, you’re asking for disappointment.
  • Peter Gammons says the Red Sox have a culture of helping a brother out, as SS prospect Jose Iglesias has learned.
  • Matt Stairs, now in camp with the Nationals, is “one of the coolest guys you’ll ever meet,” says Jayson Werth. Stairs originally signed with the Expos, so technically he’s back with his original franchise.
  • With Adam Wainwright done for the foreseeable future, would the Cardinals void the last two years of his contract and use the cash on Albert Pujols? Maybe, but if they still ended up losing Pujols, that would be disastrous. Especially given the recent success stories of pitchers recovering from Tommy John surgery.
  • The Pirates are sending mixed messages on what it’ll take for them to spend more money on major-league payroll.
  • LHP Mike Hampton is still kicking and trying to win a spot in the Diamondbacks’ bullpen.
  • Phillies OF Domonic Brown will get a long, long look in spring training. He’s one of the top prospects in the game, but the Phillies don’t seem committed to having him in the big-league starting lineup out of camp. Not yet, at least. The Phillies’ lineup is awfully left-handed now that Jayson Werth is gone.
  • The Nationals will try to get OF Bryce Harper an at-bat in their spring opener. I’m picturing 50-year-old male Nationals fans shrieking, weeping and fainting at the sight of him.
  • How do they operate those fancy Gametrackers you get to enjoy during baseball season? Find out from a datacaster. They ran a Gametracker for the All-Star Game last season and it’s a pretty interesting computer program. Games at the Double-A, Triple-A and MLB level get this type of tracking.
  • Mike Tyson owns a tiger in movies, but in real life he owns pigeons. He’s getting a reality show about it, so it must be true. He claims the first time he fought anybody was after a bully killed one of his birds. You can guess who won that fight.
  • This weekend I’ll be on a quiz bowl-ish team in a fundraiser called The Brain Game. While we all know my team is favored to win, the important part is that the game raises money for the Fort Wayne Center for Learning. Check them out.
  • Eddie Money is playing a concert in Fort Wayne tonight and nobody I know wants to go. So there goes that “two tickets to paradise” joke I’ve been saving for months.

Musical guest… Eddie Money!

Have a great weekend!

DW

Just call them Casey Kasem

“And now… on with the countdown.”

Right around noon yesterday, Baseball America released their Top 100 prospect list for 2011. I didn’t really get time to look at it all that closely until this morning, so here are initial thoughts:

  1. The only former TinCap on the list is RHP Simon Castro at No. 58. He was 57th last year. BA says he’ll get to the big leagues this year. From a selfish standpoint, hopefully he doesn’t get there before mid-July when the Tucson Padres come to Fort Wayne. Simon was one of my favorite pitchers I’ve covered. The others, if you’re wondering, were Matt Lollis and Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann.
  2. Any list like this is really more about generalities than “Player X is one spot higher than Player Y, so Player X is going to be the better player.” Historically, if you’re in the top five, you’re probably going to have a good-to-great major-league career. Beyond that, it’s a mix of guys who have shown some kind of weakness, some bigger than others. The ones who make it big are the ones who shore up the weaknesses and turn themselves into elite players. That’s why it’s an educated guess after you get past the first handful of players.
  3. Royals fans have to be happy with three prospects in the top 10.
  4. Just because a player isn’t ranked high, don’t write him off. Anybody considered to be in the top 100 of what they do is pretty good. Examples: Mike Trout went from No. 85 last year to No. 2 this year, Rockies RHP Jhoulys Chacin was No. 71 last year and he had a really nice MLB debut last year. So did Mets 1B Ike Davis (62).
  5. These are all just for fun. Everything figures itself out once the games start. Which is not far off, by the way.

Secondly, another story I didn’t get to expand on yesterday… the Padres are holding a prospect minicamp in Peoria to give some of their top minor-leaguers an early start. The list of players is here. If they haven’t played in Fort Wayne yet, I’d say chances are good they’ll be here soon. But then again, speculating on an Opening Day roster before minor-league spring training even starts is a good way to guess wrong.

Random thoughts:

  • If you haven’t been keeping up with the Facebook, you can check out the TinCaps’ lineup of theme nights for 2011 at TinCaps.com. The photo attached to the story might be my favorite article photo in our site’s history.
  • You can audition to sing the national anthem before a TinCaps game. But I’m warning you now: if you drag the song out and make it too long, I will zipline down from the press box to the field and sweep you out of here like it’s amateur night at the Apollo.
  • Fort Wayne alum LHP Cory Luebke will pitch in the Padres’ Spring Training opener Sunday(!) against the Mariners. Also in that article: Heath Bell won’t be available for the weekend and former TinCaps LHP Juan Oramas strained his throwing shoulder last week and hasn’t thrown since.
  • SPRING TRAINING GAMES START ON SUNDAY!
  • Padres SS Jason Bartlett and 2B Orlando Hudson are learning to play together.
  • This isn’t the first story like this I’ve seen about Hudson having a Type-A personality (I also saw an MLB Productions piece about him last year). He has to be the early favorite for 2011 clubhouse leader.
  • The Padres think they got lucky with their catchers last year and are hoping for better depth this year.
  • Fort Wayne alum RHP Jake Peavy threw live batting practice yesterday. So far, so good in his rehab from a freak injury.
  • Yankees C Russell Martin’s knee still isn’t quite right. As a fantasy baseball owner of Jesus Montero, I hope Martin sits long enough to let Montero play his way into the starting job.
  • Rays GM Andrew Friedman looks kind of like a certain mid-major basketball star. Friedman may play better defense than Jimmer, and I’m only half-kidding.
  • Brewers RHP Zack Grienke doesn’t really do
    the whole cliche thing. Example: “…every day I come to the park and
    want to get focused on my start, and then random people come and waste
    my time talking every day. It takes eight minutes to get a real question because they’re, like, buttering me up. Then they get to the question and it’s a stupid question. So it’s a waste of ten minutes, and in that ten minute time, I don’t get to do what I needed to do.” If reporters are allowed to critique a player’s performance, it’s only fair that the player can return the favor.
  • From Buster Olney: The three pitchers who used their curveball the most last season were Brett Myers, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. Carpenter already had Tommy John surgery and it looks like Wainwright is on his way there.
  • The Mariners have a lot of tall pitchers. Same goes for their minor-league system.
  • Indians closer (and former MWLer) Chris Perez is adding a changeup. He was pretty good without one last year.
  • The Rockies think Vegas is underestimating them this year. But, as Padres GM Jed Hoyer told me last year when we talked about San Diego beating expectations, they don’t build those casinos by losing money. Meaning the handicappers are usually right.
  • Three MLB umpires are retiring. Maybe MLB already had replacements lined up, but it seems like four days before Spring Training is awfully late to announce something like this.
  • Which is better: preventing runs or scoring runs? Research shows preventing runs has the slight edge. Key word: slight.
  • What does a college that produced 31 Nobel Prize winners lack? A basketball win… until the other night.
  • The NBA is no longer fan-tastic. In other news, we landed on the moon.
  • Our rec league volleyball team played like champions last night. Last time I saw volleyball that good, it was at the Malibu Sands Beach Club.
  • If you’re looking to adopt a pet, PLEASE go to Animal Care & Control. It’s your tax dollars at work anyway, so make them count. I hung out with three dogs there yesterday and they were awesome. But I’m still partial to this one.

Musical guest… the group that sang the first No. 1 Casey Kasem ever counted to… Three Dog Night!

Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!

DW

Padres Affiliate Blog Network?

You’re not going to believe this, but other teams think having a blog like this is a good idea.

Yesterday I talked to Dave Oster, the president of the Lake Elsinore Storm (Advanced-A Padres), and they’re thinking about launching a Lake Elsinore-y version of The Watson Files. So in the near future, we could have the start of a Padres Affiliate Blog Network. We talked about having guest entries from one another, updating Fort Wayne readers on how our alums are doing, profiling TinCaps who get promoted to Lake Elsinore so the Storm fans know what they’re getting, etc. The possibilities are as close to endless as possibilities get.

I’m not really into self-examination for the purpose of patting myself on the back, but the conversation got me thinking about how this whole blog thing started, how it’s changed and what exactly I’m trying to do.

Well, self, I’m glad you asked. This thing started back in the winter of 2008-09 when our offices were still over at Memorial Stadium, our computers were outdated and the “blog” was really just a really long article on the old TinCaps website. Michael Limmer thought it would be a good idea for me to share (in blog form) the Parkview Field construction progress, some of the fun stuff we were planning as a team, thoughts as a Fort Wayne newcomer and whatever else I wanted to write about. At that point, I thought blogs were just a lame way for any idiot to pretend he was a journalist and I would just be adding to the noise in the media which is already too prevalent.

Since then, I’ve learned that the medium of blogging isn’t necessarily lame. Like a lot of other new media, it’s only as good as the person/organization writing it. There’s good and bad and we have to wade through the garbage to find the good stuff.

So what is it that I’d say I’m doing here? I hadn’t really thought much about it before yesterday, but I guess I’m trying to cut through a lot of the junk that’s out there, inform, entertain and generally post things that I enjoy reading myself. If it helps me be a better broadcaster, if it makes it easier for you to be a knowledgeable fan, if the Dave Hutte stories remind you of your buddy from college who was a little out-there, even if it just helps you waste your lunch break watching INXS videos, that’s what I’m going for. You’re probably not going to be interested in every single thing on here, but if it’s concise enough, you can find the things you ARE interested in, and everybody wins.

And, at the end of it all, hopefully it has you thinking about the TinCaps and baseball as a whole (and life in general) in a positive, educated and realistic way. So, really, you’re being slowly brainwashed. Joke’s on you.

Is there anything I’m doing too much? Not enough? Let me know in the comments or via e-mail – dan.watson@tincaps.com.

Random thoughts:

  • Baseball America released its Top 100 Prospects list. Former TinCaps RHP Simon Castro is No. 58. Enjoy.
  • The Padres are holding what a lot of other teams call an accelerated development camp for some of their higher-end prospects. Lots of former TinCaps in there: LHP Jose  De Paula, RHP Adys Portillo, RHP Jerry Sullivan, RHP Matt Lollis, C Jason Hagerty, INFs Jeudy Valdez, Jonathan Galvez, Jedd Gyorko and Edinson Rincon, OFs Rymer Liriano, Rico Noel and Everett Williams. Also of note, former TinCaps OF Yefri Carvajal is making the conversion to become a pitcher. I’d say most of the players who aren’t former TinCaps will be playing here soon.
  • Bud Black hasn’t announced his Opening Day starter yet. I’m surprised how many teams have. The way the schedule sets up, they may not need a fifth starter until two weeks into the season.
  • The Padres will probably have some new leaders step up in the clubhouse this year. So you’re saying you want winners? Orlando Hudson is a veteran who’s been to the playoffs.
  • When you’re a hitter taking your first live batting practice of the spring, facing the Padres’ pitching staff isn’t exactly what your ego needs.
  • Padres SS Everth Cabrera will probably start the season at Triple-A after a rough 2010. He got extra at-bats in winter ball this off-season, which could help.
  • Fort Wayne alum RHP Joakim Soria, now the Royals’ closer, wants people to stop calling him by one of the great nicknames in baseball: “The Mexicutioner.” With what’s going on in Mexico, you understand why.
  • The Blue Jays’ new manager told his team to stay off Twitter. But he didn’t ban it.
  • On the same day the Commissioner’s Office told Hank Steinbrenner to shut up about revenue sharing, the New York Post tells him to shove it when it comes to calling out his own employees.
  • Someone is making a documentary about Giants OF Andres Torres dealing with ADHD.
  • Giants closer Brian Wilson hung out with former fake-Indians closer Charlie Sheen. And all Giants fans cringed.
  • The Braves are enjoying the bargain years with OF Jason Heyward. They’d better, because his price will go up if he comes anywhere close to realizing his potential.
  • Former MWLer Jacob Turner impressed the Tigers with a bullpen session.
  • Indians prospects are playing an awkward waiting game.
  • The Red Sox met with umpires. This is the kind of thing that needs to happen for umpire-player relations to improve – too often, the two sides are only talking in the heat of the moment, which tends to not be the best time.
  • The Red Sox might be watching you, which is creepy. All I know is, you don’t want to be outside GM Theo Epstein’s circle of trust.
  • White Sox GM Kenny Williams says spending $30 million a year on anyone is “asinine.” Even if that player is Albert Pujols. And yes, he means it. And yes, he’s probably looking at you, Cubs.
  • Brewers RHP Zack Greinke says he wouldn’t be playing in the major leagues if he wasn’t trying to be the best in the world.
  • Bryce Harper wants to make his pro debut in the big leagues. Good goal, but no chance. If he’s as good as everyone thinks he is, he’ll get there soon enough.
  • Sounds like Cardinals RHP Adam Wainwright’s elbow blew out. If you’ve been following closely, you know he’s had a problem with an elbow ligament for years, but it hadn’t gotten serious… until today.
  • Peter Gammons talks about the distractions people face in spring training. Personally, I don’t think “distractions” actually distract athletes as much as we want to believe. It’s stuff we talk about and ask them about, but in my experience, guys aren’t sitting around in the clubhouse talking about the Dodgers’ ownership situation or whatever other topic is big at that moment. And I can’t imagine it’s on their minds when they’re trying to hit 98 mph heat.
  • “Moneyball” is a fluid concept about making the most of undervalued assets. It’s really not all that different from good stock trading.
  • If you’re still whining about the Adrian Gonzalez trade, this story might be for you. The point: It stinks to lose your favorite player, but you’re really cheering more for the team to win than any one player, aren’t you?
  • I’m walking dogs after work today. I’m so excited, I’m about to lose control and I think I like it.

Musical guest… Lenny Kravitz!

Take care!

DW

A full-frontal media assault

If you’ve read any generic “here’s what’s been happening lately” news/feature-ish stories lately, you know that information is coming at you faster than ever. The news cycle lasts four hours instead of four days. Stories are thrown away like… something you throw away after a really short amount of time. Even commercials aren’t immune, as we found out with the Dwight Howard SportsCenter spot (it’s outstanding, but it only lasted a week! What are we doing here?).

Well, guess what, bro-chacho… Get ready for even more short-term, self-serving promotion through media that may or may not exist in three years. This blog, TinCaps game recaps, podcasts, press releases – almost literally everything I do at work – is about to make Twitter even dumber.

Just to be clear, if you’re not into the tweeting, everything will still be in its normal spot. Twitter is just a one-stop place to point people to everything. Still, for all the ripping I do against it, I have been swept (by association) into the Twittersphere. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be in the shower washing off my shame for the next three hours.

Random thoughts:

  • TinCaps single-game tickets are on sale now. If you want tickets to the Triple-A series, go here.
  • Fort Wayne alum RHP Mat Latos is predictably catching heat for his “I hate SF” autographs. He’s being accepted by his teammates now, which wasn’t always the case. Latos threw live batting practice yesterday.
  • Fort Wayne alum OF Will Venable has changed his stance from last year. He’ll probably hit leadoff this year. Last year, Padres leadoff hitters had a .302 OBP. That’s abysmal. Venable’s OBP was .324 overall, .341 when he was in the top spot.
  • Padres RHP Mike Adams needs all of spring training to get his mechanics right.
  • INF Jorge Cantu grew up in Mexico, which helps the Padres connect with their fans just across the border.
  • Padres scouting director Jaron Madison went through a lot to get to his current job.
  • Former MWLer Dee Gordon says his two favorite parks are in our league.
  • Red Sox prospect OF Ryan Westmoreland is swinging a bat in his recovery from brain surgery. When his brain condition was first diagnosed, the doctors didn’t know if he’d ever play again. Before that, he was the top prospect in the organization.
  • Twins 1B Justin Morneau is still recovering from his concussion and hopes to be ready by opening day. The weirdest part about it is, the original collision didn’t look that serious, but it obviously was.
  • Jayson Stark has the list of guys who pitched at least 10 MLB seasons and never had a losing record. Urban Shocker and Spud Chandler are two names on that list. If at least one of those names doesn’t make you giggle, we can’t be friends.
  • Two senators want to ban smokeless tobacco in MLB. It’s already against the rules in the minors, but that rule is about as well-enforced as the speed limit on the highway. Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg is already trying to quit.
  • Justine Siegal became the first woman to throw batting practice to an MLB team. I don’t know many people who actually WANT to throw BP to anyone other than their own kids, so I’d think a lot of people would welcome her.
  • When did people start calling Hank Steinbrenner “Boy George“?
  • Hank went off on “socialism” in baseball. When your team is the one paying $130 million in luxury tax, these are the kinds of things you say.
  • Alex Rodriguez had been waiting weeks to drop this joke on the media.
  • Ask BA touches on the top draft prospects and how they did in the first week of college baseball.
  • Yesterday was President’s Day. Fact: my favorite president is Lincoln. People from THIS COUNTRY were lining up in fields by the thousands and shooting each other, and he held it together. He’s the only president who’s had that happen, right?
  • Would you just watch this video again? Please?
  • Former TinCaps strength guy Rick SantaBarbara asked me to write something for his “trying to be the best at exercising” blog. Obviously he wants a true expert on the subject.

Musical guest… INXS!

Take care!

DW

American ingenuity

There are so many links to get to that this will be brief…

First of all, TinCaps single-game tickets (and tickets to the Triple-A series) go on sale Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. Buy some. Please. I don’t ask for much.

Secondly, if you thought sliced bread, color TV and HD radio were good ideas, you haven’t seen anything yet, broseph. This weekend Brent Harring introduced me to MLB.TV on the PlayStation 3. Once my head stopped exploding, I decided it’s the leader in the clubhouse as best invention of the 21st century so far. You can watch any MLB game, fast-forward to the start of any half-inning you want to watch, check out the box score while watching… it’s incredible. Blackout rules apply, so that’s lame, but if you’re an utter baseball dweeb and your team is far away, this is a must-have.

Random thoughts:

  • The TinCaps have a new Twitter address. If you’re into that sort of thing.
  • This morning I stumbled upon this: Fort Wayne alum RHP Brandon Kintzler, who pitched here in 2005, didn’t play in ’06, then spent parts of the next three years in independent leagues, made his MLB debut with the Brewers last year. He’s the 95th alum to make it to the major leagues.
  • Remember when Fort Wayne alum RHP Mat Latos almost threw a perfect game? Nobody else does either, which is Geoff Young’s point.
  • Fort Wayne alum 3B Chase Headley is a natural right-handed hitter, but you wouldn’t know it by the numbers from last year. He’s trying to even it up in 2011.
  • Former Fort Wayne manager Randy Ready is the hitting coach in San Diego now. Early in camp, he’s doing a lot of watching but not much instructing as he learns the new guys’ swings.
  • Padres prospect RHP Casey Kelly, who was the key to the Adrian Gonzalez trade, is doing a lot of listening, too.
  • It rained yesterday in Phoenix, which wiped out a lot of teams’ workouts.
  • Trevor Hoffman doesn’t really miss pitching; he’s enjoying life as a consultant/dad.
  • The Padres’ TV deal kind of stinks – and when they re-negotiate it for 2012, that could bring in a nice chunk of cash, which could help with payroll flexibility.
  • Fort Wayne alums Ray Chang and Michael Cuddyer get shout-outs in a Twins update.
  • Legendary author Ben Hill has the rundown of his favorite promotions scheduled for minor-league parks this year.
  • Albert Pujols wants 10 years on his next contract, which would be OK if he wasn’t going to be 32 at the beginning of the deal. Michael Wilbon wants the Cubs to sign him. The Cubs’ owner isn’t exactly squashing that speculation. The Cubs’ only big contract after 2012 is Alfonso Soriano, so they’d be in a position to make a run at Pujols. I just hope he hires a bodyguard named Virgil, starts wearing lavish tuxedos and laughing at things that aren’t really that funny.
  • The Tigers are saying all the right things about Miguel Cabrera.
  • Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez (former Midwest Leaguer) is considering moving his family to Miami because of the potential for trouble in Venezuela now that he’s a star.
  • Grady Sizemore is coming along fine, Carlos Santana will start an intrasquad game this week and Kenny Lofton is a guest instructor at Indians camp.
  • The Red Sox acquired Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford this off-season, but their rotation could really improve just by guys getting back to their normal selves.
  • John Kruk was on the radio this morning and said Rangers RHP Brandon Webb (a former MWLer) isn’t looking too hot in Rangers camp.
  • The Nationals held tryouts to be part of one of the most momentous occasions in all of sports – the running of the presidents’ race.
  • Brandon Phillips is taking PR advice from Chad Johnson. Gasp.
  • In an underrated coaching story, Davey Lopes took his talents from the Phillies’ first-base coach’s box to the Dodgers. Sam Perlozzo will try to take his place. Lopes was, by all accounts, REALLY good at helping his guys get jumps and steal bases. So remember that in your fantasy drafts.
  • Bats in college baseball are being made to perform more like wooden bats. Which is good from both a safety standpoint and a scouting standpoint.
  • Every MLB team is hiring somebody to do this “dream job” thing. This looks like a beat writer’s job, minus the “being at the games” part. Instead of living a life of luxury on airplanes and swanky hotels, you get to live in New York.
  • Hopefully Bill Simmons can do to the Internets what he did to the television: class it up.
  • Dave Hutte status update: “It’s ice, ice baby outside!”

Musical guest… The Beatles!

Take care!

DW

Same as it ever was

Today I drove to work with the windows down. The snow is melted off the grass on the field. It’s a good day.

Also, someone sent me this video. I literally clapped after watching it. Another reaffirmation of the fact that dogs rule. And if you don’t agree, we’re not friends anymore. Lord knows Mark Buehrle agrees with me.

Random thoughts:

  • A well-placed source told me last night that former TinCaps 1B Cody Decker “runs trivia night” at an establishment in his hometown of Santa Monica. The source didn’t specify if that means Decker is the emcee for the trivia or if he is an unstoppable trivia competitor, but neither would surprise me.
  • Another well-placed source told me there’s no word yet on who will serve as the TinCaps’ strength coach this year. Two factors are probably in play here: 1.) Mark Brennan (who was here for parts of the last two years) took a job with the Marlins, a loss as crippling as LeBron leaving the Cavaliers. It has obviously left the Padres reeling and searching for answers. 2.) Apparently word has gotten out that any strength coach who comes to Fort Wayne will be humiliated in the weight room on a daily basis by the radio guy, a phenomenon which we saw on full display last year when Rick SantaBarbara left the team in shame to “go back to school.” He must be pursuing a master’s degree in bicep curls.
  • Question: Who are 3B Chase Headley, C Nick Hundley and OF Will Venable? Answer: Three Fort Wayne alums who want to take leadership roles for the Padres this year. Jeopardy.
  • Trevor Hoffman is at Padres’ camp helping out on the coaching side.
  • Padres RHP Chad Qualls was playing through injury most of last season and now he’s trying to work his way back in San Diego. Great pickup, especially for the price.
  • Highlights from the S.D. Union-Tribune weekly Padres chat: The timing of the Adrian Gonzalez trade looks even better now that Albert Pujols could be a free agent after the season, advice for fans going to Peoria for spring training and how players are paid when they split the season between the minors and the major leagues.
  • Aroldis Chapman got a tattoo with “105.1 MPH” on it. As in the speed of his hardest fastball last year. This may be the surest sign yet that he’s adapting to life in the United States – they use the metric system in Cuba, don’t they? In that case, the tattoo would say “169.1 km/h”. Just doesn’t have the same effect.
  • Aubrey Huff’s rally thong has been retired… for now.
  • The Yankees are interested in Kevin Millwood, but don’t want to overpay. Uh, what? They’re counting on any combination of A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova, Sergio Mitre, Big Fat Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia and they’re worried about overpaying for Kevin Millwood, the definition of a buy-low player? In the words of Albert Pujols, come on, man.
  • Joba Chamberlain has put on some pounds this off-season. If there’s any sport where fat guys can succeed, it’s baseball.
  • Mitch Albom says Miguel Cabrera gets no excuse after his latest trouble. Well, of course he doesn’t, but he obviously needs help and burying him doesn’t improve anything.
  • Cleveland baseball fans are front runners, but I think that’s only half the explanation for the Indians-Browns double standard. When a baseball team is struggling, there are 81 home games, many of which are excruciating. When a football team stinks, there are only eight home games and there’s tailgating. It’s apples and oranges.
  • Carlos Santana is already being considered the franchise. Looks like he’s going to be treated like Victor Martinez, splitting time between catching, first base and DH.
  • Former Padre Gary Sheffield announced yesterday that he’s retiring. He hasn’t played since 2009 and nobody is interested in signing him – is this really an occasion for an announcement, other than to get people to ask the Hall of Fame question? Answer: No. To all of that.
  • Tom Petty. Earth, Wind & Fire. The Cure. John Mellencamp. The Beatles. None of these bands are playing in Fort Wayne this weekend, but local bands are covering them, and that’s good enough for me.

Musical guest… The Talking Heads! (Fair warning: this video is weird. But the music is good.)

Have a great weekend!

DW

Mat being Mat

I’ll preface this by saying I’m a huge Mat Latos fan, so I’m not objective when it comes to stories about him. He played here for a few weeks in 2009. He might be a little rough around the edges, but that’s just him being young. He is a professional butt-kicker on the mound and he has fun doing it.

So when I read a story about Latos signing baseballs “I hate SF,” I don’t think he’s going to suddenly go all Kenny Powers and be a public relations nightmare. We’re so used to athletes either being cliche machines or Chad Johnson publicity hounds that we’re not used to anything in between the extremes. Latos will probably get asked a few questions about it (and booed) when the Padres go to San Francisco for the first time in 2011, but as long as he has fun with it, I can’t imagine it’ll become a big deal.

On the “professional butt-kicker” side, Latos will be treated like any other member of the Padres’ rotation this year. Geoff Young at Ducksnorts examines young pitchers who have gone through a similar workload at a similar age and the effects it’s had. Hint: If you’re going 200+ innings in an MLB season at the age of 22, you’re pretty good.

Random thoughts:

  • Fort Wayne alum RHP Ernesto Frieri has become a big part of the Padres’ bullpen, thanks in large part to a deceptive delivery.
  • The Padres’ team doctor uses all the technology available to keep the players healthy. Including the Wii. Seriously.
  • Today’s edition of Great Moments in Awkwardness is brought to you by Cameron Maybin, Twitter, Panda Express and “Any Given Sunday II: Montezuma’s Revenge,” coming to theaters in October 2014.
  • Notable from the minor-league transactions report: Why are the Red Sox as good (and as deep) as they are? Scouting. They draft well and now they’re finding guys in independent leagues who are good enough to contribute in the big leagues (which is extremely rare). Plus, they have the resources (prospects and money) to fill in the blanks through trades and free agency. All of this – except the money – should be reasons for optimism for Padre fans, since the new front-office regime came from Boston.
  • Tony Gwynn is rebounding from chemotherapy.
  • The Charleston River Dogs continue the trend of minor-league teams giving their customers the option of heart disease with their affordable family entertainment. The River Dogs are famous for their hot dogs – their newest one, wrapped in bacon, is called the Pig on a Stick. One of their other specialty dogs is called the Homewrecker. Which is the second-best name for a food item I’ve ever heard, coming in just behind the Texas Manhandler.
  • The Cardinals’ offer to Albert Pujols didn’t come close to what Albert was looking for. This drama became a possibility when they signed Matt Holliday to a big extension. Now they’re struggling to come up with more cash. Let me ask you this: If you’re a Cardinals fan, would you rather watch Albert Pujols on an otherwise mediocre team or a Pujols-less team that has a chance to win it all? Because it seems like those are the options on the table at this point. This is the Padres-Adrian Gonzalez situation on a larger scale.
  • Meanwhile, Richard Weeks re-signed with the Brewers; 5 years, $50 million. If he stays healthy, it’s a relative bargain for Milwaukee. But that’s a big if.
  • Elsewhere in Wisconsin buzzcut news, Robin Yount is a good dude.
  • I’ve often complained about the decline of creativity in baseball nicknames, and it looks like I’m not the only one who sees it. Did you know Phil Rizzuto called Lou Piniella “The Italian Stallion”? Lou is Cuban!
  • Keith Moreland will take Ron Santo’s seat in the Cubs’ radio booth.
  • Former MWLer LHP Clayton Kershaw will be the Dodgers’ opening day starter.
  • Another former MWLer, Indians C Carlos Santana is one of the few sources of optimism for the Indians.
  • The White Sox are looking for big things from LHP Chris Sale. That’s pretty rough for a guy who was just drafted last year.
  • The once-considered-strong Orioles’ farm system now has two big prospects and not much else.
  • A couple of Mariners pitchers have lots of tattoos.
  • Dave Hutte status updates: “My new car is pretty!” / “Gonna do my side of the guest list for the wedding today. Did you make the cut?”
  • Coming this fall… “Survivor: Toledo, Guest List Edition.”
  • This weather rules. I’m seeing grass poking out from under the snow on the field. First time for that since November, I think.

Musical guest… Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers!

Take care!

DW

How thaw-tful

It’s warm again today. Almost 50 degrees. Which is the exact number of days until opening day at Parkview Field. What a coincidence!

Random thoughts:

  • Fort Wayne alum Wade LeBlanc is going for the fifth spot in the Padres’ rotation.
  • The Padres’ bullpen is different from last year, but still strong.
  • RHP Aaron Harang is trying to revive his career at Petco Park. It’s a prime spot to do it.
  • If A.J. Burnett doesn’t turn it around soon, it seems like he’ll be the Yankees’ version of Oliver Perez: Good stuff but no command and kind of crazy.
  • Fort Wayne alum 2B Matt Antonelli did an interview with FanGraphs, touching on his struggles, his injuries, his blog, moving to the Nationals organization and Buca di Beppo. He’s homeboys with former TinCaps strength guy Rick SantaBarbara. Literally. They grew up in the same neighborhood.
  • Oakland INF prospect Jeremy Barfield took a job driving a limo this off-season. He’s Fort Wayne alum Josh Barfield’s brother and former big-leaguer Jesse Barfield’s son.
  • Opinion: Albert Pujols is the best hitter in the game, but if he gets exactly what he wants in his next contract, it’ll hamstring the organization like Alex Rodriguez’s contract did to the Rangers. And it took a while for the Rangers to dig out of that hole.
  • Barry Bonds sure didn’t pick his entourage very well. Guilty or not, who tapes conversations about their friends?
  • Fort Wayne alum and now-legendary author Dirk Hayhurst puts his job as a baseball player in perspective and has the Ten Commandments for athletes on social media.
  • The winner of the Westminster Dog Show was something called a Scottish deerhound. Which means the black labs got hosed again.
  • The TinCaps are again competing in The Brain Game, which is a quiz bowl/fund raiser. I plan on doing exactly what Watson did last night on Jeopardy: Second round domination.
  • When I promise you something, I deliver (a few days later). Remember when I suggested that John Mayer looked like Jack White and Johnny Depp? Decide for yourself (click to expand):

depp-mayer-white.jpg

Told you.

Musical guest… Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears (again)!

Take care!

DW

It’s spring – deal with it

First of all, have some of this.

Secondly, have some of that:

http://www.facebook.com/v/855054701568

Thirdly, pitchers and catchers reported to spring training yesterday. The world feels like a better place because of it. That is all.

Random thoughts:

  • There’s a ton of new pitchers in Padres’ camp. Which is good. It’s the baseball equivalent of diversifying your stock portfolio… You never know who’s going to have an unexpected good or bad year, so it’s a good way to stabilize things.
  • Why do you need to diversify? In case of injuries. Like this one. Better to have it happen now than in July.
  • This article says Fort Wayne alum Mat Latos will have no innings limitations this year. Which isn’t exactly true; every pitcher in baseball has innings/pitch limitations, otherwise we’d go back to four-man starting rotations and Old Hoss Radbourne throwing complete games every time out. To be more precise, Mat’s pitch/innings limits will be the same as everybody else’s this year.
  • Fort Wayne alum Jake Peavy was part of a new medical procedure. His injury sounds pretty gross the way it’s described.
  • Fort Wayne alum Oliver Perez arrived at Mets camp. This is the second story that suggests that the Mets can’t stand him but stops short of actually saying it.
  • Local native Jarrod Parker is trying to hit the ground running as he recovers from Tommy John surgery at Diamondbacks camp.
  • Ask BA says this year’s draft class is pretty much head and shoulders above last year’s.
  • Several people (including Tony Kornheiser and Bobby Valentine) made this point yesterday: If the Cardinals came to Albert Pujols’ agent in May and gave him exactly what they wanted, do you think they’d turn the Cardinals down? Doubtful. Which makes this whole contract deadline buildup a little… lame.
  • Indians manager Manny Acta shares his lineup-making philosophy: Put the best hitters at the top so they get more at-bats. Makes sense to me.
  • Carlos Santana (the catcher) is good.
  • Marlins monster Mike Stanton put on eight pounds this off-season. “All fat,” he says.
  • Carlos Zambrano is making no promises when it comes to his behavior. All Gatorade machines in the Chicagoland area just shivered in terror.
  • Brian Wilson keeps the ball he threw to end the World Series in a candy jar and Giants fans are going to taunt Dodger fans. If these stories came from anywhere other than San Francisco, they would seem out of place.
  • A Japanese player joining an MLB team makes for a lot of work for the media relations staff. Just ask the Twins.
  • Here are six ways teams mess up in the off-season.
  • Tigers RHP Joel Zumaya is throwing again, which is kind of a miracle, and RHP Jacob Turner is really good. Turner was in the MWL last year and had command of his curveball, which you don’t usually see out of a guy that young who throws that hard.
  • There are some really good young players making league-minimum salary in the National League. And, to a lesser extent, in the American League.
  • Quote of the day from yesterday: “I think we haven’t thrown a single pitch as a group yet. So it’s kind of early to say we’re one of the best rotations in the history of the game.” – Cliff Lee
  • Cal-Berkeley’s baseball program is going to be cut and Title IX (referred to by non-Romans as Title 9) is being partly blamed. A controversial story, for sure.
  • Meanwhile, Cam Newton is taking a pay cut and signing on with Under Armour. Did I say that out loud?
  • This whole “computer playing Jeopardy” thing is bogging the show down. Yesterday they needed an entire half-hour to play what amounted to half a game because they were too busy advertising for IBM. We get it. It took a lot of work to make a computer that can do this. Sometimes it gives the wrong answer. Let’s watch it play.

Musical guest… Jeff Beck and B.B. King!

Take care!

DW

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