A conversation about MLB, on the field, off the field.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

From the basement Feb 15

http://www.bizofbaseball.com/ I thought there was nothing new left to read about the DirecTV - MLB EI issue. Well, leave it to Maury Brown. Maury has a link to an article, http://biz.yahoo.com/indie/070209/620_id.html which makes a compelling argument that MLB is removing their EI package from cable in part, to drive fans to their MLB.TV broadcasts. MLB.TV is part of MLBAM. According to this article, MLB is positioning the wildly successful MLBAM for an IPO. Moving viewers from cable to MLB.TV would increase the value of MLBAM. Evidently, late in 05 MLB was ready to proceed with the IPO but backed out because "team owners did not want chests full of cash on their doorsteps as they were in the midst of negotiating a new labor contract. That excuse is no longer valid because MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association reached a new five-year agreement last October." Well, business is about one thing and one thing only, the dirty, rotten, filthy, stinkin money.

Some good reporting on ESPN.com about steroid use amongst players from the Dominican Republic. The spin is that because of the desparate poverty in the country, young players take anything & everything in hopes of furthering their status as prospects. The articles also illustrate something I've read repeatedly over the years, that the men that control these kids are exploiting them big time. I didn't know this, there are roughly 6,000 "independent baseball acadamies" in the DR. I knew of their existence, I am surprised by the large number of them. The acadamies are operated by "buscones", baseball street agents. The buscones have no interest in these kids beyond their earning potential, abuse abounds.

There is a Canadian aspect to the story. A "trainer" on the island, Angel Presinal, is extremely well connected to many of the superstars from the island. "Presinal has been a persona non grata around the majors since an October 2001 incident in which he and former two-time American League MVP Juan Gonzalez, then Presinal's top client, were connected to an unmarked bag discovered by Canadian Border Service agents at the Toronto airport. The bag had come off a Cleveland Indians charter flight and, according to a New York Daily News story last summer, contained anabolic steroids and hypodermic needles." Presinal has
since been banned from all MLB clubhouses.

Apparently pro players from around the island flock to Presinal during the offseason for help with rehabs and conditioning. I can understand that, I'm certain many of these guys have a higher level of trust with a countryman than they do with the team employed trainers. In particular the younger players who haven't yet developed a workable command of English.

On the subject of Presinal's ban from MLB clubhouses, there is a growing trend around MLB to scale back the superstar's posses', which I think ( I am in my basement after all ) always includes a trainer(s). Isn't trainer a euphemism for something else? Let's be polite, supplement supplier? Barry's "trainer", Greg Anderson is in prison.

If you read the CP article yesterday previewing up and coming Canucks in MLB this year, there is an error. Yes, Scott Mathieson is a highly regarded Phillies prospect, but no, he will not play at the big league level this year. Mathieson underwent TJ surgery this offseason, the Phillies hope he can pitch in Short Season. Too bad for us Triple A fans in Ottawa, Mathieson would likely have pitched some of the season here.

Josh Peters from Yahoo had it right in his December 21 article, http://sports.yahoo.com/top/news?slug=jo-balco122106&prov=yhoo&type=lgns Troy Ellerman has confessed to being the source of BALCO Grand Jury leaks. I never took this article seriously. Maybe it's because I'm a Canuck, but this combination of Professional Rodeo and practicing law, well....Rodeo? If your Victor Conte you have to know things don't look good when your legal counsel is also part of PROFESSIONAL RODEO. Am I just a smug, chauvinistic Canadian?

I still don't think we know the whole story, there is some unpleasant history in Professional Rodeo between Ellerman and a PI, Larry McCormack, who tipped off the FBI to Ellerman. Bonds' attorney also doesn't believe that Ellerman is the source of the leaks because he didn't have access to all the information that was leaked. Is Ellerman to BALCO as Lee Harvey Oswald was to JFK? Should I retire my bong?

I've always wondered why a Grand Jury investigation into BALCO. No doubt Conte, Valente, Anderson et. al are guilty as sin. But pro ( and amateur, Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery ) athletes across North America are being supplied with steroids, why BALCO and not one of the others? Grand Jury investigations are not the result of happenstance. I started to go all Oliver Stone when President Bush got up on his soapbox about steroids in a State of the Union address, and there was that self serving show in front of Congress with parents of kids who had died from steroids being trotted out to shame pro athletes. ( Screw off, if your teenager is on steroids have a look at the values you have taught them, not to pro athletes ). But I read this article
http://www.usatoday.com/sports/2007-01-24-ryan-balco-cover_x.htm in January about the lead prosecutor in the BALCO investigation and I think the genesis of the witch hunt is no more complicated than a failed jock looking to get even. Thanks again to Biz of Baseball for linking to the story.

The Cubs are selling ad space on the outfield walls at Wrigley for the first time this season. I understand, I'm a purist but also a realist. Reminds me though of my first and only trip to Chicago a few Novembers ago to see The Bears. ( I won't count being stranded at O'Hare several years ago ). You know you're a baseball geek, because it's November, you've never been to Chicago before and the first place you go is Wrigley Field just to see the exterior and walk around it. Thoroughly enjoyed it, can't wait to go back.

Latest invites to Nationals camp, Dimitri Young & Tony Batista. I don't remember a team with so many veteran NRI's coming to camp, at last count 33. See my post from Feb 03 for comments re. Batista, he has quite a history with the Jays & Expos.

I agree with Matthew Carruth at The Hardball Times, the Carlos Zambrano posturing is not interesting.

On the subject of http://www.hardballtimes.com/ they provide a link to a 2 part interview on gaslampball.com with Paul DePodesta. I have been asking this offseason, where is Paul DePodesta? Well, now I know, reunited with Sandy Alderson in San Diego. As the Gaslamp guys point out, DePodesta is a polarizing figure in MLB.

The DePodesta interview is very good. It's not the SABR numbers fest that you might anticipate, in fact it is primarily about the nuts and bolts of the Padres baseball operation. I was also happy to read DePodesta's opinions about what he refers to as "defensive metrics". He and I are in agreement that the Rob Neyer / Baseball Prospectus community have not answered the question yet on measuring defensive play statistically. "There is a lot more subjectivity with defense. It's also just a lot tougher to measure. The primary reason being, as of right now, we can't measure where every single player starts. So just measuring ultimately the outcome deprives us of the beginning context of the play, which is critically important if you are going to use it as a reliable metric." Yes. However I do agree with the long held SABR opinion that fielding percentage is a worthless stat.

I hope Alderson & DePodesta have success in San Diego, they deserve as much credit ( or derision ) for "Moneyball" as Billy Beane. Beane never met a microphone he didn't like.

I love the political incorrectness of this. From the Philadelphia Daily News a description of Jon Lieber's new truck: "Lieber rumbled into spring training yesterday in his 2-week-old Ford F650 SuperTruck, a customized blue-and-black beast, 9 feet, 2 inches tall and 25,000 pounds, with six doors, 45-inch wheels, seating for seven, a satellite dish and customized leather interior." I assume he hasn't seen An Inconvenient Truth.

In light of the Liberty Media acquisition of the Braves, respected sports business writer John Helyar has a nice article arguing why corporate ownership of teams is bad for their fans. http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?id=2766652

Robert MacLeod of the Globe & Mail tells us that Brandon Leaugue is a major key for the Blue Jays this year. Absolutely, I think it's League or bust for the eighth. I am optimistic, he has big talent.

Former Lynx Termel Sledge is the odds on favorite to be the Padres starting left fielder when the regular season begins.


LynxFan said...

I wonder about Mathieson. According to Larry Shenk at the Baron's Corner, he's "not ready to go full tilt", but he's in camp rehabbing.

Pete Toms said...

Hey Lynx fan, thanks for the remarks.

This from Baseball America Jan 10.

Background: Mathieson has pitched all over the map in the last two years. He worked at the Futures Game, the World Cup and the Arizona Fall League in 2005, then pitched in the World Baseball Classic and jumped from Double-A to the majors in 2006. He was shut down in September with elbow problems that required Tommy John surgery.

Strengths: Mathieson lives off his low-90s fastball, which can climb as high as 97 mph. After working with a curveball for most of his first five seasons, he switched to a slider late in 2005 and worked on it exclusively in the AFL that fall. It quickly has become a plus pitch with good tilt and devastating late break. He maintains his arm speed on his changeup, which has good life down in the zone.

Weaknesses: Though the track record for Tommy John survivors is strong, Mathieson will miss most or all of the 2007 season. Just as quickly as his slider came on during the first half of 2006, he completely lost the feel for it when he was promoted to Philadelphia in mid-July. He started to regain command of the pitch after being reassigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The Future: If all goes well, Mathieson will return to the mound during the summer at the Phillies' new short-season Williamsport affiliate. He has the work ethic to bounce back strongly and quickly. While he has the stuff to start, it gives him the potential to close games as well.

Anyway that's all I know, I will send Baseball Canada an email and see what they think.


A Baseball Geek

LynxFan said...

I gotta subscribe to BA! Thanks for the update post.

LynxFan said...

From Phillyburbs.com:

" Recovering from Aug. 29 Tommy John surgery, Mathieson began playing catch on Feb. 5. “My arm feels great,” said Mathieson, who hopes to be pitching again by July."

I would guess he would start with the Crosscutters or in Lakewood.