Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday

Do you hear it calling?  It’s freedom from the work week, and it’s calling your name.  You’re almost there, champ.  I know it’s been a long, hard week, but the weekend is so close.  All you need to get you through to the final minutes is the latest edition of Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday.

1.  Is there a greater match in all of baseball than Nick Punto and the St. Louis Cardinals?  Learning that the gritty, white middle infielder with the awful on base percentage had signed a contract to play for Tony LaRussa made me forget about all of the disorder in this world and feel as though everything was right for one brief moment.  Hopefully, it’s only a one year deal.  John McDonald’s contract with the Toronto Blue Jays is finished after this season.

2.  Speaking of Nick Punto, sliding head first into first base is never a good idea.  If I was managing a team, and a player of mine did that, I would bench him immediately.  Not only is the player risking injury to himself, he’s also choosing to do something that actually slows him down.  Seriously, by diving toward the bag, you’re decelerating yourself instead of taking advantage of the momentum you’ve built up from your run.  Diving head first into first base is not gritty.  It’s stupid.

3.  Jason Stark has been on Twitter most of the afternoon talking about overrated and underrated players.  It got us talking in the office too.  My boss suggested that certain players can get labelled with an “overrated” tag so often that it actually causes them to become underrated.  I think a good example of this is Derek Jeter. The Yankees shortstop is constantly dismissed as being overrated, but if you look at his numbers, he’s probably the most productive shortstop playing today, never mind that his defense probably isn’t good enough to keep playing that position much longer.  Actually, that element of his game really is actually overrated.

4.  Buster Olney recently listed ten players that he felt were at a career crossroads, and while I agree with all of his selections, it would’ve been pretty hard for me to not include Jose Bautista.  He would have to be considered under a slightly different classification from most of the players in Olney’s list because he’s coming off the most successful season (by far) of his career.  But his value for the rest of his career is going to be directly affected by how he performs this season, which, assuming he doesn’t sign a multi-year deal with the Blue Jays, will be right before his first taste of free agency.

5.  Sticking with the Blue Jays and Bautista, how much does the slugger owe to Paul Beeston for allowing Alex Rios to get picked up off of waivers by the Chicago White Sox for absolutely nothing in return?  I say Beeston because it was widely rumoured, but I don’t think ever confirmed, that when the White Sox claimed Rios off revocable waivers in September of 2009, J.P. Ricciardi wanted to try to work out a deal or else pull him back.  Beeston, as interim president at the time, wouldn’t allow it, and Kenny Williams had to explain to Jerry Reinsdorf why they had surprisingly just acquired a player they’d have to pay $49 million for the next four years.  With Rios still on this team, Bautista never becomes an everyday player and never hits anywhere close to 50 home runs last season.

6.  Beyond The Boxscore put together a graph ranking baseball journalists according to how many stories they broke during the current offseason.  I couldn’t possibly care less about who broke a story in comparison to who offered the best analysis of the deal.  But the rankings did get me to thinking about the term “hotstove.”  Where the [Getting Blanked] did that come from?

A quick internet search revealed that the origin of the phrase is from the late nineteenth Century and originally refered specifically to baseball’s offseason when people would gather around a hot stove to remain warm while talking about the greatest sport on earth.  Another explanation suggests that it’s a direct extension of the question, “What’s cookin’?”

7.  The whole [Getting Blanked] thing is feeling kind of forced, isn’t it?

8.  If there’s one area in baseball that I tend to lack an eagerness toward learning about it’s probably prospecting.  A few moments ago, Andrew Stoeten came into the office and asked me what I knew about Jays prospect Aaron Sanchez.  I said I didn’t know anything.  Apparently, the tall right hander, who was the the 34th pick in last year’s draft, is going to be ranked in Keith Law’s top 100 prospects.

I’m not proud of my ignorance, and I certainly don’t mean to justify it, because it’s something I want to overcome, but I think my hesitancy to get off on prospect porn is rooted in my distrust in those ranking the prospects.  It may just be that I don’t understand it, but there’s so much subjectivity and variance in the rankings, and combined with a seeming lack of predictors for success at the Major League level, I think I’d rather just sit the speculation out and wait until there’s something more concrete to look at.

I’m also immediately turned off by fans becoming passionate about prospects that they’ve never even seen play a game.  Just because a writer at Baseball America collected the opinions of six scouts who all said that Kevin Ahrens is the best player in the Jays system, likely after heavily endorsing Ahrens to the Jays GM prior to the draft, there are fans out there who will attach themselves to that player and imagine him to be far more than he really is.

9.  I’m currently shopping around for a new softball glove.  I’ve been a loyal Mizuno guy my entire baseball life, but I’m open to alternatives.  Any good suggestions?  Also, what do you guys do to break in your glove and further develop its pocket?

10. CNN.com published an article by Jeff Pearlman today in which he confronts people over the telephone who called him bad names on Twitter following his blog post about Jeff Bagwell, steroid suspicion and the Hall of Fame.  It’s about as interesting as stories on CNN.com get.  Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra, who single-handedly analyzes just about everything that happens in baseball so quickly and so concisely that I sometimes wonder if he doesn’t exist in a weird continuum where time is actually slower for him than the average person, uses the article as a springboard to talk about how to properly manage a blog so that you don’t find threats against your life in the comment section.

It’s all good advice, but it’s sort of like apples telling oranges how to be a fruit.  First of all, registration, which Hardball Talk requires for commenting, tends to limit the amount of ridiculous insults being spewed out. Secondly, the format of Hardball Talk, which I like immensely, calls for dozens of posts a day that are usually no more than three or four paragraphs.  The writers aren’t normally baring their souls in a fashion that tends to attract the type of comments that Pearlman received.

Calcaterra’s comments are also somewhat ironic in that his original analysis of Pearlman’s blog post, likely went a long way toward prompting the lesser minds that get confronted in the CNN article to peck away at the spot of blood that the Hardball Talk writer pointed out.

Comments (17)

  1. I got my softball glove at Dicks in Buffalo for like, $60. Its a Jenny Finch signature glove, and is the best goddam glove I’ve ever used. I shit you not.

  2. Hahaha. You don’t feel emasculated using a woman’s glove?

  3. Thanks for keeping us entertained all week, Parkes. Enjoy your weekend.

    I’m not as cynical on prospecting as you are. I realize it’s an inexact science, but I think the “experts” do a pretty good job at talking about the players – discussing their shortcomings, strengths, tools, etc. The rankings are obviously very subjective, and different writers acknowledge that they prefer different types of prospects. That said, I do agree that fans who get overly attached to prospects they’ve only read about in scouting reports drive me nuts.

    Also, I’ve almost got a Masters degree, yet I sort of wish I could find a way to apply it to getting me a job at The Score just so I can be apart of these discussions all day!

  4. reebok gloves i’ve found have come a long way. give it a shot.

  5. You’ve gotta wonder if the Jays even would have re-signed Bautista for 2010 if they’d held onto Rios. $2.4 million or whatever they paid him would be a lot of money for a bench player. Who knows, maybe he would have ended up hitting 54 homers for some other team if that was the case.

  6. 5. With regards to Rios: I think it is very interesting to note how the 2008 began for the Jays and how things proceeded over the course of 08/09. I believe the Jays went into the 2008 as the turning point of the Riccardi/Godfrey era and when the lack of ticket sales and underachieving continued throughout the season it was time to cut salary. The worst case scenario for the Jays would have been Frank Thomas started 2008 on a hot streak and A.J. Burnett had an era of 5. The option for Thomas would have kicked in and Burnett would have not opted out. As the losses continued in 2009 (and his play didn’t help) Rios had to go. Cutting Thomas, A.J. opting out and waiving Rios resulted in $93 million in payroll off the books.

    I mention this mainly as an example of how impressed I am with A.A.’s planning for the Jays and staying the course as building for the future.

    Parkes – ever thought about doing a weekly web chat? The ones during the winter meetings were great.

  7. Mizuno is always the way to go. Stay home.

  8. I check minor league box scores for the Jays affiliates almost as religiously as I check box scores from around the MLB. I love checking up on how Jays prospects are doing, yet I’ve never been to a minor league game in my life(are the Winnipeg Goldeyes a minor league team?).

    Do you hate me!?

  9. JAYS ACQUIRE MIKE NAPOLI!

  10. JToronto:

    It would be nice to see those savings re-invested. That payroll slashing only continued.

  11. Parkes, you gotta go with Easton or Wilson (Wilson’s in particular have notoriously soft leather off the shelf!). And, one of the best ways to soften a glove is to soak it in water then bake it in the oven until it dries. Granted, if the glove is a size too big – which is often the case when dealing with a softball glove – then you might develop a “flopper” glove. This is not a bad thing, just don’t soak the glove too thoroughly. Also, I have found that a touch of olive oil, worked into the pocket, helps.
    Something to keep in mind – I’ve always been a devoted user of D and R gloves but I’m pretty sure they went out of business some time in the late ’90s. Check out craig’s list or ebay for an already broken in mitt. That is, if you don’t mind playing a few innings in another man’s glove.

  12. Mizuno or Rawlings. Break it in by playing with your balls. I just sit in front of the TV and throw a ball in the pocket mindlessly when I’m not playing catch to break it in. Other than that, store it with the ball in the pocket.

  13. I won’t comment on what type of glove to get, but I’ve had success softening leather with a product called Lanolin. It’s used by breastfeeding mothers to “soothe, heal and protect sore and cracked nipples.” It works great on a ball glove though.

  14. #2: I agree…I was benched for that when I was 16. The base doesn’t move like the other ones AND you’re right. Sliding only works when you have to stay on the base, since you can run through first, there’s no reason at all to slide headfirst. Dumb…ass…shit.

    #4: do you have a link? I’d like to check that out.

    #7: Are you not allowed to swear?

  15. I don’t know about Bautista, but we could sure use Alex Rios in CF now that Vernon Wells has apparently been traded.

  16. Sliding headfirst is certainly dangerous and may slow down your momentum, but there is two benefits from doing it. First being that many times i have seen lop-sided safe calls because the umpire respected the effort by the runner. Another benefit of sliding (this mainly applies in the majors with good umpires) is when making a call at first, the umpires watch the bag and listen for the ball to hit the first baseman’s glove. Being used to seeing a foot come over the bag, an unfamiliar hand may potentially throw the call. Not saying it is really worth it, but i have seen it be worthwhile.

    And just a note on prospects. Strasburg is a great example of how prospects carry no value until they have proven anything in the bigs.

  17. softball glove: had my rawlings for 10 years now and still feel awesome. spent about 125 or so on it but a good investment.

    breaking a glove in: mink oil the glove, toss a ball into the glove for a while and tie a softball in the glove, kind of like a roast – this way the top of the pocket and the bottom of the glove is almost sealed- leave it there for a few days and slowly your pocket will form to the ball

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