Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday

Today is Friday. And while in these parts, Friday normally represents the time of the week where I write down ten seemingly stray observations and try to pass it off as a blog post, there’s an entire world outside of these parts that recognize Friday as something else.

So, in addition to the normal Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday, here are ten random things about Friday:

  1. Friday is rooted in Old English where it was called Frīgedæg, meaning the day of the Anglo-Saxon goddess Frige. It’s always been associated with the planet Venus, and the Norse name for the planet is Friggjarstjarna, or Frigg’s star. In Latin, it was referred to as the Day of Venus or dies Veneris. that’s why we get the French vendredi, Spanish viernes and the Italian venerdi.
  2. The movie Friday made about $30 million world wide. The woman who played Mrs. Parker, you know, the one that was all flirty with Bernie Mac. She was a Barker’s Beauty at the time. Kathleen Bradley was later fired by Bob Barker after testifying against him in a lawsuit that he brought against Holly Hallstrom for defamation of character.
  3. In Iran, Friday is the only “weekend” day that there is.
  4. For some reason, that really awful Friday song fascinates me as a phenomenon. It’s performed in the key of B major at a tempo of 112 beats per minute. According to one of the song’s co-writers: “I wrote the lyrics on a Thursday night going into a Friday. I was writing different songs all night and was like, ‘Wow, I’ve been up a long time and it’s Friday.’ And I was like, wow, it is Friday!” Makes sense.
  5. Traditional Anglican Prayer Books prescribe weekly Friday abstinence for all Anglicans. I was very incidentally Anglican in high school. It’s somewhat ironic in that the origin of the name of the day of the week is so closely associated with Venus, the Roman goddess of beauty, love and sex. Again, the irony also is present with how I spent my Friday nights in high school.
  6. A 1982 science fiction novel titled Friday won the Nebula Award the year it was published for best novel. It’s about an “artificial person” who has to suffer through prejudice from regular people. I haven’t read it and I don’t plan on it either.
  7. 1932, 1960 and 1988 were all leap years that started on a Friday. It will happen again in 2016 and 2044.
  8. In Robinson Crusoe, the character Friday is a native that Crusoe helps escape getting eaten by cannibals. He converts him to Christianity, phew, and teaches him how to speak English. Friday becomes his servant, but ends up dying in the sequel to the original Daniel Defoe novel. If I were casting a movie version of Robinson Crusoe, I’d cast Daniel Day Lewis as Crusoe and Jimmy Smits as Friday, and make it more of a buddy comedy.
  9. Part of the reason that Friday the 13th is thought to be distinct from other day matching dates is that in the Gregorian calendar and its leap year system, a small statistical anomaly causes the 13th day of any month to be slightly more likely to fall on a Friday than any other of the seven days in a week.
  10. The restaurant chain T.G.I. Fridays was founded by Alan Stillman in 1965. With $5,000 of his own money and $5,000 borrowed from his mother, Stillman purchased a bar he often visited, The Good Tavern. He changed the name, put an emphasis on quality food, put in a nice décor and inadvertently created one of the first single’s bar. According to Stillman, “I don’t think there was anything else like it at the time. Before T.G.I. Friday’s, four single 25 year-old girls were not going out on Friday nights, in public and with each other, to have a good time. They went to people’s apartments for cocktail parties or they might go to a real restaurant for a date or for somebody’s birthday, but they weren’t going out with each other to a bar for a casual dinner and drinks because there was no such place for them to go.” Thanks, Mr Stillman. I guess.

A Philadelphia Papelbon

If the reports are true that Jonathan Papelbon and the Philadelphia Phillies have come to terms on a four year deal worth $50 million dollars, then I think I’ll match my reaction to my friend Marc Normandin’s from the Boston Red Sox blog Over The Monster:

Yes, the Philadelphia Phillies give up a first round pick to make the signing, but they will also, in all likelihood, receive a first rounder, plus a supplemental pick, back when they offer Ryan Madson arbitration (assuming he declines and is signed by another team).

I wonder if Ruben Amaro looked at the terms that his front office negotiated with Madson and thought, “Wait a minute. Let’s see how much more than this it will take to sign Papelbon and get a supplemental pick in the meantime.” I understand that type of rationale, but it’s just an awful lot of money to be sending a reliever’s way for an awful long time.

The Greatest Toronto Blue Jays Hat Of All Time Ever

Thirteen seconds in.

The Redemption Of Rod Barajas

There were a couple of double takes when Rod Barajas agreed to a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates for 2012 that would pay the catcher $4 million and include a team option for $3.5 million in 2013. The guy has been through enough on the free agent market to deserve the comfort of guaranteed money and the comfort that comes from gaining sure employment next year in early November.

Five years ago, Barajas was entering his first year of free agency. He negotiated a multiple year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays that would’ve paid slightly less than the $3.2 million he earned in his last year of arbitration with the Texas Rangers. Word on the street was that the MLBPA wasn’t too thrilled with the proposed contract with the Blue Jays and leaned on Barajas to nix the deal and change agents.

He complied, but suitors weren’t exactly lining up to gain his services. Barajas ended up settling on a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies that paid him $2.5 million with a team option for 2008 priced at $5 million. After a disastrous 2007 season in Philadelphia, the option wasn’t picked up, and Barajas was let go.

Despite backing out of an all but signed deal the previous off season, the Blue Jays were once again interested, but this time only for the league minimum. Barajas and Toronto agreed on such a deal (with a small signing bonus) plus a team option for the following year at $2.5 million. Gregg Zaun got injured, and Barajas ended up earning the starting catcher’s role and his option was picked up by the Blue Jays, keeping him with the team for the 2009 season.

At the end of 2009, his contract expired and the Jays offered Barajas arbitration with the hope that he’d decline and the team would gain a compensatory pick when he signed elsewhere. The catcher complied, most likely believing that he could land a multi-year deal, or at the very least, earn more on the open market than the slight raise on $2.5 million he’d assuredly gain through arbitration.

The off season went by and no one came knocking. Days before pitchers and catchers were set to report, Barajas signed a league minimum deal with the New York Mets that was incentive laden. He played well for the team, but was traded to the Dodgers who needed a catcher due to the injuries that were keeping Russell Martin out of the lineup.

Los Angeles signed Barajas last off season for $3.25 million, and again he played pretty much exactly like you’d expect Rod Barajas to play: good defense, little on base ability and the occasional flash of power.

Before signing that contract with the Dodgers, and this one with the Pirates, Barajas and his advisors made almost every wrong turn that a professional baseball player and his representatives can. These mistakes cost the player millions of dollars. I won’t begrudge him for getting a little bit more than he might be objectively worth.

Jamey Carroll Will Be Around For Two More Years

While we’re on the subject of mediocre veterans with ties to the Los Angeles Dodgers signing contracts, it was reported earlier this morning that Jamey Carroll has agreed to terms with a mystery team (now revealed to be the Minnesota Twins) on a two year deal. I like this for two reasons: 1) Jamey Carroll’s name is comprised of two first names that are more often than not associated with females; and 2) Carroll takes the best Spring Training publicity pictures.

This isn’t a one time thing, either. Here he is with Colorado a couple of years earlier:

Managerial Success Predictors

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal posted a story today explaining his unenthusiastic response to inexperienced managers getting hired. Three times he brings up the failures of A.J. Hinch as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. We get it. In that one instance, a manager who had never managed at any level before took charge of a team that didn’t live up to expectations.

I don’t think that this can be used as evidence for every other general manager in baseball who might consider bringing in a manager that hasn’t done so before. The truth is that there’s little that can predict the success or failure of a manager beyond predictions for the talent level of the team he’s taking over.

Having said all of that, I would hire Terry Francona to manage my team over any other available candidate, which I have a feeling, is what Ken Rosenthal wanted to write all along.

Doomed To Repeat

Around this time last year, I wrote:

Watching as the San Francisco Giants spend money to reassemble almost the exact same team that won the World Series last year, I’m curious if Brian Sabean is the only person in baseball who realizes that they had absolutely no business getting as far as they did. Seriously. We all know that nine out of ten times, those 25 players do not win the World Series, right? If the Giants are even going to pretend to try to repeat next season, they’re going to have to add a lot more to that lineup.

If I’m the St. Louis Cardinals, here are the steps that I take to improve my team:

  1. Don’t up the original offer to Albert Pujols.
  2. Name Terry Francona as the team’s next manager.
  3. Non-tender Ryan Theriot and Skip Schumaker.
  4. Don’t bring back Rafael Furcal or Nick Punto.
  5. Don’t even offer Octavio Dotel and Arthur Rhodes arbitration.

In other words, move on. Don’t make the same mistake that the Giants did. Assuming that Pujols eventually accepts the Cardinals’ offer, the team’s payroll will be exactly where it was last year even with the cost cutting measures listed above.

Also, St. Louis should do whatever it can to use spareish parts like Craig Allen, Kyle Lohse and Jon Jay to acquire a better center fielder.

Why Not

In a recent interview Texas Rangers President and CEO Nolan Ryan cast doubt on the notion that the his team would pursue Prince Fielder this off season.

Making a seven-or-eight year deal for Fielder or Pujols is not something our organization is prepared to do. I very much expect Mitch Moreland to be our first baseman next year.

To which I would like to reply, “Why the [Getting Blanked] not?”

Does he not remember the World Series when, in the games that he played, Mitch Moreland batted ninth in the order as the team’s first baseman? Does he not remember that with Josh Hamilton’s injury, the team had absolutely no power from the left side of the plate? Does he not remember how right handed relievers were used to mow through the team’s lineup?

Most importantly, does he not remember that his team just signed a lucrative television deal last year? Unless this is just nonsense that Ryan is spewing in the hopes that it drives down Fielder’s value, it’s the stupidest comment of the winter, dumber than when Kevin Towers said “yes” to signing Willie Bloomquist to a multiple year deal.

Of all the free agents and all the teams in baseball, Prince Fielder and the Texas Rangers seem like the most obvious fit for one another.

The Value Of Free Agents

Over the next few months, as free agents sign contracts and rosters get filled out, we’re going to be referring a lot to win values as a means of explaining the expectations teams will have on their new acquisitions. It’s really important to remember that the WAR value figures that we throw around, which you can read about here, refer to free agent signings only. When we write something like one win above replacement was worth $5 million, it’s only referring to players that are available for purchase.

I have some questions myself about this measurement because I’m not totally certain that WAR is the best thing to use in the instances of free agent signings because it assumes that the free agent is replacing a replacement level player when I’m not so sure that’s the case.

However, $/WAR does give us a decent baseline to use for consideration until we can figure out something better.

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Have A Good Weekend

Earlier today, Tom Tango used the following words from Bill James to emphasize a point about rationalizing the irrational. It’s a wonderful selection that should apply to critical thinking, not just in baseball, but in all walks of life. This is a great reminder to think about all of the language used in the explanations given to you in “explanation” of things on a daily basis.

Baseball men, living from day to day in the clutch of carefully metered chance occurrences, have developed an entire bestiary of imagined causes to tie together and thus make sense of patterns that are in truth entirely accidental. They have an entire vocabulary of completely imaginary concepts used to tie together chance groupings. It includes ‘momentum,’ ‘confidence,’ ‘seeing the ball well,’ ‘slumps,’ ‘guts,’ ‘clutch ability,’ being ‘hot’ and ‘cold,’ ‘not being aggressive’ and my all time favorite the ‘intangibles.’ By such concepts, the baseball man gains a feeling of control over a universe that swings him up and down and tosses him from side to side like a yoyo in a high wind. I think that the randomness of fate applies to all of us as much as baseball men, though it might be exacerbated by the orderliness of their successes and failures.