Bill Parker

Recent Posts

It’s surprising to me how little attention the new free agent compensation system has gotten. Marc Normandin has a nice overview of it here, Jeff Sullivan here; essentially, there’s no more Type A and Type B. Instead, any departing free agent will bring back a draft pick (only the one, a sandwich pick) for the team that loses him — and cost an unprotected first-rounder for the team that gets him — as long as his old team is willing to make a “qualifying offer,” a one-year deal worth the average of the top 125 big-league salaries (this year, $13.3 million). It’s really quite different from what we’re used to, and I don’t think anyone really knows how it’s going to affect things yet, but it certainly could change things substantially.

And Yankees’ reliever Rafael Soriano, who is represented by Scott Boras and played a big role in exposing the developing flaws in the old system when he accepted arbitration with the Braves in 2009, may be the first to really put the system to the test. Yesterday, Soriano opted out of the final year of his contract.

This was not a surprise. It’s barely even news. Parkes covered it here over a month ago, saying Soriano had “nothing to lose.” And that’s probably true.

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Having been a Minnesota Twins fan for the last thirty years or so, there’s not much that’s been more frustrating to me than Kyle Lohse. His Twins career doesn’t look like much to be upset over, or to think anything of at all. He had four years that were close enough to average, then started out dreadfully in his fifth and was traded to the Reds for nothing at the deadline. You really had to see him on a start-by-start basis to comprehend the misery Lohse created.

Lohse had really excellent stuff — a wicked slider and a fastball that hit the mid-nineties — and could occasionally use it very well, but was one of those guys we used to say was really two people, the good one and the awful one, and you never knew which would show up. He was also (it seemed from afar) a petulant child; his relationship with the team essentially ended in late 2005 when, in the words of some (perhaps overly) ambitious AP writer, he “dented manager Ron Gardenhire’s office door, apparently with a bat, injured his finger and might have permanently fractured his already strained relationship with the Twins.”

At the time he left in mid-2006, between his attitude and his apparently diminished abilities, I would probably have bet on Lohse being out of big-league baseball for good by the end of 2007. If you’d told me then that come 2012, a 34-year-old Lohse would be one of the ten or so best pitchers in the National League and a key member of a playoff rotation, I probably would have laughed, and maybe called you names (I was meaner then). How on earth did that happen?

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There’s never going to be another 2004 ALCS.

I’m sure a team will come back from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven again — if something’s happened once and conditions haven’t substantially changed in the meantime (so, don’t apply this to Charley Radbourn’s 1884), assume it’ll happen again — but that wasn’t just a comeback from a 3-0 deficit. I feel like the rest of baseball and its fans (me included) have grown so tired of the Red Sox and Yankees being forced down our throats that it’s all become kind of kitschy. Back then, though, it really was something, that sense of utter hopelessness in Red Sox fans when they faced the Yankees (reinforced so recently by that heartbreaking 2003 series). The prospect of winning four in a row, the last two in Yankee Stadium, was just stupidly, hilariously implausible, and they went out and did it. That’s just not going to happen again, not quite.

Tonight, though, after overcoming a hostile crowd, a terribly wild Barry Zito, and Bruce Bochy’s puzzling decision to sit Brandon Belt in favor of Hector Sanchez to beat the Reds 8-3, the Giants have a chance to win their NLDS matchup with a third consecutive victory, each victory coming on the road. Could that be the second-best playoff comeback ever? Read the rest of this entry »

I think that there are two very, very different ideas which we, as a society, sometimes conflate. We believe everyone’s entitled to his or her own opinion, and the freedom to express that opinion in any way he or see sees fit, so long as it doesn’t physically harm anyone else or step on others’ own rights. That’s great, it’s fantastic, some feel it’s worth dying for — it’s one of the founding principles of my country.

On the other hand, it tends to lead to this sense that all ideas are equally valid, and that the fact that someone expresses an opinion means that we need to respect and support that opinion. And that’s…nothing at all, barely even an idea. There’s nothing inherently good about having an opinion, and I can’t imagine why anyone would ever think that, except as a mistaken overextension of the basic freedom of speech principle.

You can see this in things like Jemele Hill’s deeply weird David Tyree profile from last summer. More commonly, and probably more insidiously, you see it in news organizations bending over backward to present an even-handed, “balanced” view of an issue and allow both sides to be heard without judgment, even where, say, one side of the issue holds scientists or other experts in the particular field, supported by objectively verifiable fact, and the other side is just loonies and B-list celebrities.

I think what Buster Olney did on Saturday in regards to the A.L. MVP debate is a mild version of the latter type of this fallacy.

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So the narrative goes like this:

Ichiro Suzuki, despite his standing as one of the greatest, most beloved and longest-lived Mariners in team history (he would have passed Edgar Martinez for the team lead in career plate appearances had he played out the 2012 season, and got 1200 more PA there than Ken Griffey, Jr. did), had worn out his welcome during the team’s recent, especially lean years. He’d grown sullen, selfish, uninterested. In fact, he’d become kind of a jerk.

Then the Yankees came calling; Ichiro was suddenly back in a pennant race, and was revitalized, rediscovering his prime-years self at age 38. Even after a pedestrian 1-for-5 in Sunday’s loss (though he did throw in his 27th stolen base) broke a string of six straight multi-hit games, Ichiro is hitting .331/.347/.481, which falls pretty well in line with the .333/.378/.434 he put up during his stateside prime from 2001-09.

So Ichiro is back with a contender, back in the spotlight, and back to his old self, or so the narrative goes. As Michael Schur/Ken Tremendous put it:

Well, we’re not big fans of narratives around here, and while I love Ichiro and wish him nothing but success (even on the Yankees), this one struck me as quite the stretch.

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Hey, remember Yoenis Cespedes?

Yeah, you remember, from Cuba. He was kind of a big thing for a while there. He had that amazing, overproduced video, where over the course of twenty minutes he murdered baseballs, ran track, worked out and was seen roasting a pig. Essentially every team in the league was rumored to be bidding for his services at one point or another, led by the Yankees and those free-spending Marlins (hey, remember them, too?). Then the Oakland Athletics signed him, which was a pretty huge surprise, but — to we non-A’s fans populating the vast, vast majority of the baseball-loving world — kind of a boring one. It did allow us to pay attention (on tape delay) to his Major League debut, as the A’s went out to Japan to play two real baseball games against the Mariners while everyone else was still in spring training. So we saw him double off of Felix Hernandez in his third big-league PA, and hit a long, key seventh-inning home run in his second game.

He was pretty uninspiring for the month or so after that, though, hitting .240/.313/.400 from April 6 to May 6. He’s been very good since then…but that’s it, no one cares, the lustre is gone. Why is that? Read the rest of this entry »

The baseball season is really, really long. Beautifully long, but really long. Long enough that, come late July or early August, it starts to feel like it’s always been baseball season, and always will be. So then we get to this part of the year, and suddenly there are about twenty games left, and the fact that the season will end eventually (and pretty soon, at that) is a bit hard to get the ol’ head around. And then I realize that as closely and regularly as I follow baseball, and as much as I read about it, there’s been a ton of stuff going on in the game that I just haven’t paid any attention to at all.

That might be especially true this season.  It feels to me as though this year, more than any others I can remember, has revolved around a small handful of individual players. Trout and Pujols in Anaheim; Harper and Strasburg in Washington; Cabrera, Fielder and Verlander in Detroit. Hamilton, Felix, Braun, Cain. Your mileage may vary, and there are probably several I’m forgetting who belong there, but the national stories I’ve seen have tended to focus on one or two of the guys in that group.

Conversely, and naturally, there are plenty of players having great, good or merely interesting seasons who, as far as I can tell, have received essentially no national attention. Here are my favorite five:

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