Curtis Granderson is doing something weird

| August 24, 2011

Watching the Yankees play the A’s, and I’ve been thinking about something that hit me a few days ago: the Yankees are overachieving. Really.

It sounds weird to say that about a team with a $743 billion payroll (give or take), but when you think about it, on paper they really looked like they had some question marks. CC Sabathia is the only starter who you could count on when the season began. Teixeira and Cano are the only everyday players who are really premium players in their prime. (You can quibble whether Swisher is a premium player.)

Then there’s Curtis Granderson, who is having an MVP caliber season. Now, you would think that shouldn’t be a huge surprise because Granderson has always been pretty good, and he’s still not that old.

But he has never been this good. And he’s not that young either. He’s 30.

My theory going in was that it was probably pretty rare for a guy to improve from what Granderson was at age 29 to what he is at age 30.

So, using baseball-reference, I first rounded up all the players who had an OPS+ of 100 to 115 in a full season (502 PAs) at age 29. Granderson had a 109 last year. Here’s that list.

Now, I took all those players and sorted them by OPS+ in their 30-year-old season.

If you look at that, you see that Granderson, whose current OPS+ is 154, and Cal Ripken (162) are the only players to be over 150. Another four players were over 140. Everyone else was under 140.

This is interesting too. Of the 304 players who have had a single 150 or better OPS+ season, only 36 of them had their first in their 30s. Granderson would be the 37th. A large portion of the other guys on that list need asterisks, if you know what I mean. I’m not suggesting anything about Granderson. Just that it’s weird he’s done what he’s done.

All this draft deadline silliness has to go

| August 15, 2011

Today is the deadline for players picked in the draft to sign, or else the teams that picked them lose the rights to negotiate. So there will be a flurry of action right up until the stroke of midnight (Eastern Time), and it will end with just about all of the players signing.

Kinda silly, don’t ya think? It’s obvious that these players aren’t just agreeing to deals all at once by coincidence. They wait till the deadline, because that’s what happens when you have a deadline.

So, why not make the deadline sooner? Why not make it July 15? Heck, why not make it July 1? (OK, the College World Series is barely over by then, so maybe that’s a little too soon.)

If players were signed earlier, they would benefit by getting the extra half-season of work in the minors, which might actually help them develop and get to the majors sooner. As it now, some guys sit on their butts for two months after the draft, and by the time they sign on Aug. 15, their clubs don’t even bother having them report to the minors, so they don’t start their careers for real — instructional league doesn’t count — until the following April.

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Public financing for ballparks

| August 2, 2011

Somehow I got myself entangled in this twitter debate last night — and into this morning — over the merits of publicly financed ballparks. I believe it all started as an offshoot of the vote on the Islanders’ new arena in New York.

I’m going to refrain from any more twitter repartee, because my point is sorta hard to make in 140-character chunks. So I’m going to make it here, then be done with it, because probably most people don’t care.

For starters, I understand that new ballparks are not really profitable for the municipalities that build them. I get that they don’t really generate enough money to the local economy to make up for the cost.

My point is that every dime the government spends doesn’t have to be in the interest of turning a profit. Governments spend their money to serve the people. They do this by building roads and schools and police departments and other things that people need, but they also do this by building things that people don’t need, but want.

Like stadiums.

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Waiting for the trade deadline

| July 22, 2011

I loved my old job. Really absolutely loved it. For 50 weeks out of the year, it was awesome. The other two — these two — it wasn’t. The weeks leading up to the trade deadline seem like baseball heaven to everyone who loves to sit back and watch the rumors and speculation fly across his computer screen. For those people responsible for reporting such rumors, not so much. At least, that’s how it felt to me.

See, no baseball executive worth a damn is going to honestly tell anyone in the media anything of substance, on the record or off the record, about his trade plans. Why would he? So where does all that stuff come from? It comes from third parties. Exec from Team A thinks Teams B and C are working on something. Of course, he doesn’t know. GMs don’t tell each other their plans, either. Even worse, a scout from team A hears that B and C are working on something. Most GMs know their scouts spend too much time in press boxes gabbing with other scouts and media members for them to be trusted with any high-level organizational secrets.

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Let’s play two

| July 15, 2011

Tomorrow is going to be a very interesting day. The A’s are playing a doubleheader — a real, honest-to-goodness, two-games-for-one-ticket doubleheader. And I’m going. With my 8-year-old. We’re going to just sit in the seats and be regular people for at least 18 innings worth of exciting baseball between the A’s and Angels.

We’ll see how it goes.

I used to love doubleheaders when I was a kid. I probably went to six or seven of them — including one twi-night doubleheader in Pittsburgh in which the second game went 18 innings and ended around 3 am. Now? I’m not so sure. I have been to a lot of baseball games over the past 14 years as a baseball writer. Probably close to 2,000 of them. So the sheer experience of watching a game in person is not all that special for me anymore. I still enjoy it. But I also enjoy being at home with my family.

Which brings me to the only reason I’m going to this doubleheader. My son wants to go.

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Not too late for All-Star thoughts

| July 14, 2011

Driving in this morning, heard the radio talking heads still debating issues of the All-Star Game, so I figure that gives me the OK to throw in my two cents, even though the game was two days ago. (Wait, I don’t need any approval — it’s my blog!)

Let’s start with Derek Jeter. If Derek Jeter doesn’t want to show up to the All-Star Game, I’m totally OK with that, mainly because he didn’t deserve to be there in the first place. We wanna rip the fans for picking him, then we wanna rip him for not showing up?

I don’t buy the whole argument that the fans voted for him because they wanted to see him for some sort of tribute. Does anyone really need to see any more of Derek Jeter? It’s not like he’s hiding out in a mountain cabin, just coming down to wave to the people once in a while. We’ve all seen lots of Derek Jeter. I don’t think seeing him play three or four innings of mediocre shortstop and watching him ground out one or two times would really entertain me that much. And I certainly don’t think I’d get anything out of seeing him merely stand on the foul line and tip his cap, as some have suggested he should have done. I’ve seen him do that approximately 57 times, and it looks the same every time.

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Thoughts on the Giants’ draft

| June 17, 2011

Old pal Tom Krasovic, a longtime Padres beat writer and one of my former FanHouse colleagues, has some comments on his blog from scouts about the draft. I’ve clipped out the stuff about the Giants:

“Their draft was sneaky good.”

On first-round pick Joe Panik, a shortstop from St. John’s:

“San Francisco was kind of vanilla in the first round with the St. John’s shortstop.”

“Panik, I thought, was a very under-rated player. Good-body middle infielder that ought to stay at shortstop. Should really hit. Gamer, just doesn’t have big tools. The throwing is average, the running is on the bubble, but he has instincts for the game. Baseball player pick.”

“I was a little suprised the Giants took the St. John’s guy in the first round, because he had labrum surgery as a freshman there. He is supposed to be a good player.”

“Panik is the kind of guy who has to overachieve.”

“Panik — definitely one of the better hitters in the draft. Not real quick twitch. I thought that was an extremely safe pick for the first round. We thought he was a guy who could stick at shortstop but probably would end up at second. He definitely can hit.”

And the scouts also had some comments about the Giants’ second-round pick, Oregon State catcher Andrew Susac…

“Susac, he’s going to be a feast or famine guy. Has pretty big power, has arm strength. Yet to be seen if he’s going to be a good catcher. It depends on if he wants to show up every day or not. Moody kid. Turned down $900,000 out of high school. ”

“Susac, this past year, it was almost a role reversal for him. He was more offense than defense. Has a lot of raw power. Has arm strength. To me, his catching has regressed, not from a physical standpoint, almost a mental standpoint.”