Here are several links from the past week that will make the second Monday of March a bit more bearable:
- ESPN SweetSpot’s David Schoenfield congratulates the Puerto Rican squad in its WBC elimination-game triumph over the American team while bemoaning the inability of the U.S. squad to pull out a vicotry in the 4-3 affair.
- To say that the Astros, currently at 300-to-1 odds to win the 2013 World Series, are in rebuilding mode is an understatement. Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal shows how the current front office is going where few clubs have gone before:
Trading current wins for future wins isn’t a novel concept. And building through player development is an industrywide mantra. But most teams make at least some effort to ease their pain in the short term. . . .
The Astros are treating this season as a form of spring training—a time to evaluate young players. They’ll have the youngest team in the majors. “Are they going to be part of our core in four or five years?” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said of the kids. “We need to find out. If you take away their job and give it to a veteran, you delay finding it out. It doesn’t push the organization forward.”
Operating with such little regard for the current season is something other baseball executives likely fantasize about. If it weren’t for the annoying chore of appeasing fans in the interim, many teams could build a championship core within five years. But few have the gall to take the Astros’ approach.
“They’ve had, frankly, more nerve than I might have had in going 100 miles per hour in the direction they’re going in,” said Los Angeles Dodgers president Stan Kasten, who once looked into buying a piece of the Astros. Speaking at a conference last week, Kasten added, “They’ve had the fortitude to do it the right way.”
- According to Chris De Luca of the Chicago Sun-Times, White Sox broadcasters Ken “Hawk” Harrelson and Steve Stone have addressed the tension betwen them in the booth and the duo expect a much friendlier on-air rapport in the future.
- Jeff Sullivan, arguably the most talented team blogger in the business, has departed Mariners-centric Lookout Landing:
The bottom line is that it’s time to cut back. . . . I’m not leaving Lookout Landing for another opportunity. I’m just going to do less, and this has absolutely nothing to do with SB Nation or Vox Media. . . . This network is going to continue to grow and it’s going to accomplish spectacular things, and that progress isn’t going to stop just because they’re down a Mariners blogger. I don’t know where I’d be without SB Nation, and I owe those guys more than I can express.
But I started blogging about the Mariners in November 2003, when I was a freshman in college. Since then, almost every day, I’ve written about the Mariners. Since then, every regular season, I’ve stayed up to watch Mariners games and write too much about them too late at night. That’s nine regular seasons of midnight recaps — nine negative run differential regular seasons — spanning the entirety of my adulthood to date. It’s time to see what it’s like to be an adult without that responsibility. It’s time to try to become more of a well-rounded person. (#YOLO) You know what I don’t know about? Lots of things. I’d like to start changing that.
- An increasing number of Yankee fans are feeling uneasy about the 2013 season. Bruce Markusen of the Hardball Times thinks they have good reason to worry, as he sees shades of 1989 when looking over this year’s club. (The Bronx Bombers went from a 85-win team in 1988 to one that won only 74 games.)
- If the Orioles are planing for a return to the postseason, Beyond the Boxscore’s Blake Murphy writes in “One-Run Game Performance Is Unsustainable,” Baltimore had better not rely on another 29–9 record in those nail-biters.
- Gwen Knapp of Sports on Earth profiles the family of former closer Rod Beck, who died at age 38 from a drug overdose in 2007. In response to Beck’s passing, the family founded a non-profit organization to help children of substance abusers.
- Via Ben Lindbergh and Harry Pavlidis of Baseball Prospectus: Erick Aybar offers home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez some choice thoughts on Craig Kimbrel’s 1–1 pitch, which Pitch F/X data estimated at being a good eight inches outside. On the very next pitch, however, Aybar singled home what proved to be the winning run.
That’s it. Have a walk-off week!