Right Field

Baseball Reveille 2/20/12

Good morning!

Here are several go-to links that will make the day a bit more bearable:

  • Jack Magruder of Fox Sports Arizona says there is no debate as to the better venue in February and March: “If a spring training game is rained out in Arizona, it’s news. If a game is rained out in Florida, it’s Tuesday.”

  • Okay, this story is borderline bizarre: Before playing its inaugural game in 1993, Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post writes, the Marlins retired the number of Carl Barger, the franchise’s first president, who had passed away months earlier. Even though executives eschew uniforms for suits or polo shirts, the No. 5 was retired because Barger was a big fan of Joe DiMaggio. However, the Marlins recently agreed to un-retire No. 5 in order to allow outfielder Logan Morrison to don the number. Apparently, Morrison’s dad, who had died in December 2010, idolized George Brett, who wore No. 5 for the Royals. Needless to say, Barger’s widow is not very happy.

  • Baseball Prospectus’ Larry Granillo looks back at the rise and fall of the “game-winning RBI” statistic.

  • Having trouble understanding Oakland’s decision to sign Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $36 million contract? Dan Lependorf summarizes Billy Beane’s mindset:

Thanks to the rebuilding, the A’s had a bit of cash to throw around. Last year, owner [Lew] Wolff admitted that the team had a hilariously tiny $370,000 profit (not even one minimum salary player!). This was with a payroll that sat at $67 million to open the year. Before the Cespedes signing, the A’s had pared their 2012 payroll down by $10 to $20 million. Beane made a calculated risk in a non-contending year—if Cespedes busts, the A’s lose only money. That money would have either sat around as zeroes in a bank account or been used to pay cheap veterans in a non-contending year. If Cespedes hits well, the A’s will have a valuable player on their hands. It’s all of the upside of a wild card, with very little of the risk.

  • Despite experiencing a September collapse every bit as shameful as that of the Red Sox, the Braves made very few offseason changes. Jason Roberts of Fangraphs explains the club’s thinking.

  • Why is legendary pitching coach Leo Mizzone out of baseball, asks Doug Bird of MLB Center?

  • Newsday’s Ken Davidoff checks in with the Phillies’ new closer Jonathan Papelbon, who has learned not to dwell for very long on past failings.

  • Three weeks after the Phillie Phanatic made a cameo on 30 Rock, Mr. Met appeared in the climax of last Thursday night’s episode. There is no word from NBC on whether the San Diego Chicken will appear on a future news telecast alongside Brian Williams.

Joe D reminds you that spring training has begun!

That’s it, folks! Have a walk-off week!

Jason Epstein is the president of Southfive Strategies, LLC. He was a public-relations consultant for the Turkish embassy in Washington from 2002 to 2007.

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