Right Field

Reveille 3/10/14

Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your spring-training Monday a bit more bearable:

  • Surgeon Frank Jobe, 88, died last Thursday. His revolutionary ligament-replacement procedure in 1974 prolonged Tommy John’s career and those of close to 500 pitchers since. Valerie J. Nelson of the Los Angeles Times describes the procedure in detail:

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Frank Jobe made what many consider the most extraordinary medical advance in baseball history that September when he invented a transplant procedure that resurrected the pitcher’s arm.

Jobe borrowed the idea of transferring a tendon from one body part to another, which had been used in hand surgery and to reinforce the joints of polio patients but never to repair a joint that endures so much stress — the elbow of a major league pitcher.

He snipped a 6-inch tendon from the pitcher’s good arm and wove it like a figure eight through holes drilled in the elbow of the injured left arm to replace the ligament destroyed by overuse. It worked so well that Pete Rose, then a player with the Cincinnati Reds, quipped: “I know they had to give Tommy John a new arm. But did they have to give him [Sandy] Koufax’s?”

dWAR does actually isolate just the defensive portions of WAR. But you need to remember that it includes the positional adjustment. The fact that Ed McKean has a positive dWAR and Jeff Bagwell has a negative dWAR does not mean that Bagwell was a bad fielder and McKean was good. In their cases, Bagwell was phenomenal at a low value position and McKean was among the worst at the highest value position. In the WAR framework, McKean was still more “valuable” to his team because he filled that very difficult shortstop position.

  • Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com notes the meteoric rise in defensive shifts — the numbers on balls in play jumped 245 percent from 2011 to 2013 — and labels the practice the “new norm.”
  • According to the Associated Press’ Ben Walker, the expanded replay system will not be used for the Diamondbacks–Dodgers games in Sydney that will inaugurate the regular season.

That’s it. 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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