Right Field

Reveille 7/16/12

Good morning!

Here are several go-to links to make your Monday a bit more bearable:

  • According to the Nats Enquirer blog, Ozzie Guillen had a fit yesterday afternoon over Bryce Harper’s use of pine tar on his bat.

  • Over at Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke, Pat Lackey offers his take on the motivation of Scott Boras, the agent for Pirates’ first-round draft pick Mark Appel, during the ultimately fruitless negotiations:

I don’t think it was about the total dollar value, at least not for Boras. What Boras wanted was a team to establish a precedent in which they use up all their draft money to sign a first round pick. If Appel fell further down the draft to a team that only had a $4 million draft pool and that team managed to save $3.8 million for Appel, I can’t help but wonder if suddenly that would’ve been enough money to get the deal done because it would’ve given Boras the precedent he wanted to use in future years. Maybe it wouldn’t have; maybe the Boras company line that Appel was just worth more money is the absolute truth. By most accounts it’s certainly possible Appel will be one of the top guys in next year’s draft and that he’ll get picked high enough to get the bonus he wanted this year. It’s a calculated risk on his part, but given the fragility of pitchers it’s not necessarily the wrong one.

  • Martin Manley of Sports in Review tackles the perception that Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City is unfriendly to home-run hitters.

  • With barely two weeks before the trade deadline, Sweet Spot’s Christina Kahrl points out that it is gut-check time for the above-.500 Orioles:

In the big picture, it’s easy to say that the Orioles have been lucky. You can use Pythagorean-projected wins and see the Orioles have won six more games than expected, easily the biggest number in the league. And they owe a lot of that to their 10–2 record in extra innings, not to mention their 16–6 record in one-run games. More complicated stats like ESPN’s RPI for baseball move the O’s-verperformance up to seven games; Clay Davenport’s projections has it at five, Baseball Prospectus has it at six.

So the Orioles have a case for being the luckiest team in the league, because whatever your brand of record-parsing, theirs is the biggest number in the league. It’s the sort of result that will get people to say this is not a team to take seriously. Project that forward, and you wind up with a lot of models saying that the Orioles will wind up around 80 or 81 wins — going 34–41 from here on out, yet winding up with their best season in 15 years.

But even though the Orioles’ 13-inning win Saturday might seem improbable — delivered by an even more improbable hero — it matters more than just one ballgame out of 75. That’s because it’s one of the few games left between now and the trade deadline — just 17 games away. The team that’s fielded after the deadline might be very different from the one people say is just lucky to be here.

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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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