The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Rock: the Vote

Safely ensconced in our new Brooklyn apartment, I took a lengthy timeout or three from burrowing away at my winter work to plug the Hall of Fame candidacy of Tim Raines. The BBWAA ballot was announced on Monday, leading me to pen not one but two Baseball Prospectus Unfiltered posts as well as my debut, in which I get to introduce JAWS to Sports Illustrated's audience. No, I haven't actually been hired by SI, no, this won't be in the magazine -- it's via the syndication agreement between BP and SI, and no, they haven't parked my solid gold Rolls Royce out front... yet (it's still at Bill Conlin's pad). But I do think they intend to follow up by promoting the rest of this year's JAWS series, which will start next week over at BP. Fun stuff.

OK, back to grinding out player comments...

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Friday, November 16, 2007


Strange Bedfellows in this News Cycle

So much going on and so little time for me to write. After more than seven months of waiting, my wife and I finally closed on our Brooklyn apartment and will be moving this weekend, thus ending my nearly 13 years in the East Village. The timing isn't exactly great, coming in the middle of my winter deadlines, but with the closing having been postponed twice on the sponsor's part and the situation exacerbated by the collapse of the mortgage market, the past two months have been protracted agony as I watched the move date creep into this territory. At one point I expected to be watching the postseason -- or at least the World Series -- on a new flat-screen TV, but... wait 'til next year, I guess.

Following the closing, my wife and I went for a celebratory drink even though it was only about 3:30 in the afternoon -- how often does one get to buy a home? Afterwards, still a bit buzzed from the 20-ounce beers, we made a trip to Staples to pick up more boxes. We were schlepping them along 34th Street looking for a cab when my cell phone rang. It was the producer from Sports Radio 1470 in Toledo (WLQR), my weekly spot with Norm & Matt; I had forgotten to tell the show I'd be out this week. Thinking fast, my wife and I ducked into some random foyer on 34th Street so I could take the call, and they hit me with the news of Alex Rodriguez's end-around.

My first reaction was that Rodriguez's decision to engage the Yankees without Scott Boras was in fact a Boras ploy, designed to let the superstar play good cop to the nefarious agent's bad cop in the hopes of winning the Yankees and the fans back. Otherwise, if Rodriguez was so disgruntled with the job Boras had done, why not fire him and prevent him from getting his commission on whatever bajillion dollar contract was coming his way?

Just over 24 hours later, the framework of a deal is in place for A-Rod to return to the team he supposedly scorned, calling for $275 million over 10 years, with incentives that could make it far more valuable if he does in fact chase the all-time home run record. Rodriguez still gets a record-breaking contract, but he falls far short of the $350 million Boras told the Yankees would be the starting point of any pre-opt-out negotiations. He falls short of the annual salaries he would have made via the old contract's escalator provisions in 2009 and 2010, or via the eight-year, $230 million offer that the Yankees had planned as their opening gambit. It's understood that somewhere in the new figures is a remedy for the $21 million subsidy from the Texas Rangers that was lost on the contract's termination, a loss that had led Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner brothers to take a hard-line stance on not negotiating with Rodriguez after the opt-out.

For some reason I'm reminded of a Simpsons episode where Homer has to ask for his job back at the nuclear plant. Instead of being allowed to walk into Monty Burns' office through the door marked "Applicants," he's forced to crawl through a doggie door marked "Supplicants." "A-Rod Crawls Back," read the cover of Thursday's New York Post, and it's clear that whether or not this is a Boras ploy, Rodriguez has been forced to swallow some pride in order to rekindle his pinstriped career.

In any event, despite the awkwardness of the reconciliation, this is a solid win for the Yankees, who were faced with a very difficult task of replacing Rodriguez's monstrous production amid a poor free agent crop and a trade market where Miguel Cabrera could only be had for their brightest pitching prospects. The Yankees lost no face by accepting A-Rod's olive branch because of the superstar's acknowledgment that the lost subsidy would be factored into his new deal.

It's less clear whether A-Rod himself won. While it's tough to begrudge him the opportunity to exercise his contractual right, particularly in light of the rocky ride he had endured over the past three years, the timing of the announcement of his opt-out was horseshit, making him appear to try to upstage the World Series. That may have been a Boras move, but if it went against Rodriguez's tastes that only raises the question of who's wearing the pants in this relationship.

Furthermore, Rodriguez's action almost certainly burned bridges with a segment of Yankees fans. Yes, it may have been the bandwagoneers who were happy to see him stay when he was bopping 54 homers and looking like the MVP, but another underwhelming postseason for him and for the team thinned that herd while frustrating just about everyone who follows the Yankees. For all of the pressure he put on himself in the previous three years, his Hamlet act has cranked the knob to 11 for the coming years. Until he chases his October demons away, he will be under an even hotter spotlight than before.

Speaking as a Yankee fan, I'm glad his production is back, and I certainly do enjoy watching Rodriguez play, at least from April through September. But I'll be hard-pressed to muster the heights of enthusiasm that I've felt towards him before on those days when I knew I was watching Alex Rodriguez, Best Player on Earth. Things may be chilly for awhile. In addition to winning a championship, he's gonna have to bake me and every other Yankee fan one big chocolate apology cake apiece before bygones are bygones.

What's also clear is that whoever won, Boras lost, even if he does get to take home five percent of the $275 million deal. Many, including Fox's Ken Rosenthal (who gets the scoops while Peter Gammons plays the house organ) surmised that a back-channel deal had already been worked out prior to the opt-out. But Boras' timing angered those inside the game, and the mere threat of his outrageous demands quickly sent teams into retreat, or at least into the mode of reassessing their offseason priorities. Among the half-dozen or so teams equipped to make A-Rod an offer, all but the Angels and Dodgers had asserted at one point or another that it might be beyond their capability. Boras overreached, and while the new contract -- incentives regarding his potential chase of the all-time home run record aside -- sets a record by being $23 million more than the 10-year, $252 million deal Rodriguez signed for the 2001 season, the increase doesn't even match the rate of inflation. That's all ya got, Scott? Pfft. In the words of Nelson Muntz, "Ha-ha!"

Meanwhile, the man Rodriguez may someday be chasing for the all-time home run lead, Barry Bonds, was indicted on four counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice in relation to his BALCO testimony. Again, I found out about it from somebody wanting to put my instant opinion on the radio; Fox News Radio interviewed me for some national soundbites about a half-hour after the story broke on Thursday, and I'm in the midst of nine affiliate hits on Friday morning as I post this.

Even as a decided non-fan of Barry Bonds, I'd say that the announcement feels anticlimactic. Bonds has the home run record, tainted though it may be, and as a 43-year-old free agent, he's already low on most teams' shopping lists. Bud Selig can't suspend him without a conviction lest he set off a fight with the Players' Association, but the owners and GMs now have one more excuse to shun Bonds like a leper in a nudist colony. That's not to say that some team won't sign him, but if you thought the market for A-Rod was tepid, the one for surly, indicted 43-year-olds with multiple knee surgeries is sure to be even moreso.

The announcement feels anticlimactic mainly because I doubt the charges can stick. From the old saw about how a good prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, the four-year timespan in which this indictment was put together, to the testimony leak, to the lack of a Bonds positive test for anabolic steroids under the auspices of Major League Baseball (though the indictment says the evidence includes a positive test, it was one apparently administered by BALCO, lacking a clear chain of custody), this may well wind up being a circus designed to do little more than hassle Bonds and prevent him from getting another job rather than actually generating a conviction. If they couldn't nail O.J. Simpson...

Which isn't to say that I think Bonds is innocent, not by any stretch of the imagination. As I wrote on the occasion of his 756th home run:
Even absent a positive test, the mountain of evidence that Bonds used performance enhancing drugs is enough to convince me that his accomplishment is tainted. We'll never know the extent to which Bonds was aided, but the fact that his historically unprecedented late-career surge matches up with the well-documented timeline of his alleged usage is enough for me. However, Bonds certainly wasn't the only player using during this sordid era, and the extent to which the drugs helped him achieve his record will forever remain uncertain. Furthermore, Major League Baseball's failure to address in any meaningful way the pervasiveness of the steroid problem made them complicit in Bonds' use...

This much we know: the three players who topped Roger Maris' long-standing season record of 61 homers have varying degrees of evidence suggesting they had help in the matter, and it's not unreasonable to eye their latter-day accomplishments with some degree of suspicion so long as that evidence remains. I'm not advocating an asterisk in the record books or the expungement of any stats; if the fabric of baseball history can withstand the variable impacts of the spitballers, scuffers, bat-corkers, sign-stealers, and greenie-poppers -- to say nothing of the Black Sox and Pete Rose, rats of an entirely different color -- it can withstand this. That doesn't mean we have to worship the record or the man with the prickly persona who achieved it, nor does it diminish the accomplishments of the men who preceded him in holding that record.
Will a Barry Bonds conviction heal the wounds we feel from the cynical chase and toppling of Hank Aaron's home run record? Suffice it to say that I'd be surprised if we ever get to find out.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007


Wannabe No More

Carlos Gomez, the indy-league sidearmer and sabermetric enthusiast who I interviewed for Baseball Prospectus back in 2004 has hit the big time. According to the Arizona Republic, Gomez has been hired by the Diamondbacks as a major league scout.

Gomez didn't exactly take a tried and true route to the majors. After graduating from Purdue with an engineering degree but an inauspicious college career -- he struggled with injuries and was hampered by "Ankielitis" -- Gomez began experimenting with a sidearm delivery, and he took to it well enough to catch on with the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League in 2002. From there he moved up to the Northeast League, where he enjoyed a solid 2003 but an injury-riddled 2004.

Gomez came to my attention in the winter before the latter season, when he began posting on Baseball Primer under the handle of Chad Bradford Wannabe; he was searching for a way to gauge the level of talent in the Frontier League, something BP's Equivalent Average stat is well suited to do. We struck up a correspondence and I interviewed him in April, noting how "intellectual curiosity has spurred him to incorporate objective research into his pitching approach. His is the story of Moneyball writ small, one player searching for any advantage he can get in order to rise through the professional ranks." From our interview:
BP: You posted a bit of your own research on first-pitch strikes after a teammate told you of a study done by pitching coach Dave Duncan which said that only 8% of first-pitch strikes result in base hits. What did you learn from that study?

Gomez: The main conclusion I drew from that was, "Go after the hitters." Throw that first-pitch strike because I don't get any better odds anywhere else. I'm going out there this year and going to attack the middle of the plate. I've still got to try to throw the ball down so they beat it into the ground. But when I look at those stats, I really don't have much to fear. I don't have to hit a corner to try to make an out is what I drew from that.

BP: You said in that thread the combination of your arm angle and the fact that most hitters want to see at least one pitch before they even bother swinging, if you're throwing a strike you're going to come out ahead a lot of the time.

Gomez: I also looked at (results) after 0-1, and I compared a few sidearmers, Mike Koplove, Bradford, and Kim, and after 0-1 versus after 1-0 is a huge difference. There's no sense for me for me to nibble around at the corners. It makes more sense for me to throw the ball right down the middle of the plate and hope they either take it, foul it off, or put it in play. I want them to put it in play most of the time.

Sometimes I want to throw the ball down the middle and it doesn't happen to go there. But I always knew that because of my arm angle and my funk, that I wanted guys to swing because I'd always think that their mechanics would break down, that their shoulder would fly open or something. My ball sinks pretty well, plus I don't throw very hard, which is another adjustment they have to make. It was always kind of intuitive to me that I wanted guys to swing as early as possible and the research is there to prove it.

Brian Schmack is the one who actually brought it up to me, who really hammered it into my brain. I took it out to the mound for my third and last outing in the Puerto Rican League, and he was amazingly right. I tried to throw the ball in the middle of the plate and down. I faced nine hitters and threw seven first-pitch strikes, and even when I missed, I didn't miss by much, and when I missed a little bit either way it was still a strike. I felt so in control, I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe I was so wrong all these years.
Gomez's playing career ended in 2005, but he remained an active part of the online baseball community via the popular "Bullpen Mechanics" series on Baseball Think Factory. In those articles, he'd analyze a pitcher's delivery, illustrating it with short video clips, often in a side-by-side comparison to highlight something he was doing wrong or to compare the evolution of his delivery (he did a similar piece for The Hardball Times devoted to Philip Hughes that Yankee fans may have seen earlier this summer). In addition to being entertaining and informative, Gomez wrote with the goal of enticing some team to hire him as a scout based on his acumen. Finally, it's paid off:
When he started to actively seek out employment in baseball, he sent his resume and links to his online work to just about every baseball front office. He got a quick reply from an intrigued Jerry Dipoto, the Diamondbacks’ director of player personnel.

“On a weekly basis, a ton of resumes will come across my desk,” Dipoto said. “His was unique. His resume at least threw up the antennas to say this guy is pretty interesting.”

Dipoto and Gomez had several long conversations in recent weeks, and Dipoto gave him assignments, asking him to break down players from watching the World Series on television.

It led to Dipoto feeling comfortable giving Gomez a position as a major league scout, somewhat unusual for someone with no prior experience. Most begin as amateur scouts, patrolling an area for draft coverage. Gomez will be filing reports on major leaguers and high-level minor leaguers as well as taking trips to Latin America. (A native of Puerto Rico, Gomez is bilingual.)

“I’m convinced this guy will do a very good job for us,” Dipoto said. “What I’ve gathered through the conversations I’ve had, he does have a passion. He sees things. To evaluate a player you have to break him down and Carlos is already way ahead of the game in breaking him down to the root of what he does.”
It's nice to see Gomez catch a break, and to see his already fascinating and unorthodox story continue to evolve. Just as he opened his mind to new ways in which he could improve his pitching, so too did a team open its mind to a new voice that could add to their scouting staff. Even if it is the D-Bags, that's pretty cool.

Best of luck, Carlos!


Friday, November 02, 2007


Torre in Blue, A-Rod Too?

With Joe Torre now officially in as Dodger manager, many have asked me what I think about Torre and Alex Rodriguez vis-à-vis the Dodgers. Here are a few selected snippets and parting thoughts for the week:

On the impact of Torre to the Dodgers: Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts put together an in-depth look at Torre's tendencies as Yankee manager, calling upon Bronx Banter's Cliff Corcoran and BP/YES man Steven Goldman, who put together a Bill James-style Manager in a Box feature upon Torre's departure, for some insight. I weighed in via the comments, and Weisman wound up appending what I had to say to the original post:
Having watched Torre at close range for 12 years from my New York vantage, I have fewer reservations regarding his taking over the Dodgers than I think most of you do here. Yes, he has his foibles, but he's also shown himself to be more adaptable than commonly given credit for. He handled the in-season integration of Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera into the lineups pretty well, and particularly this past year, showed that he wasn't afraid to bench expensive, gimpy and ineffective veterans like Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi. Yet he was also able to quell any major clubhouse dissent over those moves, which is pretty impressive.

A few other things to add:

• He's done an outstanding job managing Jorge Posada's heavy workload, keeping him effective all year long - there's virtually no difference between Posada's first- and second-half splits careerwise, and his September numbers have historically been strong. Granted, he won't have the DH to help Russell Martin out in the same way, but Torre was a catcher, and he understood the workload.

• Right now the Dodgers already have a deeper bullpen than the Yankees have had the last few years. In [Jonathan] Broxton, [Scott] Proctor and [Joe] Beimel, the Dodgers have three capable setup men, and that's not to say they won't be even deeper. Torre hasn't had more than one good righty setup at any one time in awhile, and his recent lefty relievers have primarily been LOOGYs or mop-and-bucket guys. Beimel is more of a Mike Stanton type, capable of pitching full innings without [his manager] worrying unduly about platoon matchups.

• Anyone pointing to Torre's lack of success in his pre-NYY days would do well to remind themselves that this Dodger club has far more to work with than some of those teams did, particularly in the rotation.

• Whatever the expectations are in L.A. with the ink still drying on Torre's contract, they're lower and more reasonable than they were in New York. Torre will do a good job of keeping the pressure off his guys by deflecting it towards himself, and this is a guy who can stand more heat than just about any manager I've ever seen. He'll demand accountability for the kind of BS that's gone on around problem children like Jeff Kent over the past few years, and I think he'll find his way through this mix of veterans and youngsters better than Little did last year.
Cliff did a particularly nice job of elaborating on the vets-versus-rookies topic:
Looking at the 2008 Dodgers," Corcoran says, "if the team decides to start the season with [Andre] Ethier and [Matt] Kemp in the outfield corners and [James] Loney and [Andy] LaRoche at the infield corners, Torre will give the youngsters a long rope. A player has to be really bad for a really long time to lose a starting job he's been given by Joe Torre. The challenge for young players, however, is getting that starting job in the first place.

"If Ned Colletti brings in another 'proven veteran' outfielder, or if Nomar [Garciaparra] has a blazing hot spring training and reclaims the third-base job, you're unlikely to see a change in the lineup before June, if at all, no matter how poorly the vets play.

"The one exception there, particularly regarding Nomar, is injury. Torre is not above allowing a young player to Wally Pipp a vet. If the team and the youngster excel while the vet is on the DL, that vet could come back to a spot on the bench, as [Jason] Giambi and Doug Mientkiewicz did this year. Heck, even Johnny Damon lost his center-field job to injury this year, and he didn't spend a day on the DL. Of course it took until June for that to happen."
On the possibility of Rodriguez to the Dodgers: I don't think the Torre hiring increases the likelihood that Rodriguez will sign with LA. For all of Rodriguez's claims that he loved playing for Torre, he had to feel rather betrayed by his manager throwing him to the wolves in that Tom Verducci Sports Illustrated article in Septmeber 2006, and in Torre batting him eighth late in the Division Series against the Tigers.

But that's really only a small part of the issue regarding the A-Rod-to-the-Dodgers scenario. The biggest part is, of course, money. Dodger owner Frank McCourt is notoriously underfinanced, making it unlikely that he could absorb the operating losses stemming from adding A-Rod's $30+ million salary to a payroll that was $108 million on Opening Day last year. Though those annual losses could be countered by an increase in franchise value via increased attendance (even atop a Dodger record 3,857,036 this year), media revenues and other ancillary streams, McCourt's reputation for short-sightedness -- just look at the frenetic way he's handled his GMs and managers since taking the reins in early 2004 -- makes this scenario unlikely.

Furthermore, GM Ned Colletti's relationship with Scott Boras grew rather acrimonious last winter after Boras 1) engineered the opt-out of J.D. Drew; 2) reacted harshly to the team's refusal to pick up Eric Gagne's $12 million option for 2007 after he pitched just 16 games for them in 2005-2006; and 3) steered Greg Maddux away from the Dodgers and to the NL West rival Padres as payback. While Colletti is reportedly on thin ice in LA, the indications are that he's being given the opportunity to turn things around, but I doubt he'll wind up in any situation where he's negotiating with Boras.

Which is a good thing, since I'd have a hard time stomaching going through another go-round with Rodriguez. As much as I admire his talent, I'm tired of the baggage that comes with it, and thoroughly turned off by the way his departure from the Yankees has played out. It all plays into what's been said all along by jealous scribes, that the guy is a head case, insecure and desperate to be liked, putting a counterproductive amount of pressure on himself to succeed, hopelessly out of touch with reality, insulated by Boras and the bubble that only his kind of wealth can produce. Thanks, I'll pass. As fun as it was to watch him here in New York when he was at his best -- and I attended both his three-homer game and the one where he went yard twice in one inning -- and as much as the Dodgers could use his big bat in the middle of the lineup, the circumstances make it very easy for me to wish he'd just take his weak-willed, insecure ass elsewhere.

On Rodriguez's other options: with the report that Boras and Rodriguez were seeking a $350 million package from the Yankees, it seems pretty clear why Boras is trying so desperately to remind the Yanks that they haven't closed the door on the possibility of A-Rod's return: without him, the market lacks momentum, not to mention an obvious leading contender for his services. Giants GM Brian Sabean doesn't sound optimistic about his club's chances. Boston's Leaky Larry Lucchino says Mike Lowell is his top priority (the Yankees are said to be very interested in him as well), which puts A-Rod further down the list; I think he's an impossible sell to their fan base. The Marlins, of all teams, appear interested in the Miami native, but if Rodriguez was worried about the instability atop the Yankees he can't be enamored of the Fish ownership situation and threats to relocate unless they can extort the local taxpayers. The Angels might be interested but find themselves in a similar position to the Dodgers financially; Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times runs the numbers and illustrates how stretched even Arte Moreno's finances would be. The Mets might be capable of making the biggest splash of all, but with David Wright and Jose Reyes locked in on the left side of the infield, somebody would need to switch positions; the Mets have asked Wright to zip it on that score.

But one thing is clear: teams aren't exactly stampeding to get in line to talk to Boras. And every time the agent opens his mouth, he insults someone's intelligence and perhaps further isolates his client.

This is going to remain fun to watch for awhile.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007


Getting PADE and Other Notes

Just clearing my clipboard:

• This week's installment of Prospectus Hit and Run just went up. In it, I note that the 2007 Red Sox are in very fine company in terms of post division-play teams that went on to win the World Series after conclusively proving themselves as the best teams of the majors in terms of run differential, Pythagorean record, and/or Hit List ranking -- and went went on to win the World Series. It's a short list, just nine or 10 teams long (depending on which of those criteria you use) and it includes some true powerhouses: 1970 Orioles, 1975 Reds, 1978 Yankees, 1981 Dodgers, 1984 Tigers, 1986 Mets, 1989 A's, 1998 Yankees, 2002 Angels, and now the 2007 Red Sox. Not too shabby.

Elsewhere in the piece, I revisit James Click's work on Park-Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, providing 2007 numbers which were retro-engineered by our data department, since Click himself now has better things to do as the Coordinator of Baseball Operations for the Devil Rays. The Defensive Efficiency metric, a Bill James creation, tells you how often a team converts a ball in play into an out; it's the flip side of the Batting Average on Balls In Play coin, though it also incorporates the number of times an opposing team Reaches On Error. Like everything else in baseball, it's subject to distortions by park, since some fields are easier to defend than others based on symmetry, fence distances, the amount of foul ground, and the playing surface itself. And like just about everything else in baseball which we can measure, it can be adjusted to remove some of that distorting effect.

Factoring in the park adjustments and cutting through a lot of interesting details which shall remain behind the subscription wall, here are the revised Defensive Efficiencies based on a formula where DE = [1 - (H + ROE - HR) / (PA - BB - SO - HBP - HR)]:
Team    ADE
BOS .7093
COL .7083
CHN .7052
SFN .6983
NYN .6976
ARI .6954
TOR .6949
ATL .6948
DET .6928
SDN .6898
PHI .6882
NYA .6874
CLE .6873
WAS .6870
SLN .6845
OAK .6840
KCA .6840
BAL .6826
CHA .6823
LAN .6823
HOU .6794
MIN .6776
ANA .6765
TEX .6751
CIN .6726
PIT .6720
SEA .6666
MIL .6636
FLO .6607
TBA .6484
Note that the two leaders were the teams that squared off in the World Series, that most of the top 10 were contenders, and that the Brewers are very conspicuously near the bottom, having watched their NL Central hopes slip away one ground ball through their porous defense at a time.

One other thing to note regarding this is that Click's finding that teams consistently play better defense at home than on the road (the park factors average out to 1.0089, in line with recent data) jibes very well with my Chien-Ming Wang-related finding regarding the homefield BABIP advantage enjoyed by pitchers.

• Alex Belth and the Bronx Banter community have a provocative discussion going regarding Josh Levin's Slate critique of Sports Illustrated magazine. Belth himself is a guy who works particularly well in longer-form pieces -- he's got a very readable book about Curt Flood, Stepping Out under his belt -- and while he's broken through on, he can't buy a page in the magazine because they've moved away from the kind of literate, long-form pieces that used to be the magazine's hallmark. The web, blogs, the instant news cycle, corporate takeovers of print media... it's all in the discussion.

• Chatting with Neil deMause on IM last night about Joe Torre reminded me of a classic Peanuts strip, one that I clipped out of the newspaper back in December 1999, less than a week before Charles Schultz's retirement and about six weeks before his death. The next summer, I found out amid a Baseball Hall of Fame retrospective on Schultz that it was his last baseball-themed strip ever. In light of the news about Torre possibly taking the Dodger job, it seems fitting to run this:

I'm walking on eggshells until Torre's deal with the Dodgers is done. Having seen the way Ned "Stupid Flanders" Colletti operates, I'm not taking anything for granted.

• Speaking of Stupid Flanders, Nate Silver had some scathing words to say about the Dodger GM:
There is no bigger disconnect in baseball between the Dodgers’ ability to develop talent and the front office’s lack of appreciation for that talent. Matt Kemp is someone that they should be thrilled to have in their lineup for the next six years. Andy LaRoche’s time is now. So is Chin-Lung Hu’s, and the Dodgers should consider trading Rafael Furcal to make way for him.

Instead, all rumors are that Ned Colletti’s compass is pointed in the opposite direction. What I envision happening is something like the following: Kemp or LaRoche are included in a deal for a premium starting pitcher. And then -– guess what -– you do have a hole at left or third, and you do need to work the free agent market to repair it. But it isn’t a hole that existed before; it’s one that you’ve created yourself. The behavior is literally almost pathological, a kind of Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome: Colletti seems determined to make the Dodgers sick so that he can make them well again. Playing the kids-–these talented kids from your farm system that embody everything that used to be called the Dodger Way -– well, that’s just too darn obvious.
The Dodger front office is a drunk with a loaded gun and bad aim. I wouldn't weep a bit if Colletti is the next domino to fall after he wraps up the Torre contract.

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