Happy New Year, everybody. I'm trying to type quietly in case you're too hung over.
Let's start 2015 off simple and start it off right -- by reading encouraging words about Jose Abreu courtesy of Todd Steverson:
"He's got a lot of self-confidence -- obviously he doesn't speak a whole lot of English -- but you can see it exude out of his body and through his eyes," hitting coach Todd Steverson said. "And as you watch through the course of the game taking his at-bats and when he comes back after potentially getting out, you can see that his want factor is very high."
Besides the Year of the Sheep, here's hoping 2015 is the Year of Professionally Confident Body Language.
If you care how the sausage is made: So it seems like there's a critical flaw with FanGraphs' WAR calculation, in that it's based off pitchers' FIP, but uses runs to adjust for park factors. That's a big problem, because while runs take into account all events, FIP only accounts for 30 percent of plate appearances (homers, walks and strikeouts), so a reworking of the formula is in order.
If you just want to know the point: Along with several other teams, FanGraphs' pitcher WAR has inadvertently undervalued White Sox pitchers because the ingredients in FIP don't quite describe just how good of a hitters' park U.S. Cellular Field is. It's these kind of vagaries that make me a much bigger fan of Baseball-Reference.com's WAR for pitchers. It's not a predictive stat, so I'm less interested in rewarding/punishing pitchers for the amount of runs that were supposed to score.
- Tigers look to keep window of contention open - tigers.com
- Nine possible spots for Max Scherzer: Star FA without a team, or a rumor - CBSSports.com
The last time a marquee Scott Boras free agent headed into January without even so much as a standout suitor, he ended up signing with the Tigers for nine years and $214 million. Until a different team emerges as a detectable favorite, I'm keeping Scherzer on presumptive 2015 Detroit roster in my head, due to the tendency MLB.com's Jason Beck describes:
Tigers officials have said repeatedly that they haven't spoken with Scherzer's agent, Scott Boras, about a return, and that their best shot to re-sign him was last spring before he hit free agency. And yet, none of the parties involved have ruled out a reunion. They know better after all the deals Boras has done with owner Mike Ilitch and all the times Ilitch has rewarded players who win for him.
It's a mystery, right down to whether Ilitch will have the chance to match a final offer from another club (Boras says he won't, but an industry source with knowledge of the Tigers' plans suggests he will). If another team wants Scherzer bad enough, it's hard to see the Tigers getting in the way. If, on the other hand, Scherzer lingers on the market without a clear direction, the suspense will only build.
Grant Brisbee correctly assesses the White Sox's situation at second base -- "hoping Carlos Sanchez can play second like an overqualified shortstop and make up for what's likely to be a slappy, ineffective bat (at least at first)" -- so the rest of the list is worth a look.
He also says "the wind whispers Ben Zobrist's name," which is also true. But given Zobrist's supreme versatility, he fits on every team, which is why it's hard to really whittle down a list of credible landing spots.
- Home Movies of Duke Ellington Playing Baseball (And How Baseball Coined the Word "Jazz") | Open Culture
I've listened to a lot of Duke Ellington over the last month -- you should make his "Three Suites" part of your holiday mix -- so I guess it's only appropriate that I didn't know this clip on YouTube existed for six months before SABR shot it into my Twitter feed.
Speaking of the holidays, it isn't too late to get a gift for your friendly White Sox blogger. Lelands is auctioning off Shoeless Joe Jackson's three-volume set of personal scrapbooks, which contains hints of a prelude to the Black Sox Scandal ...
There's also a 1917 pre-scandal, typed gambling "dope" letter whose name has mysteriously been cut off and in its stead reads ominously: "your unknown friend." The writer congratulates Jackson on three straights in Game 2 and clearly references inside information for gambling purposes, specifically requesting "a line from you on what is the dope that is going on up there in Chicago." This provides fascinating fodder regarding baseball's decision to ban Jackson for life, accusing him of throwing games with his seven teammates, whether Joe was complicit or not.
... as well as evidence that he could throw a ball nearly 400 feet.