Friday, February 21, 2014

The Braves Are Locked In And Loaded With Youth

I know that I have mentioned in past posts how many teams have been locking in their young talent to long term contracts before letting them reach free agency. So far this 2014 season, the Atlanta Braves have gone way above and beyond in locking up their young talent. This offseason/spring training the Braves have extended Freddie Freeman, Julio Teheran, Craig Kimbrel, Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons. These are five players that are 26 years of age and under. They also join the B.J. and Justin Upton who are 29 and 26 respectively, Evan Gattis at 27. Even counting the old man in the group (Dan Uggla is 34), this is a core group that will be together for at least another two seasons.

Courtesy of Baseball 
Heyward, Uggla and Upton are signed through the 2015 season. B.J. Upton and Kimbrel are signed through 2017. Gattis is under contractual control through 2018. Teheran is signed though 2019. Andrelton Simmons is signed through 2020. Freddie Freeman is signed until 2021. The Braves do need to address their starting pitching but then again what team in the majors doesn't. Aside from that I think the Braves are poised for some special things to come in the future.

I have to admit that I like how teams are locking up their talent. Though I still think a maximum of a five-year deal is ideal for Baseball contracts, giving a player who is 24 a seven or eight-year deal is much more appealing than giving a player in his 30's the same kind of deal. It is also promising to see teams making a real effort to invest in their young players by signing them long term and paying them rather than utilizing the system to just keep control of the players and letting them walk after the end of their rookie contracts. I think it sends the right message to the fan base that the team is committed to winning with their homegrown players year in and year out.

I hate to wax poetically about this, but I think that it is important that fans (especially the younger fans) grow up watching the same group of players on the field like it was in yesteryear. I understand the economic dynamics are different from then to now, but it is good to feel that young fans will be able to follow their favorite players on their teams for hopefully the player's entire career. That remains to be seen but I think the teams are not only do right by their bottom lines but by their fans as well.

Sisco Kid

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What is the Restricted List

In the last few days there have been a couple of players that have been placed on the Major League Baseball Restricted List. Both Ryan Dempster of the Boston Red Sox and Franklin Gutierrez of the Seattle Mariners have notified their respective teams that they would not be able to play this season. Now, I'm not sure how often players are placed on the Restricted List, but I remember two off the top of my head from last season. The Miami Marlins placed  Miguel Olivo and Austin Kearns on the restricted list last season. Since I'm a little in the dark about what exactly the restricted list is, I've decided to look into it. Here is how the Restriced List is described in Rule 15 of the Major League Rules (from March 2008):
Rule 15
(a) RESTRICTED LIST. If, without permission from a player's Major or Minor League Club, a player fails, within 10 days of the opening of the player's Club's championship season, to report to, or contract with, the player's Club, the player may be reported by the Club to the Commissioner or the Commissioner's designee for placement on the "Restricted List." A player on the Restricted List shall not be eligible to play for any Major or Minor League Club.

Before the start of the championship season but not before January 1, a Major or Minor League Club also may report for placement on the Restricted List any player, whether or not under contract for the current season, who has given the Club written or telegraphic notification that the player will not report until 30 days or more after the opening of the championship season. Requests to the Commissioner or the Commissioner's designee shall be accompanied by the notification which the Club received from the player.
The Commissioner or the Commissioner's designee may place a Major or Minor League Reserve List player on the Restricted List if the player's Club certifies that unusual circumstances exist.
In terms of Player Status while on the Restricted List:
(e) PLAYER STATUS. With respect to a player under a Major League Uniform Player's Contract:(3) A player on the Restricted, Disqualified or Ineligible List (A) shall not be unconditionally released, and (B) shall not be entitled to salary while on any such list, nor after reinstatement from any such list, until such date (not exceeding 30 days after reinstatement) as the player is in condition to participate in championship games to the satisfaction of the player's Club.
If a player decided that they they want to be reinstated, the following according to Rule 16 of the Major League Rules (from March 2008) needs to occur:
Rule 16
(a) APPLICATION. Any player on the Voluntarily Retired, Restricted, Disqualified or Ineligible List may apply for reinstatement, or to have the player's status changed, upon the conditions stated in this Rule 16. Any Major or Minor League Club having a player on the Restricted List may apply for the player's reinstatement. Such application shall be filed with the Commissioner or the Commissioner's designee. An application for reinstatement may be granted upon such terms and conditions as the facts may warrant in the judgment of the Commissioner or the Commissioner's designee.

If a player files an application for reinstatement from the Voluntarily Retired, Disqualified or Ineligible Lists after February 1 of any year, the player's Major or Minor League Club shall be entitled to 30 days' written notice prior to the player's reinstatement. No application for reinstatement shall be received from a Voluntarily Retired player within 60 playing days of the player's retirement. No Major League player on the Voluntarily Retired, Disqualified or Ineligible Lists shall be reinstated during the period from August 1 to and including October 31. No Major League player on the Restricted List shall be reinstated during the period from August 1 to and including October 31, unless the Restricted List, placement had followed a Bereavement List placement pursuant to Rule 2(n) (Major League Bereavement List) or had been made pursuant to the Major or Minor League Drug Treatment and Prevention Programs. No Minor League player on the Voluntarily Retired, Restricted, Disqualified or Ineligible Lists shall be reinstated during the period from August 1 until the conclusion of the Minor League championship season and playoffs, unless the Restricted List placement had been made pursuant to the Major or Minor League Drug Treatment and Prevention Programs.

(b) PLAYER ON RESTRICTED LIST. A Restricted List player shall be reinstated immediately upon receipt of written or telegraphic application for reinstatement from the player's Major or Minor League Club.
Jeff Euston in his article Contractual Matters: The Restricted List from Baseball Prospectus dated May 13, 2010 has a historical breakdown of some players that have been placed on the Restricted List for various reasons. It is quite the interesting read.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, how does this impact the situations of Gutierrez and Dempster. In terms of Gutierrez, according to Greg Johns in his article With Gutierrez out, Mariners lack righty outfield bats from dated February 14, 2014:
The 2010 American League Gold Glove Award winner became a free agent after his four-year, $19-million contract expired last year, but re-signed with Seattle in December for $1 million with a potential $2 million more in incentives. That contract is now voided by his decision to go on the restricted list.

Gutierrez was diagnosed with an inflammatory condition called ankylosing spondylitis last season and was optimistic that medication was helping him deal better with hip and joint issues, as well as the digestive problems that had hindered him. But with those problems returning, he chose this week to step away from the game for now.
I have no idea what Ankylosing spondylitis is. Here is how the condition is described on the Spondylitis Association of America's website listing for Ankylosing spondylitis:
Ankylosing spondylitis (pronounced ank-kih-low-sing spon-dill-eye-tiss), or AS, is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine, although other joints can become involved. It causes inflammation of the spinal joints (vertebrae) that can lead to severe, chronic pain and discomfort. In the most advanced cases (but not in all cases), this inflammation can lead to new bone formation on the spine, causing the spine to fuse in a fixed, immobile position, sometimes creating a forward-stooped posture. This forward curvature of the spine is called kyphosis. More information on kyphosis and fusion can be found in the complications section.

AS can also cause inflammation, pain and stiffness in other areas of the body such as the shoulders, hips, ribs, heels and small joints of the hands and feet. Sometimes the eyes can become involved (known as Iritis or Uveitis), and rarely, the lungs and heart can be affected. See the Complications of Spondylitis: How is a Person Affected? page for more information.

The hallmark feature of ankylosing spondylitis is the involvement of the sacroiliac (SI) joints during the progression of the disease, which are the joints at the base of the spine, where the spine joins the pelvis.
That sounds painful. I hope Gutierrez can recover and come back to play at some point. He was a dynamic player for the Mariners. Dempster is a different story.

Dempster decided to take the 2014 season off and forgo a salary of $13.25 million dollars. In a series of tweets by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal Twitter feed from February 16, 2014 (as listed in Tyler Conway's article Red Sox SP Ryan Dempster Announces Decision Not to Pitch During 2014 Season from Bleacher Report on February 16, 2014)
BREAKING: Ryan Dempster will not pitch for #RedSox in 2014 due to physical reasons and his desire to spend more time with his kids. Dempster: “I don’t feel like I am capable of performing to the ability and standard that I am accustomed to. I feel it’s in the best interest of both the club but most importantly myself to step away from playing baseball at this time. The time is right. . . .I’m not saying retirement but I definitely won’t be playing this season.
I can appreciate his wanting to spend more time with his family. I feel that way myself in my current position as bartender/bar manager. But to walk away from $13.25 million is something else. I give him tons of props if he does decide not to play the rest of the season and even walking away from his career by retiring. I know some people, like my friend Christopher, wonder if this is a way to not have to deal with the grind of the season and come back in August fresh as a daisy a-la Roy Oswalt. In this case we'll have to wait and see what Dempster does.

I hope this clarifies what exactly the Restricted List is. If you have any more information on the Restricted List, feel free to contact me at my email, my Facebook Page Baseball Sisco Kid Style or at my Google+ page Baseball Sisco.

Sisco Kid

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Derek Jeter As Our Generation's Mickey Mantle

As many know by now, New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter has announced that this season will be his last season. This is two years in a row where Yankees legends have announced that the upcoming season will be their last. Something I told my friend Christopher has been on my mind. I told him that Derek Jeter is the Mickey Mantle of our generation. While I make the comparison between Jeter and Mantle, would also like to do so while making the comparison between Joe DiMaggio and Don Mattingly. How so? Allow me to elaborate on this.

Both DiMaggio and Mattingly were beloved by the Yankees faithful. While they were certainly missed by the fans after their retirement, the success by the team post-retirement helped to ease their departure. DiMaggio retired after the 1951 season. After he leaves the Yankees win the World Series in 1952-1953, 1956, 1958, 1961-1962 with losses in the World Series in 1955, 1957, 1960, 1963, and 1964. The stoic DiMaggio was replaced in the fans' hearts with charismatic and handsome Mickey Mantle.

Mattingly retired after the post-season loss to the Seattle Mariners in 1995 and the team would go on to win four World Series in five years 1996, 1998-2000 with losses in 2001 and 2003. As with DiMaggio, Mattingly (though not stoic as DiMaggio was) was replaced by his eventual successor as Yankees Captain: the charismatic and handsome Derek Jeter. In this I believe Mantle and Jeter are very similar.

Derek Jeter and Mickey Mantle
Both players were the leaders and face of the franchise during years of prosperity. Both were also the face of the teams when their careers started to decline amid injuries and a team that seemed to be a shadow of their winning selves. The departures of both players would (potentially in the case of Jeter) mark the end of prosperous eras. The end of the "Golden Era of New York Baseball" Yankees-era and the "Core Four" Yankees-era are (and will be) marked by the retirements of Mantle and Jeter respectively. Their teams would seem to be in flux, leaning towards leaner years to come. It would take eight years before the Yankees would return to the World Series post-Mantle. Time will only tell where the Yankees will stand post-Jeter.

All we know that we need to enjoy watching Derek Jeter as we did watching Mariano Rivera. Luckily for me (as I did last season) I have tickets for the last Yankees home game on September 25, 2014. We indeed are indeed on the in verge of a whole new Yankees era. Yankees Baseball won't be the same without Derek Jeter.

Sisco Kid