Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Zen Dayley: Lawrie signs on dotted line, kneels in the dirt

Time is tight, so it's an all-bullet-point Zen Dayley today ...

  • Brett Lawrie, the odds-on next B.C. ballplayer to be an impact player in the majors, has signed with the Brewers for a $1.7-million bonus. The party line is he will start his pro career as a catcher. He at least rates a chance to succeed or fail behind the plate on his own merit.
  • Curt Schilling and Manny Ramírez nearly ended up throwing hands during a game back in 2005. Oh, try not to look so shocked. 
  • Has Skimgate gained any traction with sports fans? It should be borderline bloody scandalous. A billion-dollar enterprise like MLB, in particular some of its richest teams, the Red Sox and Yankees, are enabling people to prey on teenage ballplayers who have no leverage and no means of defending themselves. (They're probably afraid if they do refuse to kick back part of their bonus money, or clam up over someone skimming from their bonus, they'll be ostracized from playing organized baseball.)

    The street agents, so-called, in the Dominican Republic, should be getting paid if they can help a MLB team secure the services of the next Miguel Cabrera. It needs to be aboveboard, so people aren't tempted to take advantage of the situation. This probably also helps form an argument for a universal entry draft. However, don't hold your breath on that happening. MLB has a consistent head-in-the-sand approach — what happens in Latin America, stays in Latin America — and powerful teams would stand to lose the most.
  • A 30-win improvment by the Rays would almost be unprecedented, as evidenced by the list S.I.'s Tom Verducci compiled of the most improved teams since 1900. Any team from before 1920, when baseball wasn't that organized, can't be discounted. The 1999 Arizona Diamondbacks (100 wins from 65) don't really count, since they were a team that was built with free-agent signings. The 1962 Phillies (81 wins from 47 wins) also benefited from an expanded schedule.
Damn, the Jays
  • One aphorism to apply to Roy Halladay after eight innings of one-run, four-hit ball vs. the Athletics on Monday: "Authentic art doesn't advertise." (Hat tip to Mordecai Richler.
  • You get a little link, and you give a little link. The Tao was nice enough to link here last night. That led me to The Mockingbird, which leads to Baseball Analysts' fielding rankings.

    Long story short, Vernon Wells, the Jays' $126-million centrefielder, is listed as the second-worst defender in the entire majors. (Yankees rightfielder Bobby Abreu is the worst.)

    Alex Rios, in contrast, is listed as the best rightfielder in the AL. One reason not to switch him to centre is that when he plays there, he forgets his bat:
    When playing centrefield: .260/.301/.388
    When playing rightfield: .304/.356/.443
  • The same company that overlooks the gameday operation at the Rogers Centre also does in Tampa ... of course, that has nothing to do with why a team who's 21 games above .500 is third-last in the AL in attendance. (Link via the awesome ShysterBall.)

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