All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bill Bavasi speaks

Hal McCoy posted about a fundraising dinner where Bill Bavasi, former Mariners GM and current Special Assistant to Reds GM Walt Jocketty was the speaker. He took many questions from the Reds fans in the audience.

There was some consternation among Reds fans when the team signed veteran shortstop Edgar Renteria because many believing young Reds-grown prospect Paul Janish’s time has come.

“Janish will be our starting shortstop and whatever Paul can’t handle we have Renteria to step in. We’ll see where it goes, but Renteria is a real good safety net and we may ask him to play some second base as a backup.”

Interesting that that's the first highlight Hal lists. Aroldis Chapman to the bullpen? Yonder Alonso trade? Joey Votto contract? Never mind that, what about Janish? ;-)


posted by BubbaFan, 12:09 AM | link | 2 comments |

Thursday, January 27, 2011

In Memoriam

One thing the BBWAA dinner does is look back over the year. In addition to the awards, they also list the names of baseball personalities who have died the previous year. Bob Sheppard and George Steinbrenner were two of the notable Yankees names. Christina Taylor Green, the little girl who died in the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, was among those named. I'd been sort of keeping track of the story - born on 9/11, the daughter of a Dodgers scout, granddaughter of Dallas Green, and the only girl on her Little League team. She dreamed of being the first woman to play MLB baseball. I recognized her name when it was mentioned, so wasn't surprised when her picture appeared in the slideshow later. I would guess most people didn't recognize her name, though, because there was a collective gasp of shock when her photo was flashed on the screen.

One name I was surprised at was Mike Celizic's. I knew he had cancer and the prognosis wasn't good, but I didn't know he had died. (In my defense, I was out of the country at the time.) While trying to find out when he passed away, I came across his last story. I've been critical of his writing in the past, but that article is amazing. He describes the day he learned he would soon die as one of the best of his life, brightened by simple pleasures like a sip of beer and a bite of hamburger, and the caring of friends, family, and the medical staff at the hospital.

I also came across this tribute, at an atheist blog, which quotes an e-mail from Mr. Celizic. He says he's an atheist, and though he was never allowed to say so in print, he would in his last post.

But apparently, it was edited out. The post does not mention his religious beliefs at all. I guess you're not allowed to admit being atheist even if you're on your deathbed.

posted by BubbaFan, 5:30 PM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Scorebook

The Scorebook is sort of an annual/program book sold for $5 at the BBWAA dinner. It has short articles, illustrations, lists of past award winners...and a lot of ads. They sort of remind me of the kind of ads parents take out in their kids' school yearbooks. Some of them congratulate players or managers on their accomplishments. Some of them are farewells to people who have retired or died. And some are ordinary ads (YES, SNY, and MLB.TV were all represented).

The Yankees' ad congratulating Robby Cano and Phil Hughes:

The Dodgers' ad congratulating Joe Torre:

An ad for Torre's Safe At Home Foundation:

The football Giants congratulated their west cost namesakes.

(The Jets also had an ad, in memory of Bill Shannon, a sportswriter and scorer who died in a house fire in October.)

Yankees ad in honor of George Steinbrenner:

posted by BubbaFan, 11:56 PM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The BBWAA Awards Dinner

Saturday night, I went to the BBWAA dinner at the Hilton in NYC. It's the event where the Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, MVP, and other winners are presented with their awards. I'd always assumed you had to be a bigwig to go to these things, but it turns out anyone willing to shell out $225 for a ticket can go.

I wasn't able to find much information on what these dinners were like before I went, so I thought I'd put up a post about my experience, for anyone considering going next year.

It was a "black tie optional" event, which according to the Internets, means they want it to be black tie but don't want to exclude those whose finances don't allow them to buy or rent a tux. And they really want all the players being honored to wear tuxedos. But last year, A-Rod wore a plain old business suit. Even though he can surely afford a tux. That should have been my clue. I was fretting about whether my dress, shoes, hair, coat, etc. were formal enough, but when I got there, a lot of people were dressed really casually. Some were wearing chinos and oxfords, no tie. Some women were wearing evening gowns, but some were wearing business suits, even pantsuits, while were dressed like hookers. Josh Hamilton's wife was a real standout in a long, flared, tiered red ballgown. Not least because this being NY, nearly everyone else was wearing black.

If you wear a dark suit, white shirt, and dark tie (for men) or a nice dress, long or short (for women), you will not be out of place.

If you show up early, you might find a player or two mingling with the crowd in the lobby. There's a cocktail hour from 6-7pm; beer was $8, but once the ballroom doors open and you get to your table, beer and soda is free.

There are almost no photos from past BBWAA dinners on the web. I was afraid photos weren't allowed, but it turns out, they did not forbid photography. Even flash photography was permitted. However, it was so dark and most people are sitting so far away that you really couldn't get good photos. Didn't stop us all from trying, however. :-)

The first course was not soup or salad, but pasta. They put this huge pasta plate down in front of you...then put a few tablespoons of pasta on it. It was rigatoni with tomato sauce and eggplant. Later they came around serving grated parmesan, but most people were finished eating by then.

As soon as they came to take the plates away, everyone jumped up from the table. I thought that meant dinner was over. Pretty cheap dinner, but I was too excited to be very hungry, and it wasn't like I was there for the food, anyway.

But no, dinner wasn't over. It was just that everyone took the time between courses to try and get photos and autographs. It was the best time to approach the players. Once the program started, you pretty much had to stay in your seat, and most of them didn't stick around for long afterwards, so the experienced fans made their move between dinner courses.

By far the most popular player there was Willie Mays. He was with the Giants contingent. (They brought their trophy with them.) There was a constant mob around Mays all night. He handled it by only signing autographs for kids and active duty military personnel. Which plecked off the autograph hound sitting next to me, who pointed out that the kids don't even know who Willie Mays is. (I would guess that most of the kids were put up to it by pro dealers. Sports memorabilia dealers buy whole tables, invite their best customers, as well as staff and family members, and give them all items to get signed for later sale.)

The rest of the dinner was filet minon, gratin potatoes, carrots, and broccoli rabe. (Vegetarians got a rice dish.)

I never heard of broccoli rabe until I moved to NY. I like it, but it seems like an odd choice for a banquet. It tends to be bitter, especially if it's not carefully cooked. Many don't care for it. They gave us large portions, and most people didn't eat theirs.

Dessert was chocolate mousse with mocha sauce and pistachio filling. It wasn't very good, IMO, but the white chocolate BBWAA logo was cute.

Bernie Williams started off the programming by playing the national anthem on his electric guitar.

He also introduced Robinson Cano, who won the Joe DiMaggio Toast of the Town Award (given to the best player in NY). He told a funny story about how Robby came up to him when he was first called up, and said Bernie was his hero growing up. Bernie wasn't happy at having the age difference pointed out, but he knew Cano was going to stick in the big leagues.

Robby looked very nice. More facial hair than he'd be able to wear during baseball season, but very neat and well-dressed.

Phil Hughes won the "Good Guy" award (given to the player who is most helpful to the media), but he wasn't there. Cy Young winners Roy Halladay and Felix Hernandez were there, but Tim Lincecum (postseason MVP) had a prior commitment. Rookies of the Year Neftali Feliz and Buster Posey were both there.

Brian Cashman introduced AL MVP Josh Hamilton. He said the Yankees handled him by walking him at every opportunity.

Barry Larkin introduced NL MVP Joey Votto.

Bernie Williams and his band (called "Squeeze Play") played Take Me Out to the Ball Game and Centerfield during the, seventh inning stretch. They really are pretty good.

Joe Girardi introduced Joe Torre, who won the Willie, Mickey and the Duke Award (along with Lou Piniella and Bobby Cox).

Torre was very touched to be back in NY, saying he was "home" again. I have to say, it was good to see him again. I did think it was time for him to go when he left, but I still kind of miss him. Even though he drove me nuts sometimes.

Bernie and the band played us out the door, to "Glory Days."

There was a program/yearbook of sorts, called The Scorebook. It had many ads honoring players for their achievements. I'll post some of those tomorrow.

posted by BubbaFan, 7:10 PM | link | 1 comments |

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sim Baseball

Bubba Crosby plays sim baseball. He was player of the game, with a double and a walkoff grandslam.

I have no idea how sim baseball works, but it's kind of neat that Bubba plays on, if only in fantasy games.


posted by BubbaFan, 9:26 PM | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How Superstars’ Pay Stifles Everyone Else

The New York Times published this excerpt from a book called The Price of Everything: Solving the Mystery of Why We Pay What We Do. It's a book about how it's more than supply and demand that set prices, and about how not all costs are measured in money. However, this particular excerpt is about the increasingly unequal distribution of money - how a few superstars make outrageous amounts of money, at the expense of the rest.

IN 1990, the Kansas City Royals had the heftiest payroll in Major League Baseball: almost $24 million. A typical player for the New York Yankees, which had some of the most expensive players in the game at the time, earned less than $450,000.

Last season, the Yankees spent $206 million on players, more than five times the payroll of the Royals 20 years ago, even after accounting for inflation. The Yankees’ median salary was $5.5 million, seven times the 1990 figure, inflation-adjusted.

What is most striking is how the Yankees have outstripped the rest of the league. Two decades ago. the Royals’ payroll was about three times as big as that of the Chicago White Sox, the cheapest major-league team at the time. Last season, the Yankees spent about six times as much as the Pittsburgh Pirates, who had the most inexpensive roster.

Baseball aficionados might conclude that all of this points to some pernicious new trend in the market for top players. But this is not specific to baseball, or even to sport. Consider the market for pop music. In 1982, the top 1 percent of pop stars, in terms of pay, raked in 26 percent of concert ticket revenue. In 2003, that top percentage of stars — names like Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera or 50 Cent — was taking 56 percent of the concert pie.

These days, it's hard to imagine the Royals having the richest payroll in baseball, or the Yankees' typical player making less than half a million. But as the article points out, it's not just baseball. This increasing inequality has been a trend for awhile now, in many fields.

We've all heard about the CEOs who make 400 times what their employees make, when in the past, the CEO would make perhaps 20 times what the lowliest clerk in the mailroom made. In the previous century, it was possible for ordinary people to make a decent living in music, without being a superstar. In publishing, people talk about the "disappearance of the midlist." The midlist used to be the bread and butter of publishers - the authors who were not superstars, but not newbies either. They had established track records and regular readers, but didn't top the bestseller lists. Now, the trend is to give ridiculous amounts of money to the superstars - the Stephen Kings and JK Rowlings - and much less to everyone else. New authors are often preferred, because they are cheap, and there's a chance they'll be the next King or Rowling...kind of like baseball teams prefer cheap young players who may turn into superstars, over the higher-paid journeymen.

Of course, inequality is what drives capitalism. But, the book argues, too much inequality can "gum up the works." People are turned off by extreme inequality, and if only a few superstars reap the rewards, people will give up and not even try, figuring they can't beat such unfavorable odds. Ideally, you have some inequality, but not too much. There has to be a balance. (No idea how that might be realistically achieved, however.)


posted by BubbaFan, 9:36 PM | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Janish got calls from Baker and Jocketty

Reds beat writer John Fay talked to Paul Janish about the Renteria signing.

Paul Janish heard the rumors before it happened. When the Reds signed veteran shortstop Edgar Renteria, it was widely assumed that it was to be the starter, thus dropping Janish to No. 2 on the depth chart.

So when Dusty Baker and Walt Jocketty called Janish to say that wasn’t the case, it meant a lot.

“It was pretty re-assuring,” Janish said. “Mentally, you can help but wonder. So it was a pretty big deal that they called. I know the job is at least mine to lose. I’m pretty fired up about being in more than the utility role.”

If he hits as well as he did last year, I think the Reds would happily take it, along with his defense in a demanding position.


posted by BubbaFan, 7:26 PM | link | 0 comments |

Friday, January 14, 2011

Staying fit in retirement

I saw a study once, of professional athletes who had retired. It found that most of them did not stay in shape once they hung up their spikes. They were still very interested in their old sports, but this was expressed in watching games on TV. Most had no interest in playing in community leagues, nor did they take up other forms of exercise. In short, a lot of them turned into couch potatoes.

So what happens to such people? Does the intense training they did in their youth confer any benefits once they are no longer exercising?

The answer is apparently no. Even if you were an elite athlete in your youth, you'll pay if you turn into a couch potato in middle age. Indeed, young or old, you'll lose conditioning quickly if you stop exercising entirely. turns out that staying in shape is a lot easier than getting in shape. That is, a retired pro athlete can work out a lot less, without losing much fitness.

In other words, being almost completely inactive, whether for a short or prolonged period of time, inexorably de-tones muscles and compromises health. The benefits of regular activity don’t last long.

But there is a loophole. In these same studies, as well as others, relatively small amounts of activity allowed participants to maintain much of the health and fitness they had previously gained. In the kayaking study, for instance, some of the athletes didn’t completely cease their training at the end of the season; they merely cut back, limiting themselves to one weight-training session and two endurance workouts per week (a fraction of their full-season training) and consequently lost barely half as much of their aerobic power as the kayakers who stopped exercising altogether. Five weeks “of markedly reduced training in a group of elite athletes seems effective for minimizing the large declines” in conditioning “that take place by completely stopping physical training,” the authors wrote.

Working out as little as once a week enables people who are in shape to hold onto their fitness gains. (You do have to be in shape to begin with, of course.)

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posted by BubbaFan, 8:35 PM | link | 0 comments |

Monday, January 10, 2011

Janish's job to lose?

Walt Jocketty says that Paul Janish is still the Reds' starting shortstop.

"Edgar [Renteria] addresses the need for veteran leadership," Jocketty said. "He's a veteran middle infielder that can play shortstop and help Paul Janish. It's a good move. He still has a lot left in him."

Since Renteria agreed to terms on a deal with the Reds on Thursday, there had been a lot of speculation about the status of Janish at shortstop. When the club gets to camp, he will still be the regular shortstop.

"I called Janish on Saturday to make sure he knew that," Jocketty said.

Of course, what really matters is who the starting shortstop is when they break camp...


posted by BubbaFan, 10:36 PM | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, January 09, 2011


I was puttering around Wikipedia this morning, when I saw this on Paul Janish’s page:

Paul Ryan Janish (YAWN-ish), nicknamed “Goose” (born October 12, 1982 in Houston, Texas) is a Major League Baseball shortstop and third baseman for the Cincinnati Reds.

Huh? Goose? Is he really nicknamed “Goose”?

His page has been subject to vandalism before (as have many Reds pages), so I Googled it to see if there were any references. And found this:

Someone on eBay is selling the above Paul Janish t-shirts.

Is he really nicknamed “Goose,” or was some eBay entrepreneur sucked in by a Wikipedia prankster?


posted by BubbaFan, 4:15 PM | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Case For Paul Janish

Edgar Renteria seems to think he'll be the Reds' starting shortstop. But the Reds apparently don't see it that way.

Asked if he considered Renteria or Paul Janish the starter, Baker said:

“I don’t know. We don’t have a quarterback controversy at short. Everybody plays on my team. They’re both going to play. Janish is younger. Edgar is more experienced. Janish deserves a chance to be my shortstop.”

...Baker plans to play Renteria at other position as well as shortstop. Renteria played one game at first base in majors, all his other appearances are at shortstop.

Very different from the way Orlando Cabrera was viewed last year. He was the guaranteed starter. Still...I hope Janish has a good spring training.

Fangraphs thinks Janish is probably the better player.

The Reds decided to sign Renteria despite his recent struggles, perhaps believing there’s a chance he will bounce back with a new team. While Renteria’s slash line from 2010 looks acceptable (.276/.332/.374), his peripherals show a player in decline. Renteria made less contact in 2010, leading to a career high strikeout rate. His line drive rate, which has hovered between 21%-24% over his career, plummeted to just 15.7% last season. Even when Renteria made contact last season, he wasn’t able to hit the ball as hard. It must be said, however, that Renteria was injured for a large part of last season and it’s possible some of his decline could be related to injuries.

…Renteria’s signing relegates Paul Janish back into a utility role this season. It’s possible, however, that Janish is the better player. Janish is regarded as an excellent defender, earning praise from the scouts and the advanced metrics. In 2009, Janish posted a 11.0 UZR in only 90 games. If he ever played a full season, he could rate as one of the stronger defensive shortstops in the game.

It’s a bit more difficult to judge Janish as a hitter. In three seasons, Janish has accumulated only 609 plate appearances. Over those three seasons, however, Janish has steadily improved. With each season, Janish has improved his contact rate, walk rate, and overall slash line, while lowering his strikeout rate. It’s a small sample from each season, but it looks like Janish is making improvements as a hitter each year. In 2010, Janish and Renteria actually posted similar offensive seasons in a similar amount of plate appearances.

Good point. Janish is probably better than Renteria right now, and he's on the rise while Renteria is in decline. Janish should be the starter.

The numbers he put up for the Reds last season were perfectly respectable, when taken along with his premium defense in a tough position. I know it's a small sample size, but I think it's legit. It's in line with his minor league numbers.

The other teams in the division don't have anyone better at SS (except maybe the Cubs' Starlin Castro). It's not like Derek Jeters grow on trees.

I don't think the Reds have anyone better than Janish down on the farm, either. At least, no one in the upper levels. The Reds had a glut of talent at shortstop, but none has emerged as a clear shortstop of the future. Zack Cozart had a great year in 2009, which raised a lot of hopes, but he came back down to earth last year, suggesting that maybe 2009 was a fluke. His minor league numbers are very similar to Janish's - almost identical OPS, only with more power but a lower OBP. His defense is good - more speed than Janish, but a weaker arm. First round draft pick Todd Frazier has been moved to left field, and Chris Valaika has been moved to second base. Kris Negron, a recent acquisition from the Red Sox farm system, had a good year last year, but looking over his minor league career, he doesn't seem to be as good as Cozart or Janish on offense or defense.

Cozart is the only one of them I'd consider over Janish. He's got nice pop, but Janish has a much better OBP. If I had to choose, I'd go with OBP.


posted by BubbaFan, 10:53 AM | link | 2 comments |

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Reds sign Renteria

Well, the World Series MVP is now a Red. Not sure what this means for Paul Janish.

As recently as three days ago, the Reds indicated that Janish was their man, and Renteria would be a backup.

"We're still looking for a veteran infielder that can play shortstop and second base," Jocketty said. "And we're looking for a veteran outfielder, preferably a left-handed hitter for the bench."

...For the infielder, the club has interest in veteran shortstop Edgar Renteria.

"We've been talking with them and a couple of other people," Jocketty said. "Whoever we sign will be more of a complementary player that's able to play different positions and bring experience."

...There are no plans to displace Paul Janish from having the inside track for the starting shortstop spot.

But whether Dusty Baker will go along with this plan is another story, as this Fanhouse article notes:

It's possible that the Reds will use Renteria off the bench, but given his earlier comments and Dusty Baker's fondness for veterans it seems likely that Renteria will be in the lineup more often than not.

That doesn't necessarily mean it would be the right choice, however. Renteria was limited to 72 games because of injury last season and posted fairly unimpressive numbers when he was in the lineup. He did rebound in the postseason, of course, but his overall production wasn't better than what Janish would likely provide Cincinnati in the 2011 season.

I'm hopeful that Renteria really will be a backup. For one thing, he's been much more injury-prone than Orlando Cabrera; it's probably not reasonable for any team to expect him to be a full-time starter at this point.

I guess we'll see. I'd love to see Janish force Dusty's hand.

All in all, I'm not unhappy about this signing. The Reds needed a backup for Janish, and it sounds like that's what Renteria will be. (And this deal probably means the Reds won't be signing a veteran starting SS.)


posted by BubbaFan, 5:21 PM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

And the worst Yankee of the past five years is...

...Melky Cabrera, according to Steve at WasWatching.

Jose Molina is second worst, and Andy Phillips is third worst.

Bubba Crosby is ranked #50 on the list (a lot of players are tied). However, I think that includes just his last year with the Yankees. He'd probably rank higher if 2005 were included. And I always thought he'd have hit decently if he got regular playing time. Sigh. Too bad he didn't get the chance Melky did. I think he'd have made more of it than Melky did.

posted by BubbaFan, 9:04 PM | link | 0 comments |