Wednesday, February 24, 2010

History of Baseball expansion

From 1903 – 1960, MLB operated with 16 teams. Over a 38 year period from 1960-1998 the league added 14 teams in 6 installments. If you look at how the league expanded it paints a picture of a pretty conservative approach to expansion. Take a look. I’ve added very little factual evidence in this discussion. Mostly observational.

1. 1961 – Washington Senators and LA Angels
a. The 1960 Senators moved to Minneapolis to become the Twins. The 1961 Senators were the expansion team. So really the new market explored here was the Minnesota market. But this wasn’t a case of MLB deciding to move into Minnesota, it was more Clark Griffith searching for greener pastures. This counts as a move, and not an expansion.
2. 1962 – New York Mets and Houston Astros
3. 1969 – KC Royals, Seattle Pilots, SD Padres, Montreal Expos
4. 1977 – Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays
5. 1993 – Colorado Rockies, Florida Marlins
6. 1998 – Arizona D-Backs, Tampa Bay D-Rays

That’s the list. Of the 14 teams, 8 of them were teams added to existing markets, or pre-existing markets, and demographics. I deem these to be low risk expansion efforts because a precedent already existed.

1. Senators (replaced the first incarnation that moved to Minnesota)
2. Angels (MLB places a second team in southern Cal)
3. Mets (MLB restocks the NY market after having lost two teams to Cali).
4. Royals (KC gets another shot after the A’s moved to Oakland)
5. Padres (SoCal gets a third team)
6. Mariners (MLB has mercy on Seattle after the Pilots moved to Milwaukee after one season)
7. Blue Jays (Second Canadian team)
8. Rays (Second Florida team)

That leaves six instances where baseball owners decided to go out on a limb and put a brand new baseball team in an area that previously did not have one.

1. 1962 – Baseball moves into Texas with the Astros
a. This has to be considered a success. The Rangers came to the state too when the second version of the Senators moved here.
2. 1969 – Baseball moves into the Pacific Northwest with the Pilots
a. Had it not been for Nintendo, Ken Griffey, Randy Johnson, Ichiro, and SafeCo Field, baseball would have failed in the Pacific Northwest. But they seem to have a good thing going here
3. 1969 – Baseball moves to Canada with the Expos
a. I think the decision to move to Canada was probably a good one. The thing that killed the Expos, and Jon probably has more to say on this than I, is the strike and impatient ownership. The strike angered all the French Canadians, but the Expos had good baseball people in place to keep the team relevant. Problem though is that the people who owned those teams became frustrated with the methods of the baseball people and next thing you know the Expos are playing games in Puerto Rico and Quebec gave up on the team. Now we have the Nationals. I think Montreal has the fire power to support a team.
4. 1993 – Baseball moves to Colorado
a. Seems to have worked
5. 1993 – Baseball moves to Florida
a. I’ll come back to this
6. 1998 – Baseball moves to Arizona
a. Seems to be working

The baseball in Florida thing is still up in the air. Miami and Tampa Bay have their own sets of excuses for why things haven’t gone according to plan. Miami’s market potential will be put to the final test in 2012 and beyond when their long awaited stadium opens. Tampa Bay….we all know the issues here.

In the spirit of keeping this a baseball talkin forum, I’m going to refrain from stadium talk. But this little exercise was intended to break down baseball expansion into larger categories and illustrate how fortunate Tampa Bay is to have gotten a franchise.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Training videos from ESPN, via RaysIndex

The Longoria video is less compelling. The interesting things from the Crawford videos are the hands on approach that the new hitting coach has (I know Jon was not happy with Henderson). But more interesting is the base stealing one.

Crawford working with the new batting coach

Crawford working on his base stealing

Longo working out

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Back in action

On Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 7:19 AM: Nate

Johnny Damon’s name keeps appearing in the Times. Raysindex keeps writing about it too. My gut reaction was that there wasn’t a big enough upgrade to justify the potential for having to bear the brunt of some of Burrell’s contract when we go to trade him to an unsuspecting team. Here’s the tale of the tape. I figured I’d give Burrell the benefit of the doubt and I included last year’s and his 2008 numbers in the matrix

Statistically Damon has a distinct edge. But it’s the Rays so there is always the matter of money. One thing that the writers never seem to mention is that the whole potential Burrell trade and Damon courting at this point is a product of writer chatter. I haven’t read anything to suggest real interest from the Rays. Also, the whole point of signing Pat Burrell was to add a right handed power hitter for the middle of the order. Johnny Damon is a left handed top of the order guy who isn’t primarily a power guy, so I’m not seeing the fit in that regard. I think the top of the Rays batting order is pretty much set at this point


You could even say that the #5 spot is most likely Zobrist on most nights assuming he continues playing good baseball. After that it gets interesting. BJ Upton’s spot in the order is going to be a question mark. We know Maddon likes having a quality hitter at #9, but that doesn’t seem to fit with what BJ has in mind for himself. You gotta think Navarro/Shoppach is slotted for the #8 spot. This would make the back part of the lineup:

2B/RF (depending on where Zobrist isn’t playing that night)

Those 6 and 7 spots are where we will see appearances from Rodriguez, Joyce, Aybar, Brignac (maybe Brignac is probably a #9 guy)

Also if you acquire Damon is he a better RF option than Zobrist? I don’t know how his arm stacks up. It seems like it might be worth a gamble to keep Burrell and hope he turns the corner into a prototype AL DH. But even then you would think Zobrist gets to hit at #5 ahead of him to start the season. I guess this is where the manager starts earning his salary.

2009 Johnny Damon (35)
2009 Pat Burrell (32)
2008 Pat Burrell










From: Jon
My thoughts on Damon are that he knows the East and most of the pitchers in the East pretty well at this point. I don't know if you can look up his numbers against AL East pitching alone, but I would bet it's better than the rest of the AL. He also seems to be a good clubhouse guy, and will be able to keep guys loose during the year. He's also a pretty grizzled vet at this point, knows the frustration of playing for small-time clubs (from his KC days), and would probably be an asset in many other regards. My biggest issues with him would be a) the amount of money that it would take to sign him, and b) if his performance against the Rays was any indication, no player benefitted more from the shallow deck in new Yankee Stadium than Damon. He's also, in my opinion, a big time steroid risk.

On the other hand, F- Pat Burrell. He seemed to be a surly prick during most of the season, never came up big in situations that demanded it, and is getting paid far too much money for what was an embarrassing performance last year. I know his numbers picked up in the second half, but he rarely inspired confidence at the plate, and gave no indication that he liked anyone around him on the team. I wouldn't be sad to see him leave.

As for where Damon would lineup, I think he would be a good fit in the 9 hole. He'd be setting up our leadoff men, and would be in a good RBI spot for the back half of the lineup, which is surprisingly stronger than many other teams in the majors. I could see:
That's a pretty good lineup, and Damon and Joyce/Rodriguez could always be flipped depending on performance.

I'm not against the switch, but mainly because I hate Pat Burrell.
On Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 10:46 AM, Nate
Here’s a direct link to his performance by team (sortable)

It’s hard to draw conclusions on his performance against the AL East because of the unbalanced scheduling. You make a very strong case for why he would be an asset. I think Nick Swisher will go into mourning without Johnny Damon. To your point about Burrell being disliked, he was the only guy who didn’t get regular pies to the face during Kalas post game interviews. I’d like to know more about his confrontation with Crawford too. The fact that he is capable of published disagreement with Carl Crawford tells me that he’s out of his element. He killed rallies with untimely strikeouts. The guy never advanced runners with no outs.

Your lineup with Damon at #9 does look great, but it’s probably not worth getting frothy over it because it’s unlikely to happen.