Pings Now Thuds

Upon perusing the internets for nothing in particular, I came upon this little article about a big change in college baseball. Aside from featuring a picture of Beau Amaral (former Mariner Rich Amaral's son), it talked about significant changes to the bats in college baseball.

Aluminum is not gone, but it is gone as we know it. There are now regulations on just how efficient the kinetic energy transfer can be. In other words, college bats have to absorb contact with baseball more like a wood bat does, starting this year.

Spring 2011: Position Players

After taking a look at the catchers and pitchers vying for spots on the 2011 Mariners roster, it is time to take a look at the position players, given that they reported today. Once again, the handy-dandy Luis Ugueto intrigue scale will help us find players of interest. Here are the position players as I see them:

The Danger With Pujols

Albert Pujols
Albert Pujols is the greatest player of this generation, and frankly, already one of the greatest players of all time. He could walk away now and be a Hall of Famer in my book, easy.

The only thing Albert is walking away from these days though is a Cardinals contract offer. When the greatest player of his time hits the open market, he is sure to get paid. Reportedly, 8 years, $200 million wasn't enough, and that doesn't surprise me. He will get more in the open market.

Should a team give Pujols so much money though?

Allow me to play devil's advocate, with the help of Baseball Reference. Let's take a look at what happened with the most similar players to Albert through age 30 (Albert's current age), according to B-R's algorithm:

Spring 2011: Catchers and Pitchers

I haven't been able to write my usual YAY SPRING TRAINING IS HERE post, and since pitchers and catchers reported on Sunday, I think the time has passed for that. Instead, I offer this brief primer for all the players so far in camp, sorted into the different groups that I see.

Additionally, I offer an intrigue rating, using Luis Ugueto as the standard unit. Remember him? The Rule 5 guy on the 2002 M's that never did anything but pinch run here or there? The guy listed as a pinch runner on Baseball Reference? (not making that up)

Delcarmen Added To Reclamation Mix

Manny Delcarmen
With tepid fanfare, the Mariners added RHP Manny Delcarmen to the mix by signing him to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. According to a report on the PI blog, he had at least one MLB contract he could have signed in the National League, but chose Seattle because of "the opportunity."

Translation: Delcarmen thinks the M's bullplen blows, so it will be easier for him to make the team.

Manny, unfortunately, is right. There is a reason that he only got a minor league deal though.

Young Is Restless

Popular Texas Ranger Michael Young wants to be traded, but it is looking more and more like he won't be dealt. On many levels, this is not surprising.

Texas is in a tough spot. Young is an aging middle infielder in the twilight of his prime. At 33 years old, he will not necessarily drop off considerably, but he is at that age where a team has to start considering that possibility. With 3 years remaining on his deal, and each of those years paying him $16 million, it is easy to see why a team would think twice about acquiring him.

On top of that, Young is a popular Ranger. It would not look good if they dealt him for pennies on the dollar, especially given that he is still in his prime. It is not the type of move that a defending AL champion typically faces.

However, how many AL champions ask the de facto face of the franchise to move from the field to DH? Especially after moving him off of shortstop a few years ago to make room for a youngster with no MLB experience? Granted, that youngster is Elvis Andrus, but still, would the Yankees have moved Derek Jeter off of short if Robinson Cano had been a natural shortstop?

Dutch Duo

Greg Halman Wladimir Balentien
On Friday, the Netherlands passed Japan and Canada to become the most frequent international visitor to my blog. I'm not entirely convinced it isn't a counting error by Blogger, because I got 54 hits from the nation simultaneously, without any data about referring links or posts visited.

But whatever. I'll take what I can get, and regardless, a noticeable amount of my international traffic comes from the Netherlands. In celebration, I couldn't think of a better thing than to do a Netherlands post.

Bleacher Report

Warning: this is a post only loosely involving baseball. Actually, a more apt description is that it is definitely about baseball, but really, it is about sports coverage in general.

As the title suggests, this post is about Bleacher Report. It is a sports website that has grown considerably, and is up to 20 million viewers a month (at least according to its own numbers). Their approach to sports coverage is polarizing.

Directly quoting Bleacher Report's Company Overview:
Our distinguished editorial team leads more than 700 Featured Columnists, and directs Bleacher Report’s unique data-driven approach to creating and programming content. The result is first-rate sports journalism that gives our audience the stories they want to read in real-time, all the time.

And with more than 500 new articles published daily, no other sports network provides the breadth and depth of Bleacher Report’s highly entertaining coverage. Content created by the Bleacher Report editorial community is regularly syndicated to such leading media outlets as CBS Sports.com, the Los Angeles Times, NHL.com, Hearst NewspapersUSAToday.com, and Telegraph.co.uk.
Continuing down the company overview page, Bleacher Report was founded on the principle that "...everyday sports experts could provide great opinions and analysis, if only they were given the right platform." The self-described Featured Columnists and first-rate sports journalism is largely provided by, as PBS specials might put it, viewers like you and me.

Given Bleacher Report's strong viewership and expanding partnerships with major providers of online sports content, its popularity seems to be growing.

Yet, at the same time, Bleacher Report gets hammered by journalists. For instance, I came across this strong piece by Dave Kindred today. In his writing, he notes that separate business deals, one involving Bleacher Report, and the other Fanhouse, indirectly imply that Bleacher Report's content is valued twice as much on the open market. Kindred cannot fathom how this makes any sense at all, given that Fanhouse features well-respected, award-winning journalists, and Bleacher Report features any Jane or Joe Blow that feels moved to type something.

No doubt, Bleacher Report challenges the status quo of sports journalism. Never before has there been a powerful sports media platform accessible to anyone.

Is that good or bad though?

Do journalists hammer Bleacher Report just because they are jealous? Scared? Stubborn?

Is Bleacher Report really just a place where piddle about whatever athlete or game collects, and 20 million people every month drink the Kool-Aid?

Usually, if I write about something, I have a clear stance or opinion. I don't on Bleacher Report though. I don't know what to make of it.

Roars and Grumbles

My friends and I have catchy (in our heads) pseudonyms for most months. Some, like Manuary, we have taken from popular culture (or popular counterculture?) Others, such as Feb-ROAR-ary, are our own.*

*Notice how Feb-ROAR-ary doubles as a handy way to remember how to spell February

Why do I bring up Feb-ROAR-ary? For no good reason, to be honest. It seemed like a nice way to ease into this post. A handful of things have been passing through my head that make me want to grumble. However, grumbles don't get views on the internet - ROARS do. So here are my ROARS about some recent tidbits I've come across: