Five Links: April 3, 2015

When dinosaurs ruled the Earth, I used to publish “Friday Links” at Ducksnorts. The name pretty well describes the feature, and I’ve decided to resurrect it here for the 2015 season. It’ll still run on Fridays, but there will only be five links, hence the new moniker.

That was a tedious explanation of something that shouldn’t need one. Here are more interesting things to read, in no particular order:

  • Bell’s final toll: Longtime closer elects to retire (Padres.com) – Kevin Towers acquired Heath Bell in November 2006 for almost nothing. Bell blossomed into a three-time All-Star in San Diego before departing as a free agent after the 2011 season. He was a dominant reliever for the Padres and a punching bag everywhere else. Now, after being released by the Washington Nationals in spring training, he’s ready for the next step in life: “My kids wanted me home. What’s more important: my kids or the big leagues? I’ve already accomplished more than I ever dreamed of. Now it’s time to help them accomplish their dreams.” Like sliding into a mound?
  • The 2015 Season Preview in Data Visualization (Hardball Times) – Sean Dolinar’s article features all kinds of cool charts, including ones that show projected WAR batter components (avert your eyes from the Padres defense), projected standings changes, and more. There’s also an interactive schedule that shows, e.g., the Padres playing a lot of road games in June and a lot of home games in August. Nifty.
  • Padres banking on Kemp’s upside, motivation (Padres.com) – Former Dodgers scouting director Logan White, now with the Padres, talks about watching Matt Kemp in high school: “Matt hits in the cage for us, and you could see something there. I told him, ‘Don’t tell anyone you talked to Logan White or the Dodgers — or that I worked you out.’ He took it literally. I didn’t mean for him not to tell his mom or dad, but that’s what he did.” Incidentally, here’s a fun scouting report on Kemp from 2003 that compares him to Brian Jordan, another two-sport star who had a nice little career.
  • Visiting the site of Lane Field (Gaslamp Ball) – This is where the PCL Padres played from 1936 to 1958. You could have seen Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr there; or sluggers Max West, Jack Graham, and Deron Johnson; or the late Minnie Miñoso and Al Rosen. And on Tuesday, you could have seen jbox taking some beautiful photos of what looks like a wonderful tribute to an old ballpark that once meant a lot to a lot of San Diegans.
  • The Curious Case Of Sidd Finch (SI.com) – Yeah, this tale of the mysterious pitcher who threw 168 mph and played the French horn is 30 years old but it’s still a classic. George Plimpton, who wrote the piece, is one of my personal heroes. Dude helped found the Paris Review, interviewed Hemingway, was the spokesman for Intellivision (my video game console of choice back in the day–love me some baseball), and once took snaps as quarterback for the Detroit Lions just to write a book. That is serious badassery.

Finally, on the shameless self-promotion front, I worked on a couple of books over the winter that you might dig. I wrote player comments for the Padres chapter of Baseball Prospectus 2015 and edited Futures Guide 2015. Yay me.

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  • Shaqapopolis

    Welcome back!

  • ballybunion

    Excellent links! I’ve already seen two of them, and plan to look at the others. I wasn’t fazed by the Padres’ defensive numbers, though. I think defense is grossly over-weighted, and makes WAR less useful, unless you use strictly offensive WAR. That’s not the number usually reported, though.