Table of Contents

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hamilton, Duran, and a few other links

A few news stories that caught my eye...

The Rangers Heart Josh Hamilton

Let me know when this starts to sound familiar...
But after working with Hamilton this spring, Rudy Jaramillo noted, “This kid is off the charts when it comes to the complete package of talent.”

Manager Ron Washington, a baseball lifer, dealt with some immense talent that came through the A’s system. “For having all the skills, I never saw one like Josh,” he said. “He has all the somethings you are looking for. Now we’ve got to find out what it all means.”

..."I’ve never worked with anyone who can hit a baseball as far as Josh can,” said Jaramillo, “and I’ve had some big bombers along the way. Just nothing like him.”

Rangers catcher Gerald Laird was speaking of Hamilton on Tuesday, and he was stuck for the proper description. “I see him do something, and go, ‘Wow.’ About five times a day, I say, ‘Wow.’”
I'm going to miss Josh. I sure hope that Volquez is able to turn into something, because I have little doubt that we lost something big with Hamilton. Yeah, he's already 27, but he still should have three-four years of outstanding performance left in him if he can stay healthy. Hat tip: BBTF

Reds Shell Out Big Bucks for Dominican Kid

From Baseball America (for free), with a hat tip to Doug:
The international signing period is still four months away, but the Reds have already made a big splash in the Dominican Republic, giving a $2 million signing bonus to 16-year-old outfielder Juan Duran, a player who many thought would not be eligible to sign until July 2.
...
"His body and offensive ability stick out like a sore thumb," Arias said. "In batting practice, he was just hitting them over the trees in our complex, hitting them out to center and right-center field. You can tell just tell from the way the ball jumps off his bat.
"I've never seen a 16-year-old with this type of ability. I talked to some people in the Dominican Republic who crossed paths with Vladimir Guerrero at that age, guys who have been scouting in the Dominican for more than 20 years, and they said they've never come into contact with a bat like this. He's got 80 power potential (on the 20-80 scouting scale) and just gets tremendous loft.
I wrote this at Doug's site:

This strikes me as something the Reds absolutely should be doing. Maybe he’ll never amount to a hill of beans. But $2 million now, given how much scouts like him, gives the Reds a chance at a huge payout 4-5 years down the road. In contrast, they’d only get about a half-win better investing that money into MLB free agents. So bravo Cinci. :)

It also can’t help but be a good thing to make a splash like this for their operations moving forward down there. The Reds have never been a place that signs the top prospects down in the D.R., or anywhere else on the international scene for that matter. Hopefully this will give them a better shot at competing with teams like the Yankees in the international free agent market moving forward…

What changes do you want to see in MLB?

Tango links to an interesting roundtable discussion asking about changes that we'd like to see in baseball. Tango touches on the issue of hooking kids early in his comments about the questions. Two thoughts on that:

1. Too many games, particularly in the playoffs, don't start until much too late at night. How in the world am I going to share the excitement of the postseason with my kid if most games start after her bedtime?

2. I like the idea of trying to reduce the number of pickoff throws, as well as other events (like stepping out of the box) that slow the game down and make it harder to get into as a non-fan. For example, I'd support making a pickoff throw equivalent to a pitchout (i.e. a ball is called) on counts of less than three balls. I also would advocate not permitting hitters to call time out, provided that pitchers were on some kind of clock with respect to how quickly they delivered the pitch.

Bruce vs. Rasmus

John Sickels did a point-by-point comparison of Jay Bruce and the Cardinals' Coby Rasmus on Monday. That outfielder rivalry could be a pretty exciting rivalry to watch in the NL Central, as both are breaking into the big leagues at about the same time.

Bruce won the "smackdown," though not overwhelmingly so. Rasmus seems to have an edge on defense, in particular, which, of course, tends to be underrated...

Help me help you!

Speaking of Jay Bruce, while this is a few weeks old, I found this post regarding his agent to be pretty interesting. I don't know if that was a paid endorsement or not. But I think it's revealing to get this kind of peek into how players interact with their agents in Real Life.

Erardi, Gajus, and Luckhaupt do it again

John Erardi has once again solicited the help of some of the top minds in the Reds fanbase to put together an interesting article (actually, there's about 10 of them, but you can get to them from that link) about the Reds' chances this year. I thought they did a really fine job of it, so I thought I'd pass on my congrats. Unfortunately, the article was literally being put together while I was away interviewing for that job last month, so I couldn't participate. Obviously, they didn't need me! :)

Also interesting was Daugherty's counter article, which has been thoroughly torn to shreds by at FJM (though frankly I couldn't get through their entire mean-spirited rebuttal). Greg Gajus appears on Doc's show tomorrow night, so I'll try to listen via XM Radio...though there's a way in which appearing on that show is kind of like appearing on the O'Reilly Factor.

Daugherty was reasonably respectful to Joel after the last big article, at least when talking to him in person. Given the response to Daugherty's article around the internets, I'm not sure that Gajus is going to be received quite as warmly...