Sunday, October 26, 2014

AFL Notes October 22-25, 2014

AFL Notes October 22-25, 2014
It’s been six years since my last trip to the desert to watch the Arizona Fall League so when I had the chance to finally make it down I couldn’t resist.  I was able to watch parts or all of four games and see many talented players who will be Major League contributors.  I didn’t prepare ahead of time to take great notes on players nor was I able to really evaluate many players because I was mainly focused on a select few I found intriguing.  Here are the those notes.

October 22

When I got to the park with my uncle and saw that neither Byron Buxton nor Eddie Rosario were in the lineup I rather zoned out and just enjoyed watching high caliber baseball because there were no players I was dying to see.  One player who stood out on the Salt River Rafters was the first guy out of the bullpen, Brian Ellington.  

Brian Ellington (Marlins): His frame stands out as a lanky right hander standing 6’ 4” and 200 pounds.  Then you see his first pitch and the radar gun says 97.  He had a bit of an issue throwing strikes as the inning got started by walking the leadoff hitter and throwing balls on six of his first seven pitches but after that he settled down.  He had a long, loose arm that acted as a powerful whip to unleash upper 90’s heaters.  He also threw a slider that was in the upper 80’s and some downward tilt and when he stayed on top of the pitch, it looked like something that would generate many swing and misses.

October 23

This was the game I was most excited about.  First, I was able to see the beautiful Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.  The players are very spoiled being able to call that park home.  For a spring training base, it really doesn’t get any better.  

Second, the Rafters’ lineup was filled with players I was excited to see.

Byron Buxton (Twins): Coming off two major injuries I expected to see a Buxton who didn’t look like he was in midseason shape and that’s what I got.  His timing looked a little off but what I saw was a balanced swing that showed his quick hands.  He did lunge for pitches on the outer half of the plate instead of letting them travel a little more but that is just a sign of rust.  One ball he lunged for with two strikes was a slow grounder to short and he showed the speed that leaves scouts drooling as he put pressure on the shortstop who bobbled the ball and even if he had fielded it cleanly would not have had a chance to throw him out.  He did get a fastball in on his hands that he was able to fist into short center for another base hit.  He would come around to score and it was apparent how quick he is on the bases.  Later in the game there was a line drive into left center that looked like a base hit off the bat and he glided over to the baseball and caught it on the run to make it look like a routine play.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Assistant General Manager and VP or Pitching/Position Player Consultation

There is a change in the way Major League Baseball organizations are structuring their front offices.  They are expanding and roles are being redefined and even defined in the case of newly found positions.  

There are three teams who come to mind when I think about the new structures.  The first is the Cubs and how Theo Epstein is now the President of Baseball Operations.  He has the final say on every matter but it is still Jed Hoyer’s job as general manager to assemble the 25-man roster and 40-man roster along with other various aspects. 

The second team I thought about was the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Never in baseball has a person had the position “CBO” or Chief Baseball Officer.  What is that?  I don’t think anybody can clearly define it so why not give the position to Tony LaRussa who is a very respected baseball guy with an intelligent baseball mind.  From the sounds of it, he is in a similar position to Epstein and has final say on all baseball matters.  So after months of observation he fired Kevin “ The Gunslinger” Towers and restructured the organization.  Dave Stewart (player turned pitching coach turned assistant GM turned agent) is now the GM and he is in charge of constructing the major league roster. 

Arizona also hired De Jon Watson as senior vice president of baseball operations.  In an interview during a D-backs game this season he’s basically there to fill in the gaps of where the organization might be lacking.  Remember the game has changed a lot since Stewart was last in a front office so Watson’s experience will come in handy helping him right a very wrong ship in the desert.

The third front office with a new structure is something that doesn’t have to be described much as it has been well documented in the past and that is the Houston Astros.  They created a position called Director of Decision Sciences for Sig Mejdal.  GM Jeff Luhnow is an extremely intelligent baseball man so I’m not going to question him and I don’t think I could do the position any justice by trying to explain it.  

So the five paragraph introduction is basically is to say that I think something interesting could be done in a front office to help a GM with difficult decisions.  Two men would be responsible for filling the positions of “Assistant GM and VP of Pitching Consultation” and “Assistant GM and VP of Position Player Consultation.”

Don’t those just roll of the tongue?