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Saturday Notebook: 8-U Double Play, Abusing The Waiver Wire, Twins & Sabermetrics, and Blackouts

Today's first edition of the newly branded Saturday Notebook takes a look at Desmond Jennings' 8-unassisted double play from last Saturday, the Blue Jays abusing the waiver wire and if it's negatively impacting the game, the Twins revealing a little of their sabermetric side, and why blackouts exist for some parts of the country.

J. Meric

Good morning, all. Today is our very first edition of the new Saturday Notebook. Remember, this is the exact same as my weekly Breakfast & Baseball posts in the past, but with a new name. If this change is too much for you to handle, you may be in for a shock when our DVD players are officially replaced by Blu-Ray.

It's a welcome sight that the weather is finally warming up. I was at Thursday night's game with my fiance, courtesy of winning John Bonnes' season tickets in a Twins Daily raffle a few weekends ago, and it was certainly chilly as the sun set. A nice deal is that I was able to exchange a driver's license for a blanket so the two of us could stay a little warmer as the temp. dipped into the 40s. But, now that we remember what 70 degrees feels like, those blankets may not be necessary for a while.

  • If you've ever played Twingo at a Twins game, you know how hard it can be sometimes. If you happen to have catcher's interference or a 8-2 putout (center field to catcher), you know your chance of winning is basically shot. Well, last Saturday Desmond Jennings of the Tampa Bay Rays achieved a play that I think has never appeared on a Twingo card, and that was the 8-unassisted double play. With one out and Athletics second baseman Eric Sogard on first, batter Coco Crisp lifted a short fly ball to center field. Sogard misread the ball and scampered over to third base before realizing that Jennings had caught the ball. With Sogard making no attempt to return to first base, Jennings was able to continue jogging back into the infield to complete the double play. Click the link above to see a GIF of the play.
  • I've played the MLB: The Show franchise for every year of its existence, and even though the computer simulates the offseason for opposing teams, I always try to start a new season in franchise mode before the latest version of the game hits stores. This past season with 2012, I simmed the offseason and then attempted to fix all the rosters before learning that I couldn't even touch the Blue Jays roster because they had too many pitchers in their organization. I thought it was the game being absurd, but this article from MLB Trade Rumors put everything into a little more perspective. When it comes to the waiver wire, the Twins are a fairly quiet team. The Jays, on the other hand, are that annoying person in your fantasy league that wheels and deals everyone. In the past calendar year, the Jays have made 22 successful waiver claims, and the second-highest is the Yankees with a mere 14 (the Twins were tied at 14th with 3 claims). This made Charlie Wilmoth of MLBTR ask if the Blue Jays were abusing the waivers system. They would often claim a player, keep him around for a week or less, and then designate him for assignment while bringing in a new player. Wilmoth argued that this unfairly puts the waived player in limbo as he waits to learn if he's going to Triple-A or if he'll join a new organization. However, and this part I agree with even more, this also allows the Blue Jays to cheaply improve their organizational depth and their Triple-A roster at the same time. What they are doing is completely within the rules, and I feel that even this can be considered as taking advantage of the system, I feel that it's an advantage that can and should be exploited. In fact, I wouldn't be opposed if the Twins did the same, as the team often seems too locked into keeping their 25th man on the roster when the truth is that this player can often be upgraded for nothing.
  • This next article echoes a lot of what I've already learned. Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press interviewed Twins GM Terry Ryan about sabermetrics, and he also got a little info from the "stats guy" in the organization, whose name is Jack Goin. I am a huge fan of sabermetrics and my dream job would be to work for the Twins in that capacity, but from email correspondence from Goin and a meeting with president Dave St. Peter prior to last season, I learned that the team was not interested in expanding that department. I did learn (and again, this article echoes it) that the team holds what it considers to be advantages close to the vest, and they are not comfortable with sharing what they use for fear of other teams copying them. In fact, in the St. Peter meeting, he specifically mentioned that they didn't want to be like Billy Beane in Moneyball, which I find interesting because Berardino's article says that the Twins were first approached by Moneyball author Michael Lewis before settling on the Athletics. It's an interested read in that we learn that the Twins do voyage into sabermetrics more than we often give credit, but it still seems like they're merely dipping their toes into the water.
  • If you live in North Carolina or Iowa, you are well aware of the ridiculous blackouts imposed by the cable companies and MLB. For example, in Iowa you can't watch the Twins on MLB.TV because you are supposed to watch them via the cable provider... except said cable provider doesn't carry FSN anyway. Grantland's Shane Ryan writes about the North Carolina blackout, and lays out why MLB, the cable companies, and the TV network all stand to lose big if they lift the blackout. I used to think the blackouts were a quick fix, but after reading Ryan's work, the reasons why these blackouts exist makes a whole lot more sense to me. I still don't fully agree with it, but it definitely is now more understandable.
  • Finally, continue the "quick hits" that I started last week, Mariners minor league OF/DH Eric Thames means business.