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Dave Saltzer

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Blog Entries posted by Dave Saltzer

  1. Dave Saltzer
    By David Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer
    To say that 2020 has been a strange year is clearly an understatement. Not only has it dramatically disrupted Major League baseball, but it has all but shutdown Minor League baseball. The long-term effect of that will not be known for years.
    As fans, we know that the Minor Leaguers are our future. Their development is critical to the success of the Angels organization.
    To find out more about how those players who are not part of the limited training program are doing, we recently met online and spoke with William Holmes, the Angels 5th round draft pick in 2018. For William, development is critical, as he is trying to become part of the wave of 2-way players, following in Shohei Ohtani's footsteps.  Drafted out of high school, William has posted a .252/.357/.329 line with 18 walks and 1 HR in 168 PAs and a 5.18 ERA with 38 Ks in 24.1 IP. He's done that all while being one of the youngest players in the leagues in which he played.
    We spoke with William about his goals, how he's progressing, and what he's doing this offseason to continue his development. As a player, he shows plenty of promise with lots of athleticism that should lead to success on both sides of the game. At AngelsWin.com, we believe that as he matures, and improves, he will shoot up our prospect charts over the next couple of years, and is definitely one of our prospects worth getting to know.
    Please click below to watch our interview with William Holmes. 

     
  2. Dave Saltzer

    Should Some Bloggers Be Allowed to Vote for the Hall of Fame?
    By David Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer
     
    With the MLB offseason moving at a glacially slow speed, a lot of time, columns, and commentary has been devoted to which players, if any, might be voted into the Hall of Fame. As of the time this article was written, there are 57 public ballots and 5 anonymous ballots.  There’s even a Hall of Fame vote tracker, where fans can see which players are likely to gain admittance into the Hall of Fame.
     
    Again, as of the time of this article, it appears that 2021 may not produce a single Hall of Fame admittance for a player. With all the public ballots known, representing about 16.4% of the eligible voters, that presents a problem for the Hall of Fame and for Major League Baseball, as the induction ceremony is where baseball has a chance to celebrate and glorify its past and connect it to its present.
     
    Rather than debating the merits of which players deserve enshrinement, I’d like to debate the question of who gets to vote for the Hall of Fame. More specifically, should some baseball bloggers be allowed to vote for the Hall of Fame?
     
    The immediate answer would appear to be “no” to that question. However, with all due respect to those writers that I know who can vote for the Hall of Fame, I’d take issue with that response.
     
    I get it that “any idiot with a keyboard” is a “blogger”. I want to be clear that I’m not at all advocating that all bloggers be allowed to vote for the Hall of Fame. Not all baseball writers are eligible to vote, so I can certainly see some need to create criteria for bloggers who would be eligible to vote.
     
    Since 1936, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) has had the exclusive privilege to vote for those players to gain admission into the Hall of Fame. At that time, that made a lot of sense. Most baseball fans did not “see” most of the games, and instead heard the games over the radio or read about the games in the newspaper. The beat reporters were the ones who saw the players on a daily basis and were in the best position to determine those players who played at a level far above their peers.
     
    However, times change. With cable TV, fans today can watch as many games as the beat reporters. In fact, there are plenty of fans who may watch more games than reporters. More importantly, by watching the games on TV, with multiple commentators, fans will be exposed to multiple opinions about the play of individual players as they hear different broadcasters call the game whereas a beat reporter may only hear the same opinions from reporters on the same beat. The days where the members of the BBWAA serve as the sole or main “eyes” of the game are no longer upon us. Therefore, it is fair to ask if they should be the sole “guardians” of the history, the lore, and the mystique of the game  (I would also argue that radio and TV announcers should also be given a vote for the Hall of Fame along with some bloggers).
     
    More importantly, the Hall of Fame is exactly what the name implies, the Hall of Fame. It is not the Hall of Stats. It is not the Hall of Personality. It is the Hall of Fame. If it were the Hall of Stats, then there wouldn’t be a need for a vote on eligibility for players, as the stats would speak for themselves. And, if it were the Hall of Personality, then several players presently in the Hall of Fame would need to be removed for what we now know about them, whereas others may deserve admission but did not receive it because they were not well liked by the voting members, or held ideological/political views that differed from the voting members.
     
    With all due respect to the members of the BBWAA that I know, while they are all fans of baseball, many of them are not fans of the team that they cover. They may like the team that they cover, but, in many cases, their beat doesn’t encompass their truly favorite team. While this may help them with their coverage for the team(s) that they write about, their experience is not what fuels and funds the game of baseball. It is the fans who do that. It’s truly the fans who determine “fame”, not the writers.
     
    Enshrining a player in Cooperstown essentially asks a question that the voting members of the BBWAA cannot truly answer. Essentially, it asks, which players over a prolonged period of play, were with the price of a ticket. Since the voting members of the BBWAA generally do not pay to attend games, and instead are paid to be at the games, that’s not a question that they can answer. Only fans can truly answer which players were worth paying to see. And, today’s fans are best represented by bloggers, not the BBWAA.
     
    That creates a real problem for the Hall of Fame. Having been there several times, I can tell you with absolute certainty that the overwhelming majority of people who visit it are there to visit and see things about their favorite team and players. One of the most crowded and slowest moving sections of the Hall of Fame is at the beginning, where every team has its locker full of memorabilia specific to that team. Fans stop for long periods to study their favorite team(s)’ lockers before spreading out to see the exhibits on baseball in general. That’s because they want to see the fame and glory for their team. They will stop to look at all displays for their favorite players, most of whom played for their team. They will take pictures with the plaques for their favorite players because that is fame for them. The Hall of Fame doesn’t exist just for the BBWAA; it exists for the fans and is attended by the fans.
     
    If it is truly supposed to be a hall of “fame” then the fans deserve to have a voice in the process of selecting those players enshrined within it. While the members of the BBWAA will have the factual knowledge of the best players of an era, and may recall which players played the most prominent roles in their stories over the seasons, they don’t always share the same passion and feelings towards players like dedicated fans. While they will have written about the plays and wins, it doesn’t always carry the same sting to them as knowing that a certain player is coming in for a homestand did to a diehard fan. Bloggers do know those pains, and are in the best position to represent the interests and beliefs of the fans who fuel the game.
     
    More importantly, in some cases, the members of the BBWAA may at times become too close to the players to always be entirely objective about it. It is easy to see that when players like Ken Griffey Jr. (99.3%), Nolan Ryan (98.8%), Ted Williams (93.4%), Jackie Robinson (77.5%), etc. did not achieve 100 percent of the vote for their admission into the Hall of Fame. It seems quite plausible that in some members of the BBWAA may have been swayed by personality conflicts with players and did not vote for those players or other players simply for reasons other than those that were part of the game. Personality conflicts appears to be the reason why one candidate on this year's ballot may not be enshrined in Cooperstown even though his stats would argue otherwise. Several members of the BBWAA have openly discussed this problem and their difficulty detaching his play on the field from their ideological conflicts with the player.  
     
    Similarly, the members of the BBWAA may be a bit too close to some scandals in baseball, such as the steroid scandal, to truly be the objective and sole voters for the hall of “fame”. To fill in the time for the lack of movement this offseason, many voting members of the BBWAA have appeared on shows such as MLB Now and MLB Tonight to discuss the schism between older voting members and younger voting members when it comes to the steroid scandal. In both cases, though, both the more senior and the more junior writers may not share the same feelings about the steroid scandal as the fans do. In both cases, those members of the BBWAA may not understand the impact that those scandals had on the passion for the game because it was their job to watch and report the game, rather than making the choice to dedicate time and money to following the sport like fans did.
     
    The last point I would make about why some bloggers should be allowed to vote for membership in the Hall of Fame is the recognition of the obviously changing economics of sports coverage. To say that the legacy media is on the ropes is an understatement. The number of baseball writing jobs and positions in newspapers is shrinking annually. Again, with all due respect to the current voting members of the BBWAA that I know, at some people, they may become extinct. There may not be that many writers left who meet the voting eligibility requirements for the Hall of Fame to truly make it or their vote relevant. That would be a serious blow to the sport, the coverage, and the Hall of Fame. It would be far wiser to develop new criteria to reflect the times and realities by letting some bloggers be eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame than to wait for a foreseeable crash to happen and have no plan for how to proceed.
     
    If Major League Baseball truly wanted to capture the younger, more diverse audience, then it needs to adapt with the times. Baseball coverage and thought is not the same as it was in 1936 when the BBWAA became the official voting body of the Hall of Fame. Not only do some bloggers represent a way forward for continued baseball coverage, but they also represent a diversity of opinions. Bloggers are more likely to challenge the orthodoxy on certain viewpoints, such as whether or not a pure DH should be in the Hall of Fame, how to recognize the most outstanding middle relievers, etc. (focusing just on issues concerning Hall of Fame voting). By allowing some bloggers to vote for admission into the Hall of Fame, Major League Baseball will ensure the diversity of opinions continue to matter and will continue to carry the history and legacy of the sport forward.
     
    Again, I want to be clear that I am not advocating for all bloggers to be given a vote. Just as there are eligibility requirements for baseball writers to be eligible to vote, so too should there be eligibility requirements for bloggers. What those eligibility rules should be, and how those rules would be balanced out can be discussed once the idea of allowing some bloggers to be able to vote becomes acceptable and official.
     
    Until then, the question needs to be continuously asked: should some bloggers be allowed to vote for the Hall of Fame?

  3. Dave Saltzer
    I recently came across an internet meme that said "January 1st, 2020: I didn't stay up late that night for all this shit to happen". And the way this year has gone, nothing could be more true.
    The good news is that we have baseball coming back. And, thinking about the baseball season, every year, near the end of June, the Angels do a weekend promotion called "Christmas in June". By that logic, that makes it New Years in July!.
    So, mark tonight down: July 24, 2020. I say we stay up late to celebrate a new New Years Eve to welcome in the baseball season. This year needs a restart and nothing brings everyone together like baseball. Let's get back to posting sick lineups, fantasy trade deals, interesting (possibly worthless) trivia. Game day threads, fan polls, group jokes, etc. Bring it all on. The rest of the year can take care of itself because we have a mad dash to win 60 games!
    Trout has said he's playing. Ohtani and Canning are on the mound. Maddon is at the helm. Our lineup is the strongest it's been in years.
    Let's make tonight the official start to 2020 and our (new) New Years Eve!
    Here's the Joe Maddon's 2020 Opening Day Roster. 

  4. Dave Saltzer
    If Hollywood hired a writer to write the perfect script for a baseball movie, it couldn’t have done better than what actually happened at Angel Stadium on Friday, July 12, 2019.
    To set the stage, the Angels were struggling all season long through July 1st, barely holding onto a .500 record. While on the road in Texas, the Angels awoke to the tragic news that their friend, their teammate, their pitcher, Tyler Skaggs had died of an accidental drug overdose in his hotel room.
    The Angels and Rangers cancelled their game that night, while the team dealt with its grief. The whole team was visibly shaken. Mike Trout tweeted out ““Words cannot express the deep sadness we feel right now. Our thoughts and prayers are with Carli and their families. Remembering him as a great teammate, friend, and person who will forever remain in our hearts… we love you, 45.”
    Overnight, a memorial, built by fans with flowers, hats, letters, pictures, and posters appeared on the pitching mound in front of Angels Stadium. Everyday, the memorial grew while the Angels finished up their road trip leading up to the All-Star Break. At the All-Star Game, both Mike Trout and Tommy La Stella wore #45 jerseys to honor their teammate.
    On Friday, July 12th, the Angels opened a homestand with the Mariners. They honored Tyler by having his mother, Debbie throw out the opening pitch. Standing beside her stood Carli, Tyler’s wife, his brother Garret, and stepfather Dan. A visibly emotional Andrew Heaney and Mike Trout carried out a framed Skaggs #45 jersey while every Angels player wore a #45 Skaggs jersey to honor their friend.
    With the ceremonial 1st pitch, Debbie threw a perfect strike to Andrew Heaney to open the game. Afterwards, she wrote Tyler’s initials on the mound. And then, it was if a guardian angel came down to make this a truly memorial game.
    Taylor Cole opened the game with a 1-2-3 inning. And then, in the bottom of the first, the Angels offense exploded. They scored 7 runs on 7 hits in the first. Mike Trout drove in 4; two on a homerun and 2 more on a double. The blast travelled 454 feet which was Skaggs’ number forwards and backwards.
    After Cole pitched two hitless innings, Felix Peña came on in the third and pitched the rest of the way. The combination of these two, was hardly the predictable duo to pitch what happened that night. Cole, had bounced up and down from AAA all season, and Peña rarely had the stamina or control to pitch deep into games.
    Throughout the emotional crowd, no one wanted to say anything about the magic that was happening before them. In the 6th inning, rookie Matt Thaiss made a spectacular play at 3B, a position he was learning at the Major League level, to record the out.
    In the 9th, with the crowd on its feet, the Angels made two more spectacular plays to save the no-hitter. The first, against Dee Gordon, was a little nubber that Gordon nearly beat out at first. The second was a smash hit to Luis Rengifo at 2B that for a moment seemed to get away from him, but he recovered to record the out.
    After the game, the emotions just poured out on the field. The team came together around the mound and one by one took their jerseys off laid them down on the mound, with Skaggs’ name and #45 pointed up to the sky.
    The symbolism was not lost on the Angels. They knew that they had a guardian angel looking out for them that night, and it showed in many ways. The Angels scored 7 runs in the first, and 13 runs total. Tyler Skaggs was born on 7/13. The combined no hitter was the first combined no hitter in California since 7/13/91—the day that Tyler was born. The Angels collected 13 hits that night. The next day, July 13th, Tyler would have turned 28. The no-hitter that night was the Angels’ 11th no-hitter in franchise history. In high school, Skaggs wore #11.
    The Angels sent jerseys and balls from the no-hitter to the Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown. Someday they will be on display, and fans can see and learn of the magic of this game.
    Dee Gordon, the Mariners player best summed up this game when he said “If you don’t believe in God, you might want to start.” If you were there that night, you know he was right.
    You can watch highlights of this game below.
    --Check out the full Top-50 Greatest Moments in Angels Baseball feature below--
     
  5. Dave Saltzer
    Interview Conducted by David Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer
    Right about now, I'd do anything to hear baseball. Any baseball. While the coronavirus is nothing compared to what previous generations went through with wars, diseases, etc. I would just like some sense of normalcy during these trying times. I am sure I'm not alone in this feeling.
    While this situation is affecting us all, it is affecting us in different ways. For baseball, there are a lot of issues to work through. For the players, the teams, the stadium employees, etc. That includes the broadcasters. 
    To help us all get our fix for baseball, and to get some insights into how the coronavirus is affecting people, I reached out to Victor Rojas to get an update from him and to get his perspective on how this disease is affecting him and the baseball season. What I love about Victor is that he's a straight shooter and calls it how he sees it. I find him to be one of the top announcers in the game who regularly reviews and refines his craft. 
    This is a great interview. You may need to turn the volume up a bit (I found out afterwards that the cable and telephone companies were working on service issues in my area afterwards--I apologize for that). We were scheduled for about 5-10 minutes, and Victor and I talked for nearly 30 minutes. Frankly, I would love for it to go more.
    If, after reading this, you'd like to feel normal by wearing some BigFly gear, you can click here to get some. Right now they are running a 25% off special until MLB plays its first game. While we might not have new baseball games to watch, we can still feel connected to our team and our friends with our gear.
    And, if Victor does come up with something to do to keep baseball fans going, he will let me know, and I will pass along the message.
    Be safe and healthy everyone.
    Victor Rojas Interview March 20 2020.wav
     
  6. Dave Saltzer
    By @Dave Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer
    I’ve read the same articles that you have about the Angels cutting scouts prior to the draft, and frankly, have been rather upset by that decision. I think it’s a bit penny wise and dollar foolish.
    So, I’d like to present an alternative idea that I would implement if I ran the Angels. If it were my team, I’d see this year’s draft as a major opportunity to boost the team for the long term, and not a financial drain and would invest heavily in this year’s draft.
    Throughout this pandemic, I’ve one heard one voice loud and clear. And that was the voice of my dad. His favorite poem was “If” by Rudyard Kipling. For those who are not familiar with it. It starts off with “If you can keep your head, when all about you/Are losing theirs and blaming it on you . . . “
    Throughout the shutdown and recent wave of violence and protest, too many people and leaders have been losing their heads. This is not the time to do so. Wisdom says that when others are in a panic, take a breath and look for clarity as to what to do.
    For the Angels, we should be keeping our eyes on the goal—winning several World Series, especially while we have Mike Trout in his prime. To do that, we need to provide a steady flow of talent to the Major League club from the farm, either directly, or through trades using prospects within our system.
    This year, in order to save money, baseball, has cut the draft to just 5 rounds. In a panic, many owners decided to “save” money by not spending it. However, they have allowed teams to sign an unlimited number of players to a maximum of $20,000 each. These signing bonuses do not count against the amount a team can spend on its official picks during the draft, so, they are like undrafted free agents. A team can sign as many of these players as they wish.
    While on the surface a $20k signing bonus doesn’t sound like a lot of money to woo a player away from college, either as a high school senior or a college junior who can return as a senior, I disagree. I have taught many high school baseball players who eventually were drafted and signed. While all of them had signed letters of intent, most never intended to honor those commitments. And this year, I think many more will not honor their commitments if a team made a legitimate offer as I will outline below. The simple reason for it is that many colleges are not likely to have a fall baseball program, and may not even have a spring baseball program. California public colleges have shutdown their fall sports programs, especially for baseball. The coronavirus has many colleges in flux regarding sports, and it is not at all certain how that will affect player development.
    Athletes have limited shelf lives. Human biology limits the timeline for peak performance. There is no way to regain a lost season or two. Since baseball relies so much on skill development, losing one or two seasons of development could be career ending. And, unlike most other sports, baseball requires team play in order to get the most skill development. Younger athletes, who did not lose out on critical skill development in high school and college will surpass present players who did miss these critical years.
    So, what if Arte went big on this year’s draft. I’m not just talking about our allotted draft picks. What if after drafting our top picks, Arte went on to sign 50-100 players for a maximum signing bonus? What if Arte retained the scouts to identify those players who would be likely to sign for the maximum bonus and had the connections with those players to close the deal? That would cost between $1-2 million dollars, or the amount we won’t be spending on the second round because we lost that pick due to signing Anthony Rendon.
    What if after signing these players, Arte committed to paying them to workout and play in a state that is open, such as Arizona? With most teams not having Minor League teams play, Arte could easily get a large amount of coaches to provide much more focused instruction for those players. He could easily bring in our other Minor Leaguers to continue to develop them. With that many players signed, those players could not only have focused daily drills, but could easily be divided up into teams to scrimmage against each other for in-game experience. Arte could easily spend about $500k to fill out a very robust coaching staff for these players.
    With those kinds of commitments in place, I think that there would be plenty of players who would have to think heavily about signing as an undrafted player with the Angels. Players would have to realize that the real opportunity to grow and develop skills would be much greater than the chance of getting developed next year with the potential for future shutdowns.
    Furthermore, most players will realize that drafts for the next few years will be much more competitive as there will be plenty of undrafted and unsigned players swelling the draft class.
    That means the road to a higher signing bonus will be much more difficult, and more players are likely to get less. All of a sudden, an offer like what I’m proposing looks much more like a good “bird in the hand” over all the uncertainty in the future.
    Finally, any athlete in this year’s pool will have to realize that over the next few years, the drafting philosophy will shift. If MLB returns to a more regular draft in the future (which is not entirely guaranteed, meaning that this year’s draft style could become the “new norm”), most teams will probably overspend on their top five picks on those players who were able to develop and showcase their skills (most likely high school players) and fill out the remaining rounds with underslot bonuses (most likely college seniors who returned for the draft). When looking at that potential, a $20k signing bonus doesn’t look like such a bad deal, especially when coupled with the opportunity to continue to develop this year.
    Having taught many athletes over the years, I am willing to bet that there are plenty who would readily take the guaranteed offer to develop as I have outlined. While we might not be able to sign top-tiered talent, we could easily get plenty of Major League potential players. We could easily land players who don’t project to go in the first five rounds or so, but nonetheless still will make the majors. Every team has plenty of players who fit that bill. Some have even blossomed into stars. And, every team needs a steady flow of players like that every season to fill roles, replace an injured player, or who might blossom into something greater to help sustain them.
    With the present cost for 1 WAR on the free agent market being somewhere around $8 million, the strategy that I’m outlining does not sound at all financially foolish. Let’s say Arte truly went big on the draft and spent an extra $2 million to sign 100 players and an extra $500k on the scouts to find and sign all of that talent. Let’s say the cost to operate the Tempe Stadium, to hire a robust coaching staff, and to pay all the players would be an addition $1.5 million. That would be a total expenditure of $4 million, or about half the cost of 1 WAR. I would easily bet that spending that money would net the Angels more than 1 extra WAR over the long term.
    More important, it would continue our pipeline to develop the players we will need to maintain a championship caliber team. While other players in other organization will lose developmental time, our players would be gaining skills on their peers. The players that we will develop out of such a scenario would be better than their peers from the same time span. They would have more experience and direct coaching. That would give our team a true competitive advantage. And, that’s how teams build championships—taking advantage of the situations that they are given and not losing their heads while all others are.
    Again, I’m under no delusion that Arte will do this. I’ve read the same reports that you have. I just want to pose an alternative scenario to show what I would do to take advantage of the current situation. And, I am writing this to ask what “If” Arte went big on this year’s draft because I believe if he did, he would be like the ending of the poem “If”, and would do a lot to elevate this team to a championship level.
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