David's Blog

On this page, I'll share my thoughts, and any articles or information I think are of interest.  Feel free to use the comments section to join in the discussion!

“You can’t waste time; you need to attack earlier.”



Denard Span has made changes since breaking into the big-leagues with the Twins in 2008. His stance and mechanics aren’t the same, and his 32-year-old body doesn’t feel as fresh as it once did. He’s also changed addresses, going from Minnesota to Washington and now San Francisco.

Span feels the men standing sixty feet, six inches away from home plate have changed as well. As a result, he’s needed to adjust his approach.

“There’s more velocity now than when I first came up,” said Span. “And everybody is throwing cutters, so the ball is moving more. You don’t want to get to two strikes against a lot of these pitchers. because they’ll put you away. For them, one strike is like two strikes. You can’t waste time; you need to attack earlier.”

Span feels pitchers are coming after him more aggressively than they once did. The reasons are twofold.

“Teams started to realize I was taking pitches, trying to get on base any way I could, and I began finding myself down 0-2 right off the bat,” explained Span. “I also go deep 5-6-7 times a year, so pitchers are more apt to challenge me. Worst case scenario is a double or a triple.”

He does hit a lot of doubles. Span had an injury-plagued 2015, but from 2012-2014 he averaged 35 two-baggers per season. While he’s not a home-run threat, he’s also not the slap hitter the Twins once envisioned he’d be.

“I have driven the ball more the past three, four seasons,” said Span. “It’s just not over-the-fence more.”



"his family and friends spent $1.6 million of his money"


Trent Richardson says family, friends spent $1.6M of his money in 10-month span


Eric Edholm

Shutdown Corner

Aug 5, 2016, 11:52 AM

Just days after he was released by the Baltimore Ravens in what could be an NFL career-ending transaction comes more sad news with Trent Richardson.

The former No. 3 overall pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2012 told ESPN’s Shelley Smith on “E:60” that his family and friends spent $1.6 million of his money in a period between January 2015 and October in 2015.

During that time, Richardson was cut by the Indianapolis Colts and later by the Oakland Raiders. He discovered that people were using his name to open accounts with Netflix (11 of them) and Hulu (eight) and even order bottle service by dropping his name at clubs, even though Richardson doesn’t drink.

“I finally just looked at my bank statement, and I was just like, ‘Where did this come from? Where did that come from?'” Richardson said. “And my guy was sitting there telling me, ‘Man, we was telling you.’ I know he was telling me, but that’s just like telling a kid to stop running in the hall. They’re going to still do it when you turn your back or you leave.

“It’s just one of them moments to where I was just blinded by my heart, by loving everybody and thinking that everyone was for me. I know they love me. I know they do care. But at the time, they took advantage of it.”

Richardson signed a fully-guaranteed deal worth $20.5 million over four years with the Browns in July 2012. He told ESPN that he isn’t broke and can support his immediate family but has shaved off some major costs, such as removing his brother, Terrell, as Richardson’s $100,000-a-year personal assistant.

“He’s such a good guy,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “He’s such a good person, and he wants to please everyone. And I think sometimes when guys have that personality, which is a great personality to have, it makes it very difficult to disappoint anyone with the word ‘No.'”

Richardson made bold claims when he came out of Bama, saying he sought to be “the most dominant player of all time” and later that he wanted to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame — after he had been traded once and released twice. Although he lost weight this offseason with the Ravens, injuries caught up to him and he was let go.

Credit Richardson for cutting out some of the leeches in his life, especially at a time when he shouldn’t be expecting any new NFL money coming in anytime soon.



"Looking back, it's one of those things that it's a blessing and a curse, it really is," 




Mark Appel has advice for Phillies' No. 1 overall pick

May 9, 2016, 9:45 am

By Corey Seidman

Most of the players projected as candidates for the Phillies to draft first overall this June are pitchers. Plenty of hype, scrutiny and expectations come along with being selected first overall in any sport, but it's a unique thing for a starting pitcher who can prove himself just once every five days.

It will be a lot of pressure for a player between 18 and 22 years old, but a former No. 1 pick new to the Phils' organization will have some words of advice for whomever they take in June.

"Looking back, it's one of those things that it's a blessing and a curse, it really is," Mark Appel said in a Phillies Clubhouse interview that airs tonight at 6:30 on Comcast SportsNet.

"Whoever the Phillies take first overall, hopefully I'll be able to meet him and share some of the things that I struggled with and failed at to make him a better player and hopefully see him realize the potential that he has."

It's taken a while for Appel to develop and he still hasn't realized his potential. It's why he was available this winter and the Phils were able to acquire him in the Ken Giles trade with Houston. The 6-foot-5 right-hander entered this season with a 5.12 ERA in 253 innings in the Astros' system. He struggled with command and was hit around at pretty much every level. The fact that Kris Bryant was taken second overall that year has only made the criticism louder and the road tougher for Appel, now 24.

"Obviously, you're paid well and you're afforded opportunities that you wouldn't have otherwise. But at the same time, there's this level of expectation and pressure that goes along with it," Appel said. "And that's kind of hard to explain to the average person. I think everybody has expectations and pressures in their own life, but first overall pick is a little bit unique. The public nature of it is unique, and so there's a lot that goes into it."

There have been many star players taken first overall but also some busts. Dating back to 2000, there have been standouts at No. 1 like Carlos Correa, Gerrit Cole, Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, David Price, Justin Upton, Joe Mauer and Adrian Gonzalez. But there have also been disappointments like Tim Beckham, Luke Hochevar, Matt Bush and Bryan Bullington. Beckham and Hochevar have become OK major-league players, but if you're drafted first overall and don't become an integral piece of a team, the pick is typically seen as a failure.

As for Appel, he's gotten off to a better start this season at Triple A Lehigh Valley. Even after giving up five runs in five innings on Thursday, he's 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA through five starts. He's still allowed far too many baserunners — 39 in 27 innings — but so far he's been able to get outs when he's needed them. He's not completely out of the woods, though, because any pitcher is walking a tightrope when he's putting nearly 1½ men on base per inning.

But either way, Appel says he genuinely feels more comfortable, more at ease at this point. He's not second-guessing himself and killing himself mentally every time he has a bad inning.

"If I had to go back and do it all over again, just taking pressure off myself and just not taking everything so seriously," Appel said of what he'd do differently. "Just realizing the reason I was [drafted] where I was is because of who I was and what I had done in college (at Stanford). And I don't need to try to be anyone else or be extra special or perfect every time out. Just be the player that I was. That's what I'm trying to do this year."

Appel's teammate and roommate, Zach Eflin, says he's already seen differences in Appel's repertoire and demeanor on the mound.

"I've seen him in the past years and he just looks different," Eflin said. "He looks like he's not scared to challenge a hitter."



“I think sometimes scouts get too caught up in trying to know every single thing about you.”




Ryan January, who was drafted in the eighth round by the Arizona Diamondbacks this year, is adamant that he’s not a bad apple. The 19-year-old catcher cut his baseball teeth in the prestigious East Cobb program, then ended up spending a year at San Jacinto Junior College after being bypassed in the 2015 draft. The experience left him shaking his head.

“There was speculation that I got dismissed from my prep school in Salisbury (Connecticut),” said January. ”I’ve since gone back and gotten a letter signed by the dean, saying that I left on my own in good standing. I was also able to straighten out any questions about my character with a good year at San Jacinto. I was able to show some scouts who I really am.”

Jason Groome, who the Red Sox drafted 12th overall this year, faced character questions as well. A transfer issue of his own — the New Jersey native spent time at IMG Academy in Florida — raised a few eyebrows. January isn’t buying it.

“I know Jason personally and he’s a great kid,” January told me. “I think sometimes scouts get too caught up in trying to know every single thing about you. In my case, there was really no need to dig that deep, because they were digging into nothing. There wasn’t anything there. It didn’t hurt Jason — he went in the first round — but it did hurt me. Scouts need to do their homework better.”

By and large, the scouting community doesn’t see it that way. I spoke to scouts from two organizations, and while they wouldn’t go into specifics, both confirmed the industry concerns. One team January going anywhere from the 7th to the 15th round out of high school based on talent alone. Speculation had Groome going first overall before industry scuttlebutt caused him to drop out of the top 10



“Injuries change everything”






Volume of Tommy John surgeries begs some questions

May 8, 2016 by Peter Gammons 


When the news came that Garrett Richards needed Tommy John Surgery, the reality hit the Angels that they were in a place from which they may not be able to escape. Andrew Heaney was already on the disabled list, C.J. Wilson trying to come back from surgery, Tyler Skaggs trying to come back, Matt Shoemaker was still in the minor leagues, and what Mike Scioscia is left with is the soul of Jered WeaverHector SantiagoNick Tropeano and Cory Rasmus.

This happens in a division where Oakland has already lost Jarrod Parker to a broken elbow and Chris Bassitt to Tommy Johns while awaiting the return of Henderson Alvarez. And the Rangers are monitoring the rehab starts of Yu Darvish and the Astros hope Lance McCullersreturns next weekend in Boston.

In a game in which 45 starters and 65 relievers had been disabled in the first month of the season.

“Injuries are one of the biggest factors in every pennant race in every season,” says Billy Beane. “Two major pitching injuries and even the best teams become completely different. It can happen to anyone.”

Even the Cubs. They may well be the best team in the game, a team one American League general manager predicts “will win 115 games.” This week they were without Jason HeywardMiguel Montero and Kyle Schwarber, and swept the Pirates in Pittsburgh. But if all of a sudden Jake Arrieta went down, it would be a totally different team. Or Jon Lester. There is no replacing Arrieta, just as, to a less talented team, there is no way the Angels can replace Richards, considered a strong Cy Young contender in spring training.

Now, we’ve realized this for most of our lives. Ted Williams swore the best lefthanded pitcher he ever faced was Herb Score, whose career was cut short by a line drive. The 1984 Cubs won 96 games and were a game away from the world series; in 1985, Rick Sutcliffe,Dennis EckersleySteve Trout and most of the rotation was on the DL before June 1, and they finished 77-84. The 1986 Mets were 108-54 and won the world series, with Doc GoodenRon DarlingBobby Ojeda and Sid Fernandez starting 94 games; in 1987, each one of the four got hurt and they won 87 games.

But that was a while ago, before velocity and showcases became the sport’s proving ground. From 2002 to 2011, the volume of Tommy John Surgeries in the state of New York increased 193%, and this season we’ve already looked at the Dodgers disabling 13 players, the Rockies 11, the Reds 9, Tigers 8…

Then think about the cost of acquiring pitching. The Diamondbacks spent $200M on Zack Greinke and three top prospects on Miller. Then think about how much of the eventual problems come from the teenage and college development programs. In teenage pitchers, in what Mike Reinold calls “the velocity era of pitching development,” teenagers are judged on the showcase circuit by gun readings, not competitive victories. According to an ASMI study, pitching more than eight months increases the likelihood of injury five times, averaging more than 100 innings a year increases the likelihood of injury three times, averaging more than 80 pitches an outing increases the injury likelihood five times. And the velocity increases increase the likelihood of injury by 2.6 times.

Which begs the question: if owners don’t like the cost of injured pitchers and their replacements, why doesn’t MLB study the developmental process from the bottom up?

“Sometimes we rush the college relievers through because we don’t know how long the window of health will stay open,” says one general manager. “It’s something we live with.” Another manager says, “most teams will try to manage their starters to keep them around for years because of their cost. But look at some of the reliever usage, and you see that they use one reliever after another from the sixth inning on and worry about whether they’ll be around the next year when the season is over.” A study on MikeReinhold.com theorizes that the quest for velocity may increase the injury possibility, which is a little scary since two of the top high school pitchers that may go in the first 5-6 picks, Riley Pint out of Kansas and Jason Groome from New Jersey, already touch 100 MPH.

The development in elbow surgery and rehab has caused teams to be willing to spend first round. In 2014, Toronto took East Carolina’s Hoffman in the first round. Last summer, they were able to trade him for Troy Tulowitzki. The Nationals drafted Lucas Giolito and Erick Fedde with first round picks after TJ Surgery, and they may be Washington’s two best pitching prospects. When Houston drafted Brady Aiken with the first pick in the draft in 2014, he didn’t pass their physical, eventually had surgery and was taken in 2015 by Cleveland.

This year several teams felt Stanford’s Cal Quantrill was the best college pitcher in the country. He too ended up having a Tommy John, but knowing the toughness and ferocity of his father Paul, Cal likely will be a first round selection even though he has yet to pitch in a game.

What we don’t know is how long the new elbows will last. “Doctors told us that once a young pitcher gets TJ, he likely will require it again within seven years,” says one NL GM. “So if he gets the surgery at 20, just as he is entering his prime at 27 or 28 he may be entering another danger zone.”

People can criticize Scott Boras for his hands-on work with teams with his pitching clients coming off injuries, but the process coming off those injuries and surgeries is vital. Is part ofMatt Harvey’s struggle this season due to his 2015 work load, a season in which he pitched for seven months and threw 216 2/3 innings, the last 26 2/3 in high leverage games? He’s human. He will be fine. So will Jacob deGrom, also coming off a career high workload. They will be bringing Zack Wheeler back.

Boras often talks with considerable remorse the career of his client Steve Avery, a major part of the Braves’ boom in the early nineties who went way beyond 200 innings in his early twenties and lost his velocity by 26. Boras is working with the Marlins on the post TJ -load for Jose Fernandez, and Don Mattingly is closely monitoring the innings of his number two starter, Adam Conley, so that if the Marlins have a shot at a post-season birth in September, they don’t have to sit, a la Stephen Strasburg.

On the other hand, the Pirates have been exceptionally conservative with former number one pick Jameson Taillon, who had Tommy John in 2015, then when he was ready to open last season, he had season-ending hernia surgery. Taillon is pitching brilliantly in triple-A, but the Pirates won’t rush him, mixing the need for Taillon and Tyler Glasnow this season with their longterm health.

“Earlier this season, we had people saying and writing that we had clubhouse issues, that players didn’t want to play for us,” says Nationals GM Mike Rizzo. “Yes, we were picked by many to win last year and it didn’t happen. But for the first month of the season, we were without four of the first five hitters in our order. Jayson WerthAnthony RendonRyan Zimmerman and Denard Span were all hurt. We didn’t have our team together for most of the season.”

We are at the point of the season where we have to see where Harvey, deGrom, Matt Cain,Corey KluberCarlos CarrascoAdam Wainwright, Fernandez, et al are going to be over the long haul.

The best baseball book of this year is Jeff Passan’s “The Arm,” a book which, with the plague of injuries affecting pennant races and club profit margins, should be the textbook for moving an important issue in the sport forward.

The Angels would probably agree. So would Beane, if something happened to Sonny Gray. Or John Henry, if something turned out to be wrong with David Price.

Some of us want serious injury prevention because we love watching Clayton Kershaw, Arrieta, Price, Max Scherzer, Harvey and other extraordinary pitchers work. We care about them not as fantasy league tools, but as people.

Owners understandably care about their investments, and what can happened to a team with a $160M payroll if the best pitcher blows out and misses what could amount to two seasons.

I don’t know what the Angels would have been if Richards put up a Cy Young season, but I do not know what they will be without him either. Injuries change everything, and everyone in the business should be working together to see how pitchers are developed from the age of 12, and why so many break down as they enter their primes.



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