As the 2015 renewal of the hot stove season ends, generic sick many of us will remember it as a tipping point in the assessment of player value: never before have teams embraced the concept that youth will be served. The evolution of analytics, whereby player abilities – offensive and defensive – can be measured and compared – has refined the recruitment game. The Braves, pharmacy Phillies, Reds and Brewers, obvious rebuilding teams, are prospect-focused examples. But even big-spenders like the Dodgers and Yankees are also part of the obsessive youth-oriented trend.
The most youthful member of Team GOP’s presidential playoffs is 44-year-old Florida Senator Marco Rubio. The latest polls have Rubio running third in that contest behind Donald Trump and his only slightly older Senate teammate, Ted Cruz of Texas. But a CNN survey, matching GOP candidates against Hillary Clinton, shows Rubio performing best, beating her by a 49-46 margin. Campaign observers give two main reasons for his vote-getting potential: one, depicting himself as the “candidate of tomorrow,” and 68-year-old Hillary as the “candidate of yesterday”; equally important to scouts is his ease with talking sports on the stump – from Marlins ace Jose Fernandez to former Miam Heat – now Cleveland Cavaliers – hoop star, LeBron James.
Rubio’s working class roots and Latina wife widen his vote-attracting strike zone. He is adept, too, at responding to the many fans’ desire for at least as much non-political pitching as for the wonkish kind. Rubio may be a Fernandez-like ace in that regard.
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Psychological Boost: John Smoltz (on MLB-TV), on what Aroldis Chapman means to the Yankeess: (“Against most teams), he gives them an edge…With him, Dellin Bettances and Andrew Miller in the pen, they can keep their starters fresh, on a six-inning routine.” Smoltz also likes the possibility the three will be used in alternate two-inning stints.
Occupational Boost: Dan Plesac (on the Chapman deal): “The happiest man when he heard was Kenley Jansen. He was about to lose his closer role with the Dodgers when they looked to be getting Chapman.” That was before the domestic violence charge against Chapman, now under MLB investigation. He, and two other offenders, Yasiel Puig and Jose Reyes, faces suspension for indefinite periods.
Doubt: From New York, we hear from Brian Cashman that, “none of the four players traded to the Reds for Chapman was of premium quality.” On MLB-TV last night, a Reds beat reporter said Prez-of-Ops Walt Jocketty was much more sanguine about the potential of the new ex-Yankees. The reporter’s comment: “We kind of doubt it.”
(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)