HDWEB: A.J. Burnett, Stephen Drew, Ryan Dempster and their teams will all be OK

In today's HOW DARE WE ENJOY BASEBALL, we're reminded of the importance of spring training stats, why Ryan Dempster's 2014 absence isn't the worst thing ever, how to #BeRoyal, and more! YES!

Good morning HDWEB'ers, it's February 17th and baseball still has the best All Star Game. Here are the very best baseball things to inspire, entertain, enlighten, and amuse.

If you have ideas or suggestions, send 'em my way at @justinbopp.

I have detailed files on human anatomy:

I bet.

A surprising lack of Dempster Fire puns:

Short version:

Long version: Ryan Dempster will not pitch for Red Sox in 2014 - Over the Monster -- Ben explains why, fingers-crossed, this isn't the worst thing in the world:

For the Red Sox, the cost is minimal. They were already well-stocked on starting pitchers, with Dempster likely coming in behind both Brandon Workman and Allen Webster in terms of sheer quality on the depth chart. Roster flexibility issues may have pushed him to the front of the line as the sixth starter for spot-starts, but realistically he was not a big factor in Boston's plans in either the rotation or the bullpen.

Given that, Dempster's departure could actually be good news for the team. This will allow the team to place him on the restricted list, thus freeing them of his $13.25 million salary. It's news they would have preferred to have had back in November, of course.

It's much easier to find a useful allocation for such a large chunk of payroll early in the offseason than it is on February 16. But the Red Sox won't look a gift horse in the mouth, however flawed.

More like S.S.S.pring training:

Two stories told in vastly different ways but have similar conclusions:

  • How much does spring training predict team success? -- Beyond the Box Score looks at the past five years of team spring training records and compares it to regular season success, finding that winning in March has little to do with whether your team plays in October. (shock). As with so many sabermetric exercises, we all kinda knew that but it's interesting to see the data hold up. Also, this nugget: "The Royals are, by a fairly considerable margin, the best team in spring training in the past half decade."
  • The danger of small sample sizes - Lookout Landing -- "At what point can we put our faith in [spring training] statistics?" Never. The answer is never.


  • Cubs Spring-Training Season Tickets: Gorgeous - Bleed Cubbie Blue -- At the risk of outing myself, I've never actually been to spring training. And I didn't know spring training tickets are a thing. As with any niche of baseball love, whether praising stirrup socks or visiting player grave sites, if you're into it, I'm into it. (And Al is right, these tickets are particularly well done).

Be Royal:


  • The Royals rotation in gross hyperbole - Royals Review -- I'm pretty sure Tyler Drenon is a genius. I'm also pretty sure the Royals rotation is going to be an utter disaster.

  • The myriad misspendings of Mr. Moore - MLB Daily Dish -- Josh pushes back on the popular notion that Dr. Evil / David Glass is the biggest problem in Kansas City. Even if Glass wasn't embezzling TV money and keeping revenue sharing for himself, Dayton Moore should still take a large portion of the blame. Simply look at this: Guthrie + Vargas + Chen + Hochevar + Davis + Bonifacio = $30M. Or, a third of the Royals' budget. What was the biggest problem for the club again? The rotation?

Check your head (size):


  • A Brad Miller Question - Lookout Landing -- Matt asks whether Mariners shortstop Brad Miller is bulking up and uses a photo from last year and compares it to one from this year for evidence. The one I've edited in above is from an instagram photo the LL community provided in the comments (one or two weeks ago). I hope it goes without question that I find the exercise dubious, but Matt uses the opportunity to point out that Miller -- with a touch more power -- could be a real gem. I agree, but then again, give any shortstop a touch more power and we're talking about significant value.

This is smart:

Remember, GMs have no real reason to say anything

  • Amaro vs. Optimism - The Good Phight -- I'm just as likely to parse and destroy dumb comments from general managers as anyone (see: GMDM's "I feel like we just won the World Series"), but I try to remember my one and only axiom about GMs that say things: "don't listen to GMs that say things." They have so many audiences they're attempting to target and so few reasons for being truthful. Combine that with being put on the spot and the tendency to bullshit over the years and you just know some dumbass comments will follow. But by all means, get angry. I just prefer to get angry by actions over words. All that said, if Royals and Phillies fans have something in common, it's that they can can get angry over both.

The marketplace is always the enemy of the artist

Obviously, the Rays are a very well-run organization. There are far worse fates than being the Rays, and if the Pirates can string together a bunch of Rays-type seasons (and that's certainly possible, given their talent base), I'm going to have a ton of fun rooting for them.

But the Rays have a tiny margin of error each year. And after a season that featured a big bump in attendance and an influx of national TV money, the Pirates had the opportunity to retain a very good player on a reasonable one-year deal, and they didn't take it.

It sounds like Neal Huntington expected the Pirates to be able to spend that money elsewhere, and they didn't (presumably because, for example, Josh Johnson chose San Diego and James Loney chose Tampa). That's unfortunate, but I see that as less of a problem in itself than the large chunk of payroll argument, which obviously is related, but a little different. If a good player on a reasonable one-year deal is too large a chunk of your payroll, it's the payroll that's the problem, not the player's salary.

There's also the unexplainable fact that the Pirates didn't make Burnett a qualifying offer of $14.1M (regardless of whether or not they thought he was retiring) and then offered him $12M. He signed for $16M. I've heard both sides of this argument -- that you can't blame the Pirates because QOs are set too high and/or they were desperately stupid for not extending the offer when they were willing to spend $17M. I'll stick with my usual qualifying offer take: that Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, and A.J. Burnett are the players most affected by the system this year (and their teams' tough decision of whether or not to make the QO) means that it's probably working.

Believe it or not, even with all the questions surrounding the infield, Drew may not be a correct fit for the Yankees; Johnson needs a right-handed platoon partner, which Drew is not; Jeter is the (almost) everyday man at short; Roberts is penciled in to be everyday second baseman, even if we all know it's a plan doomed to fail.

It's odd, really, to think that someone like Drew, who can hit, play an above average shortstop, is willing to play second or third base, and is willing to take a multi-year deal with an opt-out after the first year wouldn't be a fit, but thanks to how the roster is constructed, the Yankees will stand pat and see what happens in the end.

Being overrated is overrated:

  • Ozzie Smith and Derek Jeter Take Different Paths to Greatness - Viva El Birdos -- This thing from Craig is a fun exercise in exactly why a bottom-line stat like Wins Above Replacement should be used in context. In this instance, Smith and Jeter have similar careers (76ish WAR to 72ish WAR) but they came by them in different ways. Yay. Just please stop telling me Jeter was overrated. Nobody I care about is overrating Jeter's defense. Dude was still one of the best ever to play the game. It obviously doesn't hurt he wore pinstripes for two decades, had one of the most famous plays of all time, and has five (Jesus, FIVE?) World Series rings.

One more thing:

I'm collecting pictures of players with visible tattoos for a secret project I won't tell you about, but here's a hint: it's about tattoos. Please post pics of players with tats, good, bad, terribad, awesome or otherwise in the comments.

122298828Brett Lawrie with a kickass half-sleeve of some Hawaiian flowers or something. Photo: Tom Szczerbowski

Have suggestions or want to be featured in HDWEB? Send links to Justin at @justinbopp and hashtag #HDWEB.

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