About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

Does ESPN exploit Little Leaguers?

For starters, it’s obviously not true that ESPN directly exploits the players, because the players don’t work for ESPN. Think of Monday Night Football for example. Professional football players play a game broadcast by ESPN, but ESPN doesn’t pay them for it. Instead, ESPN pays the NFL for the rights to broadcast their sanctioned event, and the NFL then pays their labor themselves. From ESPN’s standpoint, the Little League World Series works exactly the same way, and there’s obviously no reason ESPN should be paying the players directly.

So the question then is whether the arrangement is indirectly exploitative, so we have to ask ourselves if Little League baseball is exploiting its players. Suffice it to say, I think that’s a pretty hard case to make, for two main reasons.

First of all, playing Little League baseball is not employment, it’s a child’s recreational activity. In fact, you actually have to pay Little League money in exchange for being allowed to play, so obviously construing this as labor is a pretty silly thing to do.… Click here to read the rest

A word on the Yankees’ draft strategy

Well guess what; he signed a contract yesterday. The Pittsburgh Pirates, of all teams, decided to take the risk of selecting Bell with the first pick in the 2nd round, and then ponied up a signing bonus commensurate with Bell’s talent and convinced him to forgo college. It’s a heck of a coup for Pittsburgh, especially after they drafted Gerritt Cole first overall. Their system is probably as good right now as it has been at anytime in my memory, a true reversal of fortune for the Pirates.

But the fact that Bell signed only deepens my confusion at the way the Yankees have chosen to draft recently. The Yankees could have easily afforded Bell’s price given that, well, they’re the New York Yankees. In my opinion, that’s the advantage they should really be pressing, and should gobble up as much talent that falls to them for financial reasons as possible. In the worst case scenario, they don’t get the player signed, they aren’t out any money, and they get a compensation pick in the next draft for their trouble.… Click here to read the rest

Excuse me, who needs to “smoke the objective pipe?”

Let’s break this sad delusion down, shall we?

When it comes to A.J. Burnett, Brian Cashman encourages everyone to “smoke the objective pipe.”

In the eyes of many, Burnett (8-9, 4.60 ERA) hasn’t pitched well  enough to keep his spot in the rotation. But Cashman sees things a bit  differently. He thinks everything has been overblown.

“I encourage everybody to just break it down,” Cashman said. “Break  it down. Compare him to other people. Look at his start-by-start. Look  at his run support. If you smoke the objective pipe, I think the  coverage on him would be a little smoother, more accurate.”

Well, okay, I can do that. I don’t really feel like trying to put all of the relevant information into one single table right now, but here’s the 2011 game logs for Burnett, Phil Hughes, and Ivan Nova if you want to look through them. And the basic picture they paint is a pretty obvious one; Burnett might not be drastically worse than Nova or Hughes, but based on results, he’s clearly been the weakest of the three, so if you want to winnow your rotation to your five best starters right now, A.J.… Click here to read the rest

Burnett again shows that Hughes is the better pitcher

Any other time this wouldn’t be much of a big deal at all, especially coming from a team’s 5th best starter. But, of course, the Yankees have six starters at the moment, and Burnett is supposedly in a battle with Phil Hughes for that job, a battle most people expect Burnett to “win.” And Monday night merely showed again why that would be a terrible decision by the Yankees.

I’ve already written about this many times before, so after one more start from both Hughes and Burnett, let’s just summarize the reasons Hughes should remain in the rotation, and A.J. should not, at least for now.

Hughes is the better pitcher: This is probably the big one, and I don’t think it’s really arguable at this point. Hughes hasn’t been dominant since returning from the disabled list, and he’s had some peripherals that are a reason for concern, but he’s been generally solid from a results standpoint, and he’s gotten better the more he pitches.… Click here to read the rest

No really, winning the division is meaningless

And that’s the basic gist of the column: 2010 was bad because the Yankees didn’t try to win the division, even though they came really close to doing it anyway, and then swept the Twins out of the ALDS while the division champion lost to the Rangers, failing to win even a single game at The Trop. The Yankees then went on to lose the ALCS, of course, but they posted identical 1-2 marks in the series in both Texas and New York, so there’s no real evidence the supposed lack of competitive fire in September hurt them in any measurable way.

Though I suppose the real meat behind the theory lies in what Derek Jeter said about the matter:

“Ideally, you’d like as many games as possible here,” Jeter said. “You love to play at home, but if you are going to win you are going to have to play well on the road, too.

“I don’t want to be on a team with someone saying, ‘Well, we finished second, that’s all right,’ ” Jeter added.Click here to read the rest

Bruce Bochy a wizard no more

This season? Not so much. This year, the most visible of Bochy’s decisions has been to continue to stick with Aubrey Huff and his .249/.303/.381 performance over top prospect Brandon Belt at first base. Despite Belt making the team out of Spring Training (when the plan was to have Huff play in the outfield, something he quickly showed he was unable to do), Belt has just 94 plate appearances in the majors this year, hitting .218/.322/.333. That’s not good, obviously, but it’s hard to expect much better from a rookie getting only sporadic playing time. By contrast, in 212 Triple-A plate appearances this year, he’s a .309/.448/.527 hitter and his career minor league line is a very robust .343/.457/.596. So the bat is definitely there, it’s just a matter of getting him regular playing time to get his feet under him at the next level.

But alas, Huff is a veteran, he was a part of a World Series winning team, he wore a thong for awhile, and everyone basically likes him on a personal level, so even though he turned 34 almost immediately after his career season last year, his manager is sticking with his veteran, at the expense of a more talented youngster.… Click here to read the rest