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Johanna's View
by Johanna Wagner
Padres Assault Baseball When They Draft Johnny Manziel

As you may have seen, Johnny Manziel was drafted in the 28th round of MLB’s amateur draft by the San Diego Padres.  According to tweets from Padres President Mike Dee, Manziel was the best athlete on the board.  That statement is probably true.

However in choosing the Cleveland Brown quarterback, they insult 1000’s of young men who actually would grind it out as a minor league baseball player for the Padres willingly.  They also insult everyone taken in rounds 29-40.  Manziel will never sign.  He will never play a day of baseball.  He might show up at spring training a couple of times, give some pep talks, but he won’t fill out a roster, and wont be a part of the grind that every other player taken before him and after him will feel.

Now there is value to having a guy like him affiliated with the organization.  But does he need to be drafted?  Can’t you just pay him some sort of fee to come each spring?  Instead, it looked like an attention getting move (and it worked) and it looked self-serving only.

I thought perhaps the Organization was looking to save some money that they could use elsewhere in the draft to sign players.  Josh Byrnes did say to ESPN that they really liked their 27th round pick so maybe some of the money from Manziel’s spot will go towards signing him.

On the face, though, it doesn’t benefit the organization or its Player development program in any way.  Now one can argue that the kid that would be taken first in the 41st round, if there were such a thing, will probably be signed as an undrafted free agent by some team, but that isn’t the point.

The beautiful part of the draft is that baseball is played in all corners of this country, and little boys dream of being picked to play pro-ball.  Not many if any from the 28th round or after will make it to the Major Leagues, but in reality that doesn’t matter.  Playing at any level of the pros is rare, and should be considered an honor and a gift.  The Padres forgot what a gift they had to give.

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Johanna's View
by Johanna Wagner
RIP Don Zimmer

Baseball lost a lot yesterday with the passing of Don Zimmer.  The obits are numerous.  But what to me was quite moving as I was reading through the tweets of players I am paid to follow, is how much this younger generation knew and cared about a man that many grew to know only as the Yankees bench coach and Derek Jeters lucky totem.  Zimmer was much more than that through his 60+ years on the field.  He was the last Brooklyn Dodgers still donning a uniform.  One tweet put out said, “he met Babe Ruth, played with Jackie Robinson, coached Derek Jeter and tried to fight Pedro Martinez.” That is quite a life, even if that last one was not one of his proudest moments.

Here is a link to Bill Madden’s fine obit.

I have a photo of me doing an interview on a Rays field with Zim in the back.  Hope I can find it to add to this post.

RIP Mr. Zimmer.  You will be missed.

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Johanna's View
by Johanna Wagner
Quality at Bats

Quality at-bats is not a term you ever hear outside of baseball.  There are others, but it is a term that rules minor league baseball.  It could be the single most important “stat” that a minor league hitter is evaluated by.

What is it?  A Quality at-bat or QAB is an at bat where the ball is put in play with a solid swing.  It can involve seeing a lot of pitches, and working the count.  It does not end in a strikeout, or a weak ground ball to an infielder.  It could be a hard hit ball right at an infielder- but when hit, it requires that the infielder be positioned correctly, or be required to execute his job perfectly to get the out.  In some organizations, not all, your percentage of quality at bats must be at certain level before you can be promoted to the next level.  Batting average doesn’t matter, to a large degree.

A QAB, in theory,  is a pure metric. In theory, you can have a QAB against a bad pitcher and a good one.  The defense you are playing against could determine if you have  hit or not. A QAB doesn’t even register defense because after the ball is hit, what has to be measured has been measured.

It does not take into account the situation; there are other metrics for that.  But it is what a hitter does with the ball the matters for this, and that is important in determining development and preparedness for the next level of pro ball.

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Johanna's View
by Johanna Wagner
Throwing Bats and Having Fits

Braves infielder Chris Johnson has a bad habit of getting too upset after a bad at-bat.  Now, I was always a fan of Paul O’Neill’s tantrums, but the reality is generally they tend to show a lack of emotional control.  O’Neill’s were also a little more focused, usually on a gatorade cooler, than some others.

Johnson came into the dugout on Friday and started having a fit.  He busted up his bat and shards of the bat went flying, hitting teammates and Manager Fredi Gonzalez.  Not good. Gonzalez removed him from the game.

In addition, Gonzalez refused to answer questions regarding in the incident, instead insisting that Johnson would answer any questions regarding the incident.

Johnson, as seen in this piece by Mark Bowman, does a great job at taking responsibilty, and acknowledging exactly what this weakness in his game means to him and his team.  He answers all the questions.  And he acknowledges what it means to his teammates.  Its a great moment.

Additionally, if you scroll down to the last note in the Mark Bowman piece, you will read a very funny story about Chipper Jones as told by Javy Lopez.

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Johanna's View
by Johanna Wagner
Matt Harvey and Speaking the Truth

Matt Harvey is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and yesterday Tom Verducci wrote about a recent conversation with him.  Harvey wants to return this year, an admirable goal.  The typical recovery time for this kind of surgery is 11 and a half months, which might give him one start in September- if everything falls perfectly.

But Harvey wants back in August.  He won’t go against orders to do so, but his answer to Verducci’s question about why that is important is beautiful.

“I just want the peace of mind,” he said. “I want to go back out there and know I still have the stuff to strike out major league hitters. And I want to know that when I shut it down at the end of the year, I’m just like everybody else shutting it down. I don’t want to go through all this work and wonder all winter where I am. I want to be just like everybody else when this season ends and the next one starts.”

Its an honest answer.  It tells you just how much Harvey thinks about the future, and is concerned about the routine.  It isn’t about the team, per se, it is about himself.
Many guys might have said he wanted to get back to help his team.  That isn’t true- and honestly, to help his team the most long-term, he needs to take care of himself.  And since the team is unlikely to be in contention in August, he is thinking about the best way to help himself be ready to help his team in 2015.  Its not what Verducci thought he was going to get- and that is part of why we ever are hearing about this conversation. Good Stuff.
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