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The Sunday Shortly Before Spring Training Starts Open Thread

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MLB: OCT 01 Brewers at Cardinals Photo by Jimmy Simmons/Icon Sportwire

Yes, I know; there’s a football game going on today. I will watch it, because it is a social obligation as much as a sporting event these days, but I actually do have a rooting interest in this particular Big Game, as every bar, restaurant, and basically all other companies are required to call it, seeing as how my friend Gregg from New York is a lifelong Eagles fan.

Funny story: a couple days ago, I received an email from L’Occitane en Provence, a very nice cosmetics store from which I have purchased numerous gifts over the years. Said email was offering me some sort of discount or sale on items to coincide with the Big Game, which I found curious. Here is the absolute Frenchest company I can imagine, manufacturers of fine handmade cosmetics, advertising their wares to coincide with America’s giant secular football holiday. Capitalism is weird.

Anyhow, while this is Super Bowl Sunday for a lot of people, for me it’s just another milestone on the sports calendar marching back toward baseball. The Super Bowl is the last major sporting event prior to pitchers and catchers reporting, and when it’s over we can all turn our attention fully to the last couple weeks of the countdown.

Seeing as how I’m unsure of how much traffic we’re going to have today, though, I’m not going to do anything too terribly in-depth. However, I do have a couple questions for people out there in the community.

First: are there any prospects that haven’t been covered yet, either by myself, Josey, or ebo, that any of you are particularly curious about? I tried to go deep enough between the list, the just-missed guys, and some supplemental reports that I think I’ve gotten most of the notable names covered, but if there are any players you’re especially interested in please leave them in the comments and I’ll try to get them written up, at least in passing. I mean to ask this every year, to see if there are players people want to hear about that I miss, but I don’t usually remember to do so.

Second, I received an email recently from a reader who was interested in seeing some analytically-based writing on the coaching changes the Cards have made this offseason. I think it’s a good idea, and I plan to put together a column on the coaching staff in the near future, probably this week sometime. The only problem is I really have no good idea how to try and actually quantify coaching contributions beyond guesswork, so I was wondering if anyone here has any ideas on how to go about trying to quantify what sort of value a coach might add. I’m going to try and go back sometime during the season and check on some of the Cardinal pitchers, Carlos Martinez in particular, to see if their approaches have changed at all under Mike Maddux (pitch mix, location, etc.), and then try to figure out if the changes have been positive or negative, but in the meantime I’m really struggling to think of some framework to try and judge what quantifiable value we might be able to attribute to the coaching staff. Thanks in advance if anyone has any brilliant insights.

Finally, I would like to put it to everyone here that we really need to come up with a name for the hypothetical Andrew Miller type relievers which have become so prevalent (at least theoretically), in baseball the last couple years. You know the type; middle innings, super high leverage, not the closer but the guy you most want on the mound when things are getting really scary.

They’re all being called Andrew Miller types at the moment, but that’s clumsy. Also dumb. So I would really like for the VEB hive mind to get together and agree on a name we can use for these relievers. Fireman is probably the traditional name, and I mostly like that, to be honest. We have plenty of other potential names, though. I think Scott Boras coined the term “HeLP reliever”, for High Leverage Pitcher, but eh. I would probably be more inclined to like Scott Boras’s suggestions if he made them wearing a jacket covered in dollar signs or question marks like Matthew Lesko, the free money from the government guy. There’s something about Boras being so polished that turns me off. I want him to look more like a used car salesman from an ‘80s cartoon.

I got an email a while back from an Indians fan that said someone in the Indians blogging community, I believe, had taken to referring to Miller’s role as the Effector, in terms of having an effect on the game, I assume, but I’m not sure I like that name all that well. I don’t remember who coined it — and I mistakenly erased the message, unfortunately — but it sounds too much to me like Charlie Sheen naming his pitches in Major League II. Matheny comes out, announces, “This is my Effector reliever. You hit him, you can rename him.” Not really feeling that one, if I’m being honest.

I have a friend who insists those guys should be called Short Orders, because like a short order cook, they’re going to pull the bacon off the fire right before it gets burned. He delivers this nugget of wisdom with the same vocal inflection every time, clearly starring in his own mental movie. I haven’t the heart to tell him it’s a terrible, terrible movie. Terrible name, too.

I’m somewhat partial to calling them Fixers, in that mob hitman sort of way, as they’re going to simply make whatever the problem is go away. I also kind of like the mental image of a manager calling the Wolf from Pulp Fiction in the bottom of the sixth with men on second and third and just one out. We could call them Keitels, I suppose. No, maybe not. Fixers still seems okay. Cleaners? Mechanics, maybe? Mostly thinking of movie assassins at this point. Anyone ever seen Requiem for the Phantom? It’s really good. Leon the Professional, too. Le Samourai probably remains my favourite assassin film, though. (Requiem is in its own category as a series.)

So anyway, I feel we should really get this thing nailed down and come up with a VEB official name for the fireman-type (or whatever), reliever. No, it’s not a big thing, but I never remember to put the question in any other column that I’m actually putting a certain amount of work into. So I’m putting it here.

Anyhow, just some things to think about/discuss on this day, as we wait for football to end so that we can properly look forward to spring training being just around the proverbial corner. Enjoy your Sunday, everyone, whether you’re attending some sort of ceremony for this holy day or doing your very best to avoid the whole spectacle. I’ll speak to you all again soon.