NL Notes: Montreal, Phillies, Epstein, Kottaras, Braves

Baseball was back in Montreal yesterday, with the Mets and Blue Jays squaring off at old Olympic Stadium. Of course, its former occupant — the Expos — now plays its games in Washington, DC. It is good to see the ballpark filled once again with fans donning caps featuring the team's classic logo. Jared Diamond and Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal take a look at the latest on the possibility of baseball landing back in Montreal on a more permanent basis. Here are some notes from the National League:

  • The Phillies are easing into their use of analytics, as a supplement to traditional scouting writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. But statistical analysis has already informed several decisions, such as the signing of Roberto Hernandez. "Our scouts and our analytics people looked at the middle-of-the-road, back-end starters," said GM Ruben Amaro Jr., "and we felt like he would be a good choice for us." Philadelphia likes his ground-ball rate and believes his sky-high HR/FB% will come back down to earth. The team also hopes to join the trend of utilizing shifts.
  • In a lengthy profile of Cubs president of baseball ops Theo Epstein, ESPN The Magazine's Tim Keown writes that the 40-year-old is full of optimism about his organization's direction. One key change in Chicago has been the flow of information, which has been modernized under Epstein's direction. "The currency of the draft is information," Epstein says. "Scouting information, statistical information, makeup information, medical information. In each of those buckets, we have to drill deeper if we want to have an advantage." And while some of the strategic maneuvering to secure draft picks is now no longer possible, Epstein says that does not change the other key input in acquiring young talent. "Now you're left only with how well you can scout," he says. "It's gone from strategy and scouting to just scouting."
  • One veteran that the Cubs probably had higher hopes for is catcher George Kottaras, who was released on Wednesday. The 30-year-old has a handful of suitors, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com, and is trying to decide on the best opportunity.
  • The Braves are not only hoping to do something new with their planned ballpark, by building it in conjunction with a mixed-use development, but will buck the trend of putting new baseball parks downtown, writes Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The piece offers a nice discussion of the preliminary plans, which include designing the park's exterior in a "transparent" manner that will allow it to remain integrated into the overall development project.

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