Analytics plays an increasingly important role in player acquisition decisions, but team chemistry might be even more important now than it once was, Yankees GM Brian Cashman tells the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff. It’s especially important not to introduce a problem player into the mix, Cashman says. “20 years ago, you can bring anybody in and survive that,” he opines. “Now I don’t think it’s as easy — with social media, TMZ and stuff like that. Because you’re too busy instead of talking about the game and the results and the competition, you’re too busy talking about something that’s going on off the field or not game-related constantly. It’s a pain. It’s a problem.” There are, however, still unknowns in determining what sorts of players can become problems — Cashman says that, for example, one can’t know beforehand which players will suddenly become less interested in the game after setting themselves up for life with a big contract. Here’s more from the American League.
- Orioles outfielder Michael Bourn has a broken ring finger on his right hand and will miss the next four weeks, Roch Kubatko of MASN writes ( Twitter links). Bourn injured the finger yesterday while catching a football as part of a team workout. Bourn, of course, recently signed a minor-league deal to return to the Orioles, and he stood a decent chance of making their Opening Day roster. It remains to be seen how Bourn’s injury will affect his chances of making the team, and how his situation will be impacted by his opt-out, which allows him to leave the Orioles in late March if he isn’t added to their big-league roster.
- Former No. 3 overall pick Mike Zunino’s big-league career hasn’t gone as anticipated, with a .195/.262/.370 through 1,247 career plate appearances in the Majors. Zunino’s downward spiral even included a demotion to Triple-A Tacoma last season. He remains upbeat about his future, and now says the demotion actually helped him, as Larry Stone of the Seattle Times writes. “[I]t was exactly what I needed at the time,” says Zunino. “You never want to take a step backwards, but sometimes that can let you take two steps forward. It really felt that way. Being able to go down to Triple-A, be able to have some success and being called back up, you feel that sense that you earned your way back up.” In Seattle, Zunino says, he had a number of coaches giving him hitting advice, whereas in Tacoma he worked only with that affiliate’s hitting coach, Scott Brosius, who helped him re-think his approach. This year, Brosius is on the Mariners’ big-league coaching staff, and Zunino thinks he’ll also benefit from the presence of veteran backup Carlos Ruiz, who the M’s acquired in a trade this winter.