It's unfortunate that a lot of the focus over the weekend has been on some truly atrocious hack jobs performed by certain umpires but it seems, at least for now, that Major League Baseball is finally willing to do something about it.
Previously on Beyond the Box Score
Umpires, Rulebooks, and Instant Replay - By Ben Horrow - Beyond the Box Score
It feels like umpiring at the major league level has been on the decline for some time now and it's only gotten worse. More specifically, there are moments where I get the impression that certain umpires strive to make it more about them then the game itself. Ben tackles a great subject at a time everyone is trying to make heads or tails of the issues.
Scott Kazmir, Back From The Dead - By Lee Trocinski - Beyond the Box Score
The return of Scott Kazmir is something that many of us have been talking about lately, especially since it appeared as if he would never find his way onto a major league team again. Injuries had all but wrecked the velocity and movement that made his fastball his most dominant pitch and now he primarily works off of his slider and change-up while being able to hit the mid-90's with his fastball once more.
BtBS Podcast #57: Are You Flexible? - With Blakey Murphy and Bryan Grosnick - Beyond the Box Score
Another fine show put together by Blake and Bryan as they tackle the weird park factors at Wrigley Field and talk about one of Bryan's favorite subjects, positional flexibility.
Bryce Harper, Starling Marte, and WAR by Matt Hunter | Beyond the Box Score
The discussion regarding how reliable WAR can be when it takes into account various defensive metrics is something that interests many of us here at BtBS. It was also shown that the correlation between WAR with the defensive metrics was stronger in regards to winning percentage than it was without. This is an older piece by Matt but felt it is still important enough to use to make the point that while defensive metrics are far from perfect they are still useful in some ways.
Around the Sabersphere
The curious case of Vernon Wells - By Matt Filippi - The Hardball Times
A question I've asked myself on a nearly daily basis but have been a little too lazy to research the answer to is: "How the crap is Vernon Wells doing so well this year?" Well, Matt decided to put in the time to find out and maybe this isn't a mirage or voodoo of any kind that's fueling Wells' performance to date.
Daily Notes: Every Team’s Park-Adjusted Home-Run Rate | By Carson Cistulli | FanGraphs Baseball
This was interesting to say the least. Carson put together a list of every team's park-adjusted home run rates and I was pretty surprised to see which teams were at the top. It's a quick read but the table with the information is worth taking a look at.
The Baseball Prospectus Futures Guide 2013 | By Dave Pease and Jason Parks | Baseball Prospectus
I've long been a fan of the work that Baseball Prospectus puts out and their 2013 Futures Guide is no exception. I've already had the opportunity to rifle through my copy and it's something that I've spent many hours going through already. If you enjoy reading about prospects and finding out which organizations have what then you should check this out.
Around SB Nation
Anthony Rizzo, Cubs agree to 7-year, $41 million contract extension, per report - By Alex Welch - MLB Daily Dish
Although there will be a great deal written about this contract that the Chicago Cubs brilliantly signed first baseman Anthony Rizzo to I felt compelled to say that this is the smartest thing the organization has done in quite some time.
The worst baseball writing of the month - By Rob Neyer - Baseball Nation
Rob Neyer is a great writer and he brilliantly blasted Dan Shaughnessy, a writer for the Boston Globe, on a horrible piece he wrote accusing David Ortiz of cheating because a) he's Dominican, b) he's an older player, and c) he's coming off of an injury. Needless to say it's a horrible piece and Dan really shouldn't have bothered, but I do feel like Rob handled the rebuttal quite well.
Umpire Fieldin Culbreth suspended for not knowing the rules - By Steven Goldman - SBNation.com
In one of the biggest surprises of the season, at least to me, MLB decided to take action against an umpire for blowing a call that was a direct result of him not being aware of the rule book. Imagine that, an umpire -- the person that is supposed to be the great arbiter of our game -- isn't familiar with the rules.
EVERYTHING you wanted to know about how your team drafts - By cookiedabookie - Minor League Ball
This is a very thoroughly put together piece that gives you the breakdown of how each major league team has drafted over the previous five seasons. Want to know how often your favorite team drafts a high school player over a college player in a given round? Check this piece out to find out.
Outside the Sabersphere
Derek Lowe is no fan of Sabermetrics | By Bill Baer | HardballTalk
Bill writes up a quick response to an article written by Drew Davison of the Star-Telegram where Texas Rangers reliever Derek Lowe talks about how he knows he doesn't pass the "stats test".
700 Free Online Courses from Top Universities | Open Culture
This is probably one of the most useful things I found over the weekend while messing around on the internet. Apparently there are loads of free lectures available to watch or listen to from various universities online. If you ever wanted to take some courses in statistics, journalism, or sports media than there are some listed here that you may find interesting.