Many Effectively Wild listeners would probably agree with Sam that the weekly email shows are their favorite part of the podcast. So while EW Rewind handles the in-depth analysis of each episode’s topics from the first one on, we’ll also have a series of email show recaps, giving a rundown of each email, and making for a handy reference guide.

 

On Nov 5, 2012, during the show’s first offseason, Ben and Sam first announced the weekly reader email episode format. The plan was to have them on Wednesdays, but (in an unwitting tie-in to the democratic nature of the email shows) the first email ended up being discussed the next day, Election Day. The first full version would come after that, in episode 78.

 

Episode 77 (11/6/12, 21m)

Intro sound: A bear growls, a man urges “No, Ben, no!” and chaos ensues.

Banter: After introducing Sam, Ben refers to not hearing crickets, and not having heard them in ages. Long-time listeners will know that Sam’s battles against crickets were a recurring storyline early in the show’s run. Sam comments that they’re more the neighbors’ problems now. Still, he did end up killing a few by stepping on them (intentionally). Though they have a quick first step, afterwards they’re content and say “Okay, that’s cool now.” And they just stay there. Sam wonders if this will hurt his popularity.

Email #1: Ben reads the first email ever, from a listener name Mike. Ben suggests that listeners could include hometowns or Twitter handles to foster a feeling of community. This did not end up catching on, whether it’s because the writers wouldn’t include them, or our hosts wouldn’t read them.

Being the first email ever, here it is in its entirety: “Gentlemen, your show has become my favorite baseball-related podcast for its lack of fluff, and smart insights. It takes balls/brains to mostly issue playoff predictions. You are a central part of my morning shower routine, so hearing that you’ll be keeping a daily schedule makes me very pleased. As for a topic, I’d like to see something to the effect of ‘tipping point teams’ for free agents. What I mean is, teams who fall into that 85- to 90-win range, due to a weakness or two that could be addressed via free agency. Or competitive teams that are aging and could fall out of the 85- to 90-win range if they don’t do something this offseason. When all is said and done, I guess I’m looking for a top five list of teams in need of free agency, and then your guys’ suggestions of how they could fill those voids, considering salary and the impact their signing would have to have. For what it’s worth, Mike.”

After reading about the shower, Ben dryly remarks that he’s glad to be part of such an intimate routine.

In response to the question, Ben says 6 teams were in that range for 2012 (two made the playoffs: Tiger and Cards). He guesses that being in that bracket makes you more inclined to spend more for extra wins than you may have otherwise, given the potential benefits. Sam is skeptical, given the low level of “prognosticative precision,” and muses that every team should try to improve regardless.

In an “effort to enrich Mike’s shower” that morning, Ben lists his five teams:

Rays (90 wins in 2012, 92 in ’13): Probably would add a hitter, since they never add starters this way. Someone like “an Ichiro, a Napoli, a Youkilis … maybe a Melky.” The article before “Melky” in particular elicits a chuckle from Sam. (Notable FAs ultimately signed: Roberto Hernandez, James Loney, and Kelly Johnson.)

Brewers (83, 74): Pitchers, given their bad bullpen and potential loss of starters. Around this time, the Brewers had also been rumored to be in the running for Josh Hamilton. (Signed: Tom Gorzelanny, Kyle Lohse, Yuniesky Betancourt)

Padres (76, 76): Starters, like Dan Haren or Shaun Marcum. “Petco reclamation project-types.” (Signed: Jason Marquis)

A’s (94, 96): Infielders. The team had no shortstop, and “their third baseman is Josh Donaldson, so they kinda need some help over there.” Sam: “Maybe they’ll trade some of the outfielders for pitching, then trade some of the pitching for a third baseman, and then trade the third baseman for prospects.” (No notable FAs, but did trade for Jed Lowrie and John Jaso.)

Rangers (93, 91): If they don’t get Greinke, they could sign someone to replace Hamilton and Napoli. (Signed: A.J. Pierzynski, Lance Berkman, and Derek Lowe.)

Sam goes on record saying he probably only would’ve swapped the Rangers with the Angels (89, 78), given their potential loss of Greinke. (Signed: Josh Hamilton, Joe Blanton, and Sean Burnett.)

When asked if he’s satisfied with how they answered the question, Ben replies that while those teams may not be most in need of FAs, they’re likely to fall in the win range. Sam adds that every team who stands to be competitive could use free agents, especially with the added value of winning your division.

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