The 2014 season is just around the corner …
- The Pirates locked up 25-year-old outfielder Starling Marte to a six-year, $31 million extension, which comes with two option years tacked onto the end. The deal ensures that the Pirates have bought out one free agent year, and then they’ll also get the two options at the end (at a very reasonable $12.5 million and $13.5 million). In the current market, the deal looks like it’s pretty much the new normal for high-level players with between one and two years of service time. Obviously $31 million isn’t a ton of money compared to free agent dollars, but it’s a healthy risk on a guy with such a small track record. That said, teams are increasingly favoring taking a risk on young, less-proven players than older, more-proven ones (at higher rates). The Pirates will now control Marte – who hit .280/.343/.441 last year (.344 wOBA), and was worth 4.6 wins – through his prime years. Bully for them. When top outfield prospect Gregory Polanco arrives, as soon as later this year, the Pirates are going to have a potentially all-universe outfield of Marte-McCutchen-Polanco, and they’ll have them for a long, long time.
- The Dodgers held a team meeting to discuss Yasiel Puig. On March 25. I know the point was to air everything out so that the stories surrounding him don’t become a distraction this year, but, man, that ship has sailed. Everyone’s eyes are squarely on Puig, and, so far, he hasn’t shown the ability to blend into the background for a little while to keep the heat off. I’m sure the Dodgers are just hoping he hits out of his mind again this year, and the extracurricular stuff becomes less of a focus.
- MLB and the Players Association are considering changes to the league’s drug rules, increasing the bans for first and second positive tests to 100 games and a season, respectively. If the drug use is deemed “inadvertent” (can’t wait to see all the fights that come out of that), the ban would actually be reduced to 25 games.
- Lefty Randy Wolf made the Mariners’ rotation after signing a minor league deal, and after he was told he made the rotation … he was released. What’s going on? Well, the Mariners wanted Wolf to sign a 45-day advance release agreement that basically would give the Mariners the right to release him at any time during those first 45 days of the season, and be on the hook only for a pro-rated portion of his deal. Given that the Mariners have a few guys expected back in the rotation by the end of April, I understand Wolf’s reluctance to agree to the deal.
- In his place, the Mariners have signed Chris Young to a big league deal (with a 45-day advance release agreement? Probably) to be their 4th starter. He didn’t pitch in the majors in 2013, and he’s totaled 42 starts in the last five(!) years. Yowsa.
- Speaking of which, this is what injuries can do to your rotation:
#Rangers name rotation: Tanner Scheppers, Martin Perez, Robbie Ross, Joe Saunders and Nick Martinez.
— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilson_FWST) March 26, 2014
- Cee Angi with an interesting look at the decline of the “traditional” designated hitter. David Ortiz, it seems, is something of a dying breed. Many teams are opting for roster versatility over a dedicated, hulking, non-defensive slugger. Is that really the right move? (Sure wish they’d bring the DH to the NL so we could have these debates, too … /troll)
- The White Sox are serving up a 12-scoop, 3 pound ice cream sundae this year at the Cell. I’m all for large, hilarious, and tasty ballpark food, but I’m not crazy about food that pretty much requires sharing in a way that cannot be individually apportioned off. With a big ole sundae, you pretty much have to all go at like wild beasts, fighting for bites while the ice cream melts into a bubbling stew of chocolate and saliva.
- Disney walk-up music? Good for you, Tony Sanchez, and “Let It Go” is a fine choice. Ok, picking a Disney walk-up song. I’ll go with … “A Whole New World,” and I’d make sure they cued it up to the part where Aladdin is echoing Jasmine’s melody with “Don’t you dare close your eyes …. Hold your breath it gets better,” because, like, that’d be me, talking to the fans. Ok, now you. Go!