mlb logoI don’t always share “the biggest” MLB stories in Around the League, because I figure you can get that from a site that’s actually dedicated to full MLB coverage. If it’s a really, really big story, sure, I’ll write it up, but probably in its own post. Instead, I think I try to note some of the interesting, random, quirky, funny, or thoughtful things going on around the game. I’m not sure why I’m typing this up here right now. I guess I was just wondering why I choose the things I choose for this space.

  • Jeff Passan writes about the increasing prevalence and team-friendliness of club options tacked on to the end of arb and pre-arb extensions. Taken together with the contract, itself – which is often very small because of team control and pre-arb/arb expectations, as well as the lure of the first big score – these options are preventing some of the best players from reaching free agency in their prime, with a chance to score huge dollars. We’re seeing more and more writing about this topic from the large, national mainstream media, and I tend to think it’s only a matter of time before the pendulum swings in the other direction, and we have more and more elite young players refusing to sign these kinds of extensions. (Or, at the very least, the price of poker is going to go up. Naturally this would occur in the years leading up to the Cubs possibly having several pre-arb extension candidates.)
  • Tom Tango responds that, in theory, the players aren’t giving up those option years for nothing – the value of them should be baked into the salary the player is receiving in the preceding years. Tango is right in the sense that it’s not like players are out there saying, “Ok, I’ll take that 5-year, $25 million extension. What’s that? You want to append a $5 million club option on there for my age 27 season? Sure, go ahead. It’s just an option!” If a team wanted an option like that, they’d have to pay far, far more in salary for the first five years. That said, I think point that comes out of Passan’s piece when read together with Tango’s response is that, perhaps, players and their agents aren’t properly valuing option years. By that I mean, not just the “price” that those options should be set at, but the salary bump that should occur in the early years of the deal to compensate for the option.
  • How about the other kind of extension? The kind that comes just a year or two before free agency? The kind that is regularly going to big-time pitchers, who are getting huge years and huge dollars? Good idea? A FanGraphs piece confirms what you probably already suspect: historically, giving a late-20s starting pitcher a 5/6/7/8-year extension is not likely to be a good idea. As we look ahead to free agency, and to the Cubs’ need for front-line starting pitching, it’ll be worth remembering if the Cubs absolutely refuse to go beyond five years for anyone.
  • Dan Le Batard with an interesting take on Yasiel Puig’s transition to the States, and the behavior we’re quick to admonish. I’m not sure I agree with everything in there, but I do agree with the overarching principle: we can’t quite know what this is like for Puig.
  • More potential elbow trouble: the Reds have “backed” Mat Latos’s rehab by a couple days (at least, I’d think) because of elbow inflammation, and Rays youngster Matt Moore has been placed on the DL with an elbow injury that Jeff Passan hears involves the UCL. He’s headed to see Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion, which always makes you fear that Tommy John surgery is in the future.
  • Is instant replay killing the fun of arguments and ejections? Well, although there hasn’t been one yet this year, there still project to be plenty thanks to balls-and-strikes. (UPDATE: Apologies. I wrote portions of this yesterday, because I’ve been tending to The Little Boy, and needed to work in advance when he gave me windows of opportunity. Obviously Ricky Renteria got the first heave-ho last night, and, indeed, it was on balls-and-strikes.)
  • Mike Napoli is the pot calling Elvis Andrus’s beard terrible.
  • RBI Baseball is officially back, but it still has that unfortunate title.
  • How in the sweet hell did Martin Maldonado, the Brewers’ backup catcher, pull this off:

  • It’s easy to know when you’ve seen an amazing wall robbery or diving stop, but it’s a little harder with a catcher throwing out a runner like that. I’m pretty sure that’s an utterly unbelievable play, though. The runner was going, the ball was in the dirt, the ball took the catcher behind the batter, and he somehow managed to pick it cleanly, load and release, and nail the runner completely dead to rights with a perfect (blind) throw.
  • Edwin

    wRAA Baseball 14 just didn’t test as well.

    • Featherstone

      I dunno WAR OPS Baseball 14 sounds good to me.

  • Jim

    RR was the first hook last night, wasnt he?

    • Brett

      The problem with writing things in advance because of a sick kid. Thanks, I’ll amend.

  • terencemann

    I love Andrus’ beard. It’s probably the best beard in baseball in 100 years or more, if you ask me.

  • terencemann

    Also, RBI Baseball looks awful. They should have just updated the original with present-day players.

  • Jon

    I’ve been bitching about the Cubs getting squeezed on calls all year, so either

    A) I’m a homer
    B) They really have been getting screwed
    C) Castillo sucks at framing pitches.

    So which is it?

    • Brett

      It’s probably just that we as fans are more easily able to see the calls that go against our team than the crappy calls that go in favor (or at least, we don’t remember those ones in the same volume).

      Or it could just be a small sample, and so far, the Cubs have had shitty luck on the strike zone in particular.

    • Jon

      In FanGraphs early season results for framing the Cubs are coming in last

      • Jorbert Solmora has some interesting umpire statistics. I looked at it after the 16 inning marathon to see if my eyes were deceiving me or if Bob Davidson’s zone really was in the shape of a silly band.

  • jp3

    I think Le Batard is pretty funny on his radio show on the The Ticket app or ESPN radio but the part I’ve consistently disagreed on he keeps preaching is “he’s new to freedom”. What? So the way he says thanks to all his new found freedoms and money (though he may not understand the concept of it) is to screw the people that are paying him millions of dollars? If someone or something rescued me from a Communist country and gave me endless food and a mansion for shelter I don’t think the first thing I’d do is urinate on their rug.

    • Picklenose

      We rescued a cocker spaniel from the pound, gave it lots of food and warm fluffy bed. One of the first things it did was urinate on the carpet. Does that count?

      • jp3

        I’d like to think Puig has more intelligence than a cocker spaniel but one never knows. I can’t pretend to know the cultural shock he’s going through but damn you’d think being grateful would lead to a different type of behavior.

        • Picklenose

          Actually my point is Misty (the dog) took awhile to feel comfortable, no matter how nice we were being too her. As for Puig, it should not be about gratitude. He is being paid for his skills, not because the Dodgers feel sorry for him. If he kills his career with his excesses, Puig will not first or last player to do so. Not everyone has good self control.

    • Jon


      • jp3

        And yes Jon that was my reference 😉

        • Jon

          thing is, The Puig is not the issue here!

          • jp3

            He did however micturate on the dodgers rug though dude

      • DarthHater

        You’re out of your element, Yasiel.

    • Picklenose
      • Picklenose


      • Picklenose

        sorry for the bad postings, I had forgotten the proper way to post pics.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Puig is on the road to destruction and has rapidly become one of the biggest cancers n baseball. Some Cub fans like to rip Theo Epstein for not signing “all the Cubans,” or signing Puig over Soler. But I tell you what, the more I learn about Puig the more I stay away with a 39 and a half foot pole.

      • Jon

        The last year of Soler’s career has been riddled with injuries and let’s not forget his little “incident” as well. The lengths people want to go to defend “everything Theo” is amusing.

        • Jon

          btw, it’ s not necessarily one or the other, I’d take both on my roster today.

          • ssckelley

            I bet Puig would fit in real well with the Cubs. He is extremely talented, just might need to grow up a little.

          • nick5253

            Exactly – the jury is still out on both really, but given the option – I’d take both on my roster. It’s not my millions and the AAV isn’t going to bury any team especially the cubs or dodgers.

      • YourResidentJag

        Never been a Puig fan. Outside of the Cubs prospects, can’t wait to see what Buxton does when called up, though.

        • Jon

          Last I checked we are assembling a baseball team here and not a church choir. All I want my players to do is stay out of jail and don’t use PEDS (get yourself suspended). Granted, Puigs driving habits nearly got him there, but it seems like alot of superficial shit people don’t like Puig for.

          People put these professional athletes on a pedestal too much. They aren’t supposed to be role models, they are supposed to be good at baseball. It’s nice to hear the feel good stories about the really good guys, but ultimately that’s not the goal. The goal is to get the 25 most talented players you can on your roster.

          • YourResidentJag

            Meh. He still lacks fundamentals. I don’t see that being a problem with Buxton. When he’s ready, the Twins will have a complete player.

          • Jon

            Social media plays a huge factor too. We all know about Palmerio and Martinez and their episodes with a certain players wife in the 80s..who else knows what those goons were up to. It was the 80’s….I bet they went out all the time at night and got coked up.

      • Cyranojoe

        What’s he done that merits such dramatic statements, beside some awful driving habits and the fact that he plays for the “Mo Money” Dodgers? Maybe I just know too much about NFL players and their nonsense…

  • Picklenose

  • Blackhawks1963

    The “Tommy John” list over the past year is mind-blowing…LOOK at all these high end names on this list within the last year !

    1. Dylan Bundy
    2. Matt Harvey
    3. Corey Luebke
    4. Patrick Corbin
    5. Jarrod Parker (2nd surgery)
    6. Kris Medlen (2nd surgery)
    7. Brandon Beachy (2nd surgery)
    8. Mike Moore
    9. Jameson Taillon

    Stephen Strasburg is also a recent graduate of that list. Holy cow !! And I’m probably forgetting some names.

    All of which is to say, the market value and trade value of Jeff Samardzija is going to keep going up because he has proven to be durable and is still a low mileage guy.

  • NorthSideIrish

    This is just flat out ridiculous…

    Buster Olney ‏@Buster_ESPN 3m
    This may be one of the shortest sac flies ever, thanks to Billy Hamilton.

    • Jon

      Wow, that was insane! Throw had way too much arch on it though for that distance.

    • hansman

      RF misplayed the ball and had a bad throw,probably forgot who was on third.. Although, it still would have been a close play because of Hamilton’s speed.

      Mmm…Redbird’s executing the fundamentals.

    • mjhurdle

      his speed is definitely amazing, but i think that it was a bad decision to try for it.
      Jon Jay doesn’t have a great arm, but it was still a really close play even though Jay caught the ball moving his body sideways towards LF and then lollipop-ed the throw in.

      I think this was more a case of Jay assuming that Hamilton wouldn’t run than it was Hamilton honestly beating out the throw.

      Props to him for catching Jay napping (and his insane wheels), but im not sure other OFs are going to be so lad back with Hamilton on third, and he might regret trying that again.

  • DrReiCow

    “As we look ahead to free agency, and to the Cubs’ need for front-line starting pitching, it’ll be worth remembering if the Cubs absolutely refuse to go beyond five years for anyone.”

    Then we’ll also need to remember that in order to actually get any pitching, we will have to pay them what the market demands, not what we want. If we rigidly refuse to sign anyone for longer than 5 years, we could see ourselves with no new, great pitchers. I realize going beyond 5 years may not make for a great contract, but if we want to actually win in a couple / few years, we may have to take on some contracts that are too long to fill in our huge pitching gap.


  • Patrick W.

    I wonder on that caught stealing by Maldonado if he just let it fly thinking if he hit the batter it would be called interference?

    • K0ng

      Fascinating thought. I never caught (lefty), but wonder if that instinct is there, to try for an interference call. It would have to be instinctive, at that speed…

  • TK

    This kind of thing (depressed FA market, talent-wise) was very predictable, even obvious several years ago. I disagree about the pendulum. The only way its going to swing back again is through artificial manipulation. Players are not stupid. Nor are their agents. These guys are an entirely different species, in a different world, with different values than the guys 20 years ago. They all know the risks of holding out, and usually those risks are not worth it. What Shark is doing is a HUGE risk. Most guys will take the money and run. Its better to $50 mil over 6 years, than risk waiting 3 years in the hopes of getting $75 mil over 4 years, then either flopping or getting hurt, and end up DFA’ed in 2 years with $750 K. ESPECIALLY when so many of them are coming from “humble” lives in places like DR. They ain’t stupid. They’re going to take the sure thing, and set up their families for life.

    For this to change, MLB will have to MAKE change, like repealing the compensation pick attached to certain FA’s, scrapping the spending penalties, etc… I don’t think MLB “wants” to go back to the old days! Why would they? The game is much more interesting now . . . the Yanks aren’t guaranteed to win jack, and most years, most teams actually have a chance. This is GOOD for baseball. Attendance is up. Profit is up. Nobody except NY, BOS, LA & Cubs fans want to return to the old days of the big, expensive FA market where primarily those few heavyweights duked it out for ALL of the best players, and teams like PIT, KC, Miami, etc… had little to know chance of winning.

    Also, this necessary strategy of developing/maintaining over-all organizational health to win, building from within, and keeping young studs with these team friendly contracts discourages potential undesirable owners. To own a team you either have to be totally committed to winning, or you ain’t gonna win. You then will not make money. Teams can no longer pull a Trib, and go and sign a couple top FA’s just to put seats in the seats to watch a HR derby, but otherwise make no legitimate attempt to win. Now you have to have a healthy, complete organization, or you’re (sooner or later) gonna sink. Its a good thing for all involved, except (potential) owners who merely want a cash cow.

    • TK

      That does not apply, obviously, to Boras clients.