In case you were looking for something else to do tonight besides watching The Oscars (which you’re totally doing – don’t lie), here’s a short set of MLBits because I, too, was looking for something to take my eyes off of the red carpet.
- B.J. Upton is no more. No, the Braves didn’t jettison the center fielder and his contract into orbit in this hopes that it would re-energize his career, only to discover that the cold, vacuum of space causes not only a reduction in short burst acceleration and a dramatic uptick in strikeout rate, but also death. Instead, B.J. Upton is no more because he’s changing his name, officially: hello, Melvin Upton, Jr. That’s B.J.’s given name, so there you go. Melvin it is. Maybe it will help more than that space thing.
- It seems that the player reaction to the (relatively tame) pace of play changes announced by MLB last week has been largely negative, though the MLBPA signed off on the changes. Ken Rosenthal’s response? If you don’t want even more draconian rule changes, alter your habits a little bit, and pick up the pace, so to speak.
- A great read on the efficacy of groundball pitchers at the Hardball Times. In short, it acknowledges that, yes, groundballs are better than line drives and fly balls, and, yes, groundball pitchers are good at getting groundballs. But the question we should be asking is whether those pitchers are as good as they need to be the rest of the time. If they’re getting hit disproportionately harder on their non-grounders, we could be overrating groundball pitchers. The biggest thing I took away is to pay more attention to the rate at which groundballers and non-groundballers are able to induce pop-ups (which are, from the pitcher’s perspective, the best kind of batted ball – and it is a repeatable skill). Groundball pitchers tend not to do it all that much.
- In response to Alex Rodriguez’s uninspiring – but handwritten! – apology letter, Grant Brisbee offered five other handwritten apology notes from baseball players, and they are hilarious.
- The Cardinals are very conscious of Adam Wainwright’s workload the last couple years, and the fact that his 2014 season was followed by a minor elbow procedure. As we’ve discussed: tons of talent in that Cardinals’ rotation, and also tons of age/injury risk. More than most teams, I’d say.
- Joey Votto appeared to be responding to Marty Brennaman’s comments about his plate approach (being “content” to lead the league in OBP, as though that’s a bad thing) in the most diplomatic way possible, while still pointing out that it’s “ignorant” and “silly.” He also demonstrated incredible self-awareness by noting that these kinds of debates are ultimately a good thing, because he’s in the entertainment business. I was beefin’ with Votto when he wouldn’t cheer on Marlon Byrd (now his teammate) in the All-Star Game a few years back, but I’m officially over it. I like this guy. A lot. He worked with Anthony Rizzo last offseason, he’s a great player, he does very good things in the Cincinnati community, and he drops very thoughtful quotes like in that article.
- There’s a real chance that baseball will be back at the Olympics in 2020.
- C.C. Sabathia wants you to take your “best shape of my life” stories and shove them. Probably into a burrito of some sort. Sabathia reported to Spring Training at 305 pounds, and apparently suggested it was intentional, designed to counter his own feeling that he was too light last year (about 30 pounds less). For a guy coming off of knee surgery, I can’t imagine having so much weight on his frame is going to be a good thing, but he knows his body better than I do.
- His predecessor is still waiting on an extension with his new organization, but Ben Cherington has a new deal with the Red Sox. The details for Boston’s GM are extremely unclear, but he’s still the man there.