You may not have noticed, but I (Michael) have been writing these MLBits™ every week for about a month now. The hope is that these can be something of an expected weekly piece, as well as something you all look forward to. Oh, also, MLBits is not actually trademarked, so feel free to make some branded lunch boxes, shirts and hats. Until then, here is some news from around the league…
- Troy Tulowitzki is reportedly meeting with his agent to discuss whether or not to ask the Colorado Rockies for trade (presumably) to a contender. While there’s virtually no chance the Cubs would be involved in a deal for the shortstop, this type of move would certainly shake up the market and could have downstream impacts for Chicago. More directly, three of the five teams listed in in the report – Mets, Pirates, Padres – figure to be competing with the Cubs for one of the Wild Card spots this year (though, to be fair, the teams were listed more so because of fit, rather than anything concrete). The Rockies (11-19) have lost 11 straight games and here’s a crazy stat: Tulowitzki has taken just two walks in 113 plate appearances in 2015.
- Indians starter Corey Kluber racked up 18 strikeouts over 8 shutout, 1-hit innings against the Cardinals last night. Meanwhile, Jon Jay has been missing time with a thumb/wrist issue.
- While the Biogenesis investigation was generally considered a success, resulting in the suspension of several high profile players, MLB continues to suspect PED usage throughout the Major Leagues. According to a report by Buster Olney, though, PED users may not be able to hide as easily as they once did. Thanks to new technology, the velocity of every baseball hit, pitched, thrown or otherwise can be tracked and recorded and used to find unusual or telling trends. MLB has identified two observable things that could hint at PED usage: sudden spikes in velocity from pitchers and sudden spikes in bat speed (exit velocity on hits) from batters.
- Barry Bonds is reportedly filing a grievance against MLB, this year, claiming that there was a concerted effort to keep him out of baseball following the 2007 season, his last. Apparently, Bonds even offered to play for the league minimum in 2008 AND donate his salary to purchasing tickets for kids, but could not find a suitor. On the one hand, Bonds hit .276/.480/.565 in 2007, but, on the other hand, he was a 43-year old slugger at the time, heavily connected to PEDs, who had just been indicted on federal perjury and obstruction charges.
- Tuesday night, Alfredo Simon threw a 61 MPH pitch to Torii Hunter that was so loopy and slow, Hunter did nothing but freeze and laugh it off …. Until Simon did it again on the very next pitch and got Hunter to weakly popup to the catcher behind the plate. You can see the video here, apparently those are known as “eephus pitches.” Shrug.
- Julio Franco, who played his last MLB season in 2007 at the age of 48, is now a 56 year old player-manager in Japan’s Baseball Challenge (semi-professional) league. In ten games for the Ishikawa Million Stars, Franco has a .333 batting average with four RBIs and six runs. When asked if/when he would slow down, Franco responded, “I want to play until I’m 66. That’s the goal.”
- Dodgers star outfielder Yasiel Puig suffered a setback in his High-A rehab outing, last Friday, re-aggravating his left hamstring while running to first base. The setback figures to push Puig back at least one week, though there is no timetable for his return.
- Andre Ethier, who has filled in for Puig since he hit the DL on April 24, is hitting .329/.423/.598 over 97 PAs. The Dodgers (22-11) have won five of their last six, and stand five games ahead of the Padres in the NL West.
- Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter is eyeing June 4 as the return date for his 3x All-star catcher, Matt Wieters. After hitting .308/.339/.500 over 26 games last season, Wieters underwent Tommy John surgery on June 17 and has been rehabbing ever since. On Tuesday, Wieters caught a full game at the Orioles’ spring training facility and figures to play behind the plate every other day, once he returns on June 4, to ease back into his role. Wieters, 28, is a free agent at the end of the 2015 season.
- The Tampa Bay Rays have run into quite a bit of bad luck over the past week and a half. First, right hander Alex Cobb revealed that he would be undergoing season-ending Tommy John Surgery to repair a tear in his throwing elbow. Cobb says he hopes to be pitching again by September, 2016(!). Cobb, 27, had a 2.87 ERA over 166.1 innings in 2014.
- And then there’s Drew Smyly – former top pitching prospect and one of the main returns in the David Price trade last year – has also been put on the shelf with a torn labrum. Both pitchers figured quite prominently in both the Rays’ short and long term plans. Smyly, 25, had a 3.24 ERA over 153 innings in 2014.
- It seems that every time I do one of these MLBits, there is a new, yet equally impressive, video of Giancarlo Stanton doing something savage to a baseball. Here he is hitting a home run *out of Dodger stadium*:
— MLB (@MLB) May 13, 2015
- According to Molly Knight, Stanton’s 467 foot home run on Tuesday was just the fifth to leave Dodger Stadium. Ever.