It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these here MLBits, but I suspect that will increase as we inch closer to the season. [Brett: Yup. It will. Smiley emoji.]
Separately, I’ve been tossing around the idea of doing a weekly mailbag/inbox/Q&A style piece. Is that something you’d be interested in? Do you have an awesome idea for a name? Allow those thoughts to marinate, and let me know how it tastes. Until then, here’s some news from around the league.
- At ESPN, Jayson Stark discusses the lack of parity in the National League for 2016. According to the FanGraphs projections, the worst six teams in 2016 – Phillies, Braves, Brewers, Reds, Padres and Rockies – all come from the NL. And if that’s the way the season actually plays out, it will have been the first time since 1901 – when the AL was founded – that the six worst records came from the same league.
- To Stark, that means nine NL teams competing for five playoff spots. If you momentarily put aside your interests for the Cubs, that can become a clear and real problem for all of baseball. What was once “rebuilding out of necessity” is slowly becoming “rebuilding on purpose, because the system encourages it.” There are a lot of thoughts from a lot of smart baseball people in this article, including the possibility of a draft lottery, so give it a read and see what you think. Is baseball incentivizing teams to lose?
- The Tampa Bay Rays finally have clearance to look for a new location (in their surrounding area) for a brand new stadium – clearance that took roughly 8 years to receive. The team will be looking into the Tampa side of the bay (he says that like he’s familiar with the non-Tampa side of the bay), which apparently has a larger population and is more accessible to fans from the Orlando area. For four straight seasons, the Rays have finished last in attendance (15,403 average fans in 2015).
- MLB scouts are having a tough time keeping their jobs across baseball. The implication is that the continued trend towards advanced analytics, computing technology and youth is pushing the older, more experienced scouts out of business. Regardless of how much value you place on one or the other, you never want to see good, talented people lose their jobs.
- At FanGraphs, Jeff Zimmerman uses statistics to try and identify trends of Tommy John Surgery. He breaks it down by month, number of games, chances with previous arm injury, velocity and more. Separately, he comes up with a “Players Possibly on the DL in 2016” list that does not feature any Cubs. Of course, several Cubs will go on the disabled list in 2016, it’s just that none of the main roster guys are particularly likely to, according to Zimmerman, in a vacuum.
- Buck Showalter thinks Chris Davis has enough money, urgining him to accept the reported $150 million deal to stay in Baltimore. Okie dokie.
- The Rays’ Jake Odorizzi has been an oft-discussed trade target this offseason, and it’s for good reason. He’s young, talented and under team control for four more years. In a piece over at FanGraphs, David Laurila captures quotes from the young pitcher and analyzes every angle you’d want to know. The Cubs have been loosely connected to Jake Odorizzi this offseason, for what that’s worth.
- Major League Baseball opens a lobbying office in Washington, because why not. I hope it’s on the next season of House of Cards.