Let’s get into some news from around the league…
- When the St. Louis Cardinals signed Aledmys Diaz back in March 2014, most folks were expecting a good, perhaps even great, reserve infielder. What we were certainly not expecting is what Diaz has been so far this year. In 66 plate appearances this season, Diaz has slashed an unbelievable .468/.500/.823 with a so-so 6.1% walk rate, but an almost unthinkable 4.5% strikeout rate. In addition, he’s been worth 1.4 WAR so far, which is good for fifth best this season.
- And to think, he almost didn’t start. If it weren’t for a thumb injury to incumbent shortstop Jhonny Peralta, and then an injury to Ruben Tejada at the end of Spring Training, Diaz probably wouldn’t have gotten the chance he has for quite some time (if ever). And the incredible part is that he was not even supposed to have a big bat in the majors. He was long considered to be a nice peripheral piece (the Cubs even knocked the tires right up until he chose the Cardinals), but this was far out of the realm of expectations. We’ll see if it lasts, but he’s already contributed so much.
- Diaz is in elite company already (I’m sure the BFIB are loving this):
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 28, 2016
- At Baseball America, Ben Badler writes about how teams can get around the international bonus pools restrictions with some creative maneuvering. More specifically, by packaging certain players (that share managers/trainers), teams can give more money to one particular camp, while spreading it across multiple IFA periods. Baseball is aware of this practice, but hasn’t done much yet to stop it. Although, with the CBA set to expire soon, there might be a total revamping of the industry anyway.
- Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he would ban shifts if he were commissioner, claiming, “I just think the field was built this way for a reason.” I disagree for both logistical (do the players have to start in a designated zone?) and personal preference (who cares?) type reasons. Shifts may lower offensive production, but they do come at a cost. As we’ve seen countless times, hitters can go the other way, bunt, or beat it without trying. Shifts are a gamble. Sometimes they payoff (he’s a genius!) and sometimes they don’t (he’s a moron!). And if teams want to try and gain an edge by playing to the spray charts, let them.
- The Rockies overcame a 7-0 deficit to the Pirates last night, only to lose 9-8 in the top of the 12th inning. With a runner on first, Jordy Mercer at the plate and Carlos Estevez pitching, Mercer deposited a double into right center field, for the go ahead run. Mark Melancon closed it out in the ninth (as he does) and the Pirates won their fourth straight (bah humbug). Pitcher Jon Gray (a college pitcher the Cubs passed over with their selection of Kris Bryant – whew) started the game for the Rockies, while allowing nine hits and six earned runs in his 3.2 innings of work.
- Rangers ace Yu Darvish is making his way back to the majors from Tommy John surgery, starting with a rehab assignment at AA, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Darvish is an exciting, talented pitcher to watch, and baseball is better off with him on the field (especially when that field is in the AL). Here’s to a speedy recovery.
- Adam LaRoche sent out a tweet reminding people that today is take your child to work day. Whatever, dude. This story is getting old.
- The Oakland A’s are set to call up top pitching prospect Sean Manaea, and I just added him to my fantasy baseball team :). Manaea, 24, was the left-handed pitching prospect acquired from Kansas City in the Ben Zobrist trade last season. He’s been putting up fantastic numbers in Triple-A Nashville, having allowed just 16 hits, 3 runs, and 4 walks through 18 innings pitched. I love it when top prospects are promoted.
- Similarly, Pirates top pitching prospect (and one of the top prospects in all of baseball) Tyler Glasnow has been pitching like he wants the call (and he’ll likely get it soon), while he awaits his turn in AAA Indianapolis. So far, through his 22.0 innings pitched at AAA, Glasnow has a 2.57 ERA (2.06 FIP) and a ridiculous (for anyone, let alone a starter) 36.6% strikeout rate. I love it less when top prospects are promoted by the other four teams in the NL Central.
- Bryce Harper is on a mission to make baseball fun again, and we at Baseball is Fun are right there with you, Bryce.
- One of last year’s darling teams, the Houston Astros, are off to a horrible start, and it’s not just a matter of a flukey bad record – they’ve actually been pretty disappointing.
- Not sure if you remember last year when the subject of players selling stock in their future earnings came up, but now five more players – including young Phillies slugger Maikel Franco – have joined the movement. For example, Franco sold 10% of his future earnings for a $4.35 million payment now. It’s a fascinating system, which allows young players like Franco to get some cash now without necessarily having to sign a long-term, team-friendly extension.
- Kevin Kiermaier is the guy who gets all the love in the Tampa Bay outfield, but there’s no way Steven Souza, Jr. should have been able to make this catch.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.