While we wait for game two of today’s doubleheader, let’s talk about some news from around the league …
- Due to the ever-expanding crop of international baseball talent, and the ever-increasing restrictions placed on how teams can acquire that talent, many organizations have reportedly tried to circumvent MLB’s bonus pool restrictions in one way or another. One of the more popular, but not quite “legit” methods of circumventing those rules is to use “package deals.” In essence, a package deal allows a team to sign the one player they want (but can’t afford with their bonus pool limitation) by signing several players with the same agent – and thereafter the proceeds of the signing might be creatively spread around. Well, MLB doesn’t like that and the Red Sox are being investigated over that very action, according to a fascinating report at Baseball America.
- A strange story recently developed out of Kansas City, as top prospect Raul Mondesi has been suspended for failing a drug test … for a drug that was found in his cold medicine. Indeed, Mondesi was originally suspended for 80 games for PEDs, before MLB and the MLBPA negotiated a drop to 50 games, given the inadvertent ingestion and unusual nature of the case. Typically, Mondesi wouldn’t be eligible for the playoffs either (given the zero tolerance nature of the substance abuse policy), but again, negotiations with the MLBPA resulted in a case-specific punishment. It’s a strange case, to be sure, but it’s curious that there wasn’t more of a fight (and this is complete speculation) if all Mondesi did was take some cold medicine (I don’t typically take cold medicine for more than a few days, and I’m not aware of any PEDs in mine). Even Royals GM Dayton Moore’s comments don’t appear to be as irritated as they should be, if all the details surrounding this story are known to us. But again, there is a zero tolerance policy and I could be completely off-base.
- THE BATTLE IS OVER! According to Michael Salfino, the sabermetric war on bunting has come to an end, reaching a tipping point early in the 2016 season. More specifically, it’s taking teams 70 more plate appearances before bunting in 2016 (1/179 PAs), as opposed to 2004 (1/109 PAs). But if you cut out pitchers, the difference is even more drastic (1/337 PAs in 2016 vs. 1/162.5 PAs in 2004). It’s an interesting trend and a fun read, so check it out at The Wall Street Journal? (double checks link …) Yeah, oh, ok, check it out at The Wall Street Journal!
- Earlier this week, we were surprised to find out that the Nationals extended Scott Boras client Stephen Strasburg to a big 7 year/$175 million deal that will keep him in Washington through the 2023 season. As more of the contract details have come out, Jeff Passan reports (h/t MLBTR) that the deal also has limited no-trade protection and some seriously deferred money. Indeed, $70 million will be deferred over the life of the contract, bringing the actual present day value down to about $160 million. Interestingly, Strasburg will technically make $45 million in the final year of the contract, but, after deferrals he’ll actually only make $15 million that year.
- According to Jenifer Langosh (MLB.com), shortstop Jhonny Peralta is nearing a return for the Cardinals, as he has been cleared to start swinging a bat, by the powers that be. The green light, so to speak, came after a recent visit to the doctor this week, roughly two months after Peralta tore a ligament in his left thumb. Peralta should start a rehab assignment around May 21.
- Also in that report, Cardinals outfielder Tommy Pham is still working on his rehab assignment, since joining AAA Memphis last Wednesday. According to manager Mike Matheny, Pham is physically ready to go, but is still getting his timing back. It’s not yet clear when they expect him to rejoin the Major League squad.
- Continuing with the Cardinals injury updates, Carlos Martinez, whose start was shortened last time out due to fatigue, will take the mound this coming Saturday. Although that doesn’t sound like news up front, that start will actually come two days after his regularly scheduled start (despite an off-day), as the Cardinals hope to give him some extra time to recover from a respiratory illness that limited his participation and production in both of his last two starts. For his part, Martinez expects to be 100% the next time he takes the mound.
- Frequently discussed Cubs trade target Sonny Gray hasn’t quite pitched up to his usual performance so far in 2016, and that might severely limit his return in trade should the A’s go that route. Gray has repeatedly claimed that he is physically healthy, but the results clearly dictate that something is wrong. At FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan digs into what may be going on and concludes that it is a mechanical issue. For a deep statistical and graphical take on what might be affecting the young pitcher, check out Sullivan’s article here at FanGraphs.
- If you’ve been gushing over the recently-made-available exit velocity data from Statcast (who hasn’t?), you’re going to want to take a look at this breakdown here at Baseball Savant. There, you can see the results of every at bat that leaves with a particular exit velocity. For example, there have been three balls launched at 120 MPH this season, and all three have gone for hits. And you can see the launch angle on all of them. Pretty interesting stuff.
- Lastly, at Baseball is Fun, Ender Inciarte pulled off an awesome fake out double play to end an inning from center field, and Hanley Ramirez hit a monster home run off the light tower atop the Green Monster at Fenway.