With Tuesday night’s win against the Brewers, the Cubs avoided the dreaded three game losing streak for the second time this year.
I’m not sure how long that streak will stay intact, but it could be a pretty fun one to follow throughout the season.
But there are other teams than the Cubs out there, so let’s talk about some news from around the league, starting with …
- … the San Diego Padres who may make outfielder Matt Kemp available in trade later this summer, according to Bob Nightengale. For the season, Kemp is slashing .244/.257/.488, but does already have 10 homers. The Cubs have been attached to a few stray corner outfielders throughout the early season, but I wouldn’t expect them to be involved here (especially aas Kemp’s defense has been pretty terrible over the past few years (and already this season)). Kemp, 31, is under control for three more seasons after 2016, at $21.5M per year (although the Dodgers will pay $3.5M/year of that salary from 2016-2019, making his effective cost $18M/year). I think I’d pass.
- Pace/length-of-game is making a comeback in the news, as the over time in takes to finish a game is back up in 2016 after a brief decline in 2015 due to new rules. In fact, with the exception of 2014, this season’s average game length (3:00:26) is the longest it’s been in a decade and represents an increase of seven minutes/game over last season. At ESPN, Jayson Stark looks at series of potential reasons for the increased length of game including replay, pitching, and pace-of-game rules, themselves. It’s an interesting read on a quietly important topic.
- Perhaps not coincidentally (spurred by the commissioner’s recent comments on the matter) Dave Cameron also examines a series of issues that may be affecting the increased pace/length-of-games this year including at-bat length and batters per game. There is clearly not a one size fits all solution to this problem, as it’s most likely a combination of all these elements. [Brett: Of particular note, even a slight uptick in time between pitches (as their has been this season), can have a dramatic effect. By my calculations, if time between pitches dropped from the current 22.6 seconds to 20 seconds (the time of the pitch clock in the minors), that alone would shave about 12.5 minutes off of each game.] Expect pace-of-game to be a one of the larger items addressed in the upcoming CBA negotiations.
- Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley is currently working on a 24-game hit streak, extending it most recently with a home run on Wednesday night. Over that stretch, Bradley Jr. is slashing .407/.460/.780, albeit with a 19.0% strikeout rate (that’s not high in a vacuum, but it is a little surprising for such a good stretch of hitting). His BABIP throughout the streak is .462, but he has a 47.2% hard hit rate – which is rather high, and helps explain it quite a bit (Kris Bryant’s is 39.3% on the season, for example). Bradley, Jr. has a really long way to go to reach Joe DiMaggio’s record 56 game hit streak, but everyone loves a story like that, so I’m pulling for him to keep it going.
- This is a funny coincidence: Athletics outfielder Khris Davis and Orioles outfielder Chris Davis have the same number of home runs (31) and RBI (72) since the beginning of August 2015.
- Yikes, this isn’t too cool, Atlanta: As you may have seen, the Braves fired manager Fredi Gonzalez on Monday (which, whatever), only the problem is that he wasn’t supposed to find out until Tuesday. Apparently, Gonzalez – then in Pittsburgh for a four game set against the Pirates – received an email late Monday night notifying him of his scheduled flight to Atlanta on Tuesday afternoon … which probably didn’t look great considering the Pirates series was supposed to go until Thursday. From there, the pieces were put together. That’s the kind of stuff you really have to avoid. For his career, Gonzalez has a 710-692 record as a major league manager. Unfortunately in 2016, Gonzalez was not exactly set up for success in Atlanta and that’s that.
- And by the way, with Gonzalez’s firing, there are now no Latino managers in the Major Leagues and only two minorities overall (Dusty Baker – Nationals, Dave Roberts – Dodgers). That fact stands in stark contrast to the 28.5% of Latino players on opening day rosters, and Ken Rosenthal addresses the issue here at Fox Sports. If you immediately jump to argue that it isn’t an issue or that people are being “oversensitive” let me slow you down for just a second. First of all, there are very clearly multiple qualified candidates throughout the game, and there is certainly no lack of interest. Based on the number of key Latino, black, Asian, etc. personnel elsewhere in the game, alone, there should probably be a bit more diversity. And second of all, no one is saying that any (or all) MLB teams are being expressly racist. It’s simply a phenomenon that should be different, and definitely needs to be openly discussed.
- Adam Wainwright had a good start and thinks he’s dangerous again or something. Who cares …
- … actually never mind that. Let’s talk about how bad he’s been, because that’s more fun. On the season, Wainwright has a 5.92 ERA that is at least partially supported by a high FIP (4.02) and xFIP (4.56). He has a perfectly fine walk rate (6.1%), but a horribly low strikeout rate (13.5%). In fact, his strikeout rate is the sixth lowest in baseball among qualifiers (and as you can imagine, the five players worse than Wainwright are not super good pitchers). He’s been getting a little unlucky in some ways (.337 BABIP, 61.6% strand rate), but has just an 8.5% HR/FB ratio and only a 39.0% groundball rate. Even still, after just one good performance (6.2 IP, 0ER, 6H, 1B, 5Ks) last night against the Rockies, Wainwright said, “I’m dangerous …. You can say I’m dangerous again.” Thanks for the permission, but I think I’ll pass for now.
- At Baseball is Fun, among many other recent enjoyable bits, how about an indy ball player crashing through an outfield wall to make a catch? That’s never not fun.