Now that we are in the throes of the season, there is a heck of a lot going on around baseball. So I won’t waste your time up front, and I’ll just jump right into some of the news from around the league ….
- Former Cub and current Indian Marlon Byrd has been suspended from Major League Baseball for 162 games after testing positive for PEDs. for a second time. Byrd has previously tested positive for PEDs back in 2012, for which was suspended 50 games. At the age of 38, I suspect Byrd is trying his best to keep his career going any way he can (he indicated the PED ingestion was inadvertent), but at what cost? Perhaps reputation isn’t especially important to him, but I suspect he’ll struggle to find his way back onto a Major League roster once this suspension is served (and if he doesn’t find a contract for next season, he can’t finish out the suspension). It almost feels weird every time another player gets caught with PEDs, doesn’t it? As if it’s the remnant of some other, foreign era. I’d really like it to stop.
- The fight between Rougned Odor and Jose Bautista isn’t quite going away, as Evan Grant at SportsDay recounts some new quotes Bautista gave to Tom Verducci in an upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated. Essentially, from my understanding, Bautista admits that his slide was both late and intentional, before claiming that Odor was “looking for a fight.” Here’s his exact words on the matter: “I slid through the bag. Was it late? Yes, a hundred percent. But what can I do after they hit me? Should I ask my manager to let me pitch, which he is never going to let me do? Like, what am I supposed to do? Just sit there and take it?” I have long been on Bautista’s side, mostly because I don’t think bat flips are bad things, but it’s hard for me to see how Odor was the one “looking for a fight” when Bautista says stuff like that. Whatever. This story was interesting for a while, but now it’s old. Let’s move on.
- Indians manager Terry Francona said that right-hander Carlos Carrasco is scheduled to start Thursday’s series opener against the Royals, via Shane Jackson at MLB.com. Carrasco, you’ll recall, has been on the disabled list with a left hamstring injury since April 24, but is now ready to make his return (he just finished a Minor League rehab stint in Double-A). Although we’ve all considered Carrasco a potential, theoretical trade target for the Chicago Cubs, it’s worth noting that he’s been out for over a month and the Indians are just 2.5 games out of the AL Central. It’s quite likely that he’ll remain right where he is for the rest of the season, which is why this update is in an MLBit, as opposed to a Lukewarm Stove.
- The next International Free Agency Period (one in which the Chicago Cubs will be unable to sign any one player to a contract larger than $300,000) opens up in about a month (July 2). Although many of the players likely have strong, verbal agreements in place with the teams with which they’ll ultimately sign, there is obviously a very large group of available free agents. At Baseball America, Ben Badler previews some of the most notable, young and available prospects, as well as the teams that are most likely to exceed their bonus pools to get them (Braves, Padres, Nationals, Cardinals and Astros). If that list of teams seems small, however, consider that, in addition to the Cubs, the Angels, Diamondbacks, Rays, Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Giants and Royals are all ineligible to sign players during the 2016-2017 period for greater than $300,000. That weeds out a heck of a lot of competition.
- The family that owns the New York Mets plans to make an initial payment of $16 million by Wednesday in return of the profits gained from Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. The good news (for the Mets) is that the courts have agreed to defer the remaining $45 million the family owes to be paid in annual installments (with interest) from 2017-2020. The deferrals will theoretically provide the Mets owners with far more financial maneuverability than they’ve demonstrated in years past.
- Over at FanGraphs, Craig Edwards asks what is the pitcher-hitting equivalent of a .400 hitter? But because the whole point of the article is the journey and mystery of figuring out those numbers, I’ll just show you the door and let you walk on in. It’s a fun read and definitely worth the time.
- According to Thomas Harding (MLB.com), Jose Reyes will join the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes today (Wednesday), one day after his MLB suspension for an alleged domestic violence incident ended (Tuesday). Reyes, soon to be 33, was arrested in Hawaii on Halloween 2015, for an incident involving his wife; charges were later dropped because his wife did not cooperate with the police investigation. MLB’s new policies on domestic violence, however, do not require a conviction, and Reyes was suspended retroactive to February 23. Reyes has been working out at the club’s facilities in Scottsdale and will be immediately added to the Rockies’ 40-man roster.
- The Arizona Diamondbacks (23-30) have not gotten off to the start they very clearly (and some would say desperately, like me) were aiming for in the offseason. Shelby Miller and Zack Greinke, for a couple examples, haven’t been anywhere near as good as expected and A.J. Pollock had season-ending surgery right before opening day. What’s interesting, though, is that isn’t the reason many saw them as a week team entering 2016. As Dave Cameron writes here at FanGraphs, the biggest perceived flaw of the D-Backs coming into the season was their “stars and scrubs” roster. Analysts saw a team that was going to rely too heavily on a few key players, that were otherwise surrounded with poor role players. Interestingly, Cameron points out, it’s been the exact opposite. But with a tough stretch of baseball coming up, what’s a team to do, if they find themselves at, say, 28-40 after the next two weeks? Cameron suggests making Zack Greinke available in trade (mind=blown).
- There’s a big, in-depth discussion of Greinke’s contract (the true cost after deferrals and bonuses paid by the D-Backs are accounted for is something closer to 5 years/$160 million) and availability, so I’m guessing you’ll want to read this one. I suppose it’s important to mention that Greinke is just a few months into a brand new six-year contract and has no-trade protection. So this is probably entirely academic.
- According to Andy McCullough of the LA Times, the Dodgers have designated infielder Alex Guerrero for assignment. Guerrero, 29, signed a four-year/$28 million contract with the Dodgers out of Cuba in 2013. He’s owed $5 million in each of 2016 and 2017, before he becomes a free agent. Teams now have eight days to claim Guerrero (and his salary) should they want to. Guerrero’s contract included a clause that allowed him to refuse any minor league assignment. Taken all together with his limited production and defensive capabilities, I’m not sure many teams will be champing at the bit to scoop him up.
- How about Mookie Betts having about as good of a game as anyone can have and Padres catcher Christian Bethancourt pitching at 96 MPH and 53 MPH in one inning? That’s fun stuff.
- Finally, the Marlins have designated former Cub and source of frustration (because of how good he could have been but wasn’t) Edwin Jackson for assignment. Jackson had been on the 15-day disabled list earlier this season, but was reinstated to little success on May 20. On the year, he had just a 5.91 ERA through eight appearances, with a FIP (5.93) that was worse. Jackson is still just 32 years old, though, so he may have some time left to turn his career around. Oh and in case you’ve forgotten, the Cubs are paying Jackson $11 million in 2016, the final year of his ill-fated four-year contract with the team.