Today is the less sexy “waiver trade deadline,” so I suppose keep your ears perked for last minute moves around the league, even though it’s been an exceptionally quiet August on the trade market. I remember last year, there was a constant hum about Starlin Castro and about James Shields. Maybe quiet is better.
- A fun read from Jonah Keri about fun – specifically, how managers/coaches in professional sports find success with fun as a lever. And, of course, you can’t talk about a coach/manager using fun as a tool without talking to and about Cubs manager Joe Maddon, as Keri does. Give it a look. A notable bit coming from a guy whose opinion on Maddon’s antics I find especially notable to hear:
As a Red Sox, Lester remembers battling Maddon’s Rays 19 times a year, and yes, sneering at them a bit. While the Sox followed more formal protocols, Rays players would have dressups, skip batting practice, and do all kinds of things that made Lester think, “That’s not professional.”
“Then you get to be a part of it, you get to meet Joe … and now I just love it,” Lester said. “The biggest thing for me was understanding where he comes from and why he does this stuff. Because it is a long season. The word fun gets thrown around a lot. But you want things to be relaxed. You don’t want guys beating their heads against the wall for seven, eight months. So things like having optional batting practice, we’re traveling and we’re going to wear messed-up suits, anything just to break up the monotony of those eight months.”
- There’s more from Lester in there, from Jason Heyward, and from Maddon himself.
- Starling Marte is very fast, and is very good at stealing bases. He came into last night’s game having stolen 46 bases and been thrown out just 10 times. Miguel Montero has really struggled at throwing out baserunners this year, catching just 5 of the 58 runners who’d tried to steal against him coming into last night. So, when Marte tried to steal last night, you’ve got to figure that the combined chances he’d be caught by Montero would be somewhere in the 1 to 2% range. Which, of course, is why it happened. You can watch the play here, and it just looks good – a good pitch to receive and throw, a good transfer and throw by Montero, and then a typically great tag by Javy Baez.
- I know it’s been the go-to comparison for years because of the cerebral nature of the pitching, the incredible movement, and the not-necessarily-tip-top velocity, but I still resist it a bit because you’re talking about one of the best pitchers of all-time. Still, here’s Pirates manager Clint Hurdle:
Clint Hurdle on Kyle Hendricks: "I thought I was back in 1987, and I was watching Greg Maddux pitch."
— Mark Grote (@markgrotesports) August 31, 2016
- For the record, in 1987, Maddux was an unsuccessful (5.61 ERA) big leaguer, but he was also just 21 years old. In the five years after that, Maddux was very good, but he didn’t have his super-elite breakout (and first Cy Young) until 1992, when he was 26. Kyle Hendrick is 26.
- More on Hendricks later, but one more Bullet item. This read from Patrick Mooney is good, and includes this gem: “Hendricks now ranks fifth in career ERA (2.96) among all active pitchers with at least 70 starts, trailing only Jose Fernandez, Jacob deGrom, Chris Sale and Madison Bumgarner.”
- The latest “here’s the issue with Jake Arrieta” piece from Jeff Sullivan is worth a read, as it looks at the possible mechanical issue Arrieta is battling with his timing, and the way you can “see” the problem manifesting itself in his peripherals against lefties. I knew lefties were having more success against Arrieta this year, but I didn’t realize how much more you see the command troubles against lefties – Arrieta’s K% minus BB% for his time with the Cubs has typically been in the 20% to 30% range (which is elite), but has plummeted this year to the 5% to 10% range.
- The Cubs flipped the rotation slightly, moving Jason Hammel up to today, and pushing Mike Montgomery to tomorrow. It gives Montgomery a little extra rest (there was also a chance the Cubs would need Montgomery out of the pen last night), and Hammel threw only 39 pitches in his last outing, so it made sense.
- This Steven Wright knuckleball is just silly. The catcher couldn’t even catch it, even though the pitch wound up right at him.
- Remember Cuban righty Vladimir Gutierrez? You might not, because he was last a big name on the international free agent scene almost a year ago. In any case, he finally signed, reportedly agreeing to a $4.25 million deal with the Reds. Part of that is undoubtedly a reflection of the market, where few big spenders are left able to spend on IFAs, but the bonus and the timeline is probably a reflection of Gutierrez not being close to the same level as the other Cuban righty with whom he was frequently discussed, Yadier Alvarez, who signed before the season for $16 million with the Dodgers.
- Samsung’s virtual reality headset is 40% off today at Amazon. I’ve still never tried a VR headset, unless you count Virtual Boy, which yes was a real thing, and was completely ridiculous with its red screen, no games, and stupid setup.