The closer we get to baseball season, the more there is to talk about around MLB.
I can dig that.
Obviously the big MLB news is the long-awaited Cardinals punishment, about which I found the coverage curious:
— Luis M. (@lcm1986) January 30, 2017
Elsewhere around baseball …
- Frank Thomas, who had a Hall of Fame career with the White Sox, Athletics, and Blue Jays isn’t thrilled with the idea of suspected PED users getting inducted to the Hall of Fame. The Big Hurt spoke at SoxFest on Saturday, where he took an all-or-nothing stance on Hall of Fame inductions (Tribune): “Now some guys are getting passes and some guys are not. It’s wrong. … If you’re going to punish Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens, how can you let the rest of these guys get in? Either you let all those guys in and put them in a special wing or you clean it up and keep everybody out.”
- Who is “getting a pass” in Thomas’s view? He didn’t name anyone explicitly, but the fairly clear implication was that Thomas sees two of this year’s inductees, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez, as tainted. Neither was ever suspended or tested positive for PEDs, but suspicions have swirled for years, fairly or unfairly.
- Arizona Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall has quite the mess on his hands after the brief, yet ever-so-damaging run of the front office tandem of Dave Stewart and Tony La Russa. Hall told MLB Network Radio Network “We probably had ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ If we had to do it over again, we probably wouldn’t have done it that way.” The disastrous three-year run ended that this winter seems to have filled Hall with regret, but only after Arizona plummeted to a 69-win season despite spending more than $200 million on Zack Greinke and sending top prospect Dansby Swanson (plus much more) to the Braves for Shelby Miller to boost the rotation.
- Meanwhile, the new crew, led by former Red Sox executive Mike Hazen, is extremely well-regarded, including his Assistant GM Jared Porter – formerly the Pro Scouting Director of the Cubs.
- The Atlanta Braves confirmed that Sean Rodriguez and his family were involved in a car accident over the weekend in Miami. Rodriguez, who signed a two-year deal with the Braves after spending the last two years with the Pirates, didn’t require hospitalization, but his wife (fair condition) and two children (serious, but stable condition) were admitted to Miami hospitals. Hopefully, only good news comes out of this situation for Rodriguez and his family.
- For the first time since 2002 – aka, the final year before Theo Epstein took over as GM – the Boston Red Sox took a player to arbitration. It’s reliever Fernando Abad, who sought $2.7 million, while the Red Sox offered $2 million.
- After dominating the Minor League Baseball circuit, Julio Urias made his Major League debut at age 19 and pitched to a 3.39 ERA/3.19 FIP/3.69 xFIP while striking out 25 percent of the batters he faced in 18 games (15 starts). However, that performance might not guarantee him a spot on the Opening Day roster. Urias could start the season at extended spring training in an attempt to limit his innings in his age 20 season. He is listed as the No. 4 starter on the Dodgers depth chart, with Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Alex Wood listed behind him. This could be a brilliant strategy for the Dodgers if the team plays deep into October again, as having a fresher Urias could be a difference maker in a postseason series.
- Team USA’s rotation added some depth Monday when it was reported that Oakland Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray was joining the team. Gray suffered through his most tumultuous season as a big leaguer, posting a 5-11 record and 5.69 ERA in only 117 innings. This came off a 2015 season in which Gray finished third in the AL Cy Young vote and pitched to a 28-17 record, 2.91 ERA and 131 ERA+ in his first two full seasons as a Major League starter. Rumors about a midseason trade will persist.
- Last we saw Jeff Manship, he was on the mound for the Indians in Game 6 of the World Series. Fast forward through an offseason in which he was non-tendered after he posted a 2.07 ERA in 82.2 innings in his Cleveland career and we learn Manship is headed to play professionally for the Korean Baseball Organization on a one-year deal. Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer writes move gives us a glimpse at how teams are balancing new and old school perspectives and metrics with regards to player evaluation through the lens of Manship’s move.
- Between their run to the World Series and the announcement of the All-Star Game being hosted at Progressive Field in 2019, the Cleveland Indians have been front-and-center of the baseball world since the fall. And because of that, the Indians’ Chief Wahoo logo has become a topic of conversation again. Commissioner Rob Manfred says conversations are ongoing about the logo, but no timetable for a decision has been reached.
- Colby Rasmus had a great year defensively by the metrics in 2016, but he didn’t take home a Gold Glove. That happens all the time. But in Rasmus’s case, he seems to believe it was a combination of not being liked around the league (because of Tony La Russa) and being a “redneck.”
- Over at Baseball Is Fun, a Hall of Fame pitcher with a big bat calls his shot – and we’re not talking about Babe Ruth. Check out Randy Johnson (yes, that 53-year-old giant pitcher Randy Johnson) at USC’s alumni game.
- Also, an unaffiliated short-season league is going with a new rule for settling games tied after 10 innings: a home run derby. You in?
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.