I still can’t get over the fact that Spring Training is already here.
I know the Cubs games in November actually did make the offseason shorter in length, but damn, did it really fly by.
Throw in the fact that it’s supposed to be 60 degrees and sunny throughout the weekend here in Chicago, and it really does feel like summer and baseball time.
- Now that the Cubs have won the World Series, are you feeling any latent emptiness? In other words, has the lack of a century-long streak heading into next season changed your fandom at all? If so, I’ll remind you that the Cubs still have another one to break. This summer, they’ll attempt to win back-to-back World Series for the first time in 109 years! (Previously 1907-1908.) So there you go! The quest continues.
- And if they win this year, they’ll be trying to reach three-straight World Series for the first time in 110 years! So you see, there’s always something!
- Among the teams standing in the way of the Cubs is the St. Louis Cardinals (typical). Of course, if you’ve been following along, you’ll know that the Cardinals just sustained an enormous blow to their 2017 chances, when it was revealed that young pitcher Alex Reyes requires Tommy John surgery and will miss all of 2017. Aside from the obvious net team loss, ESPN Chicago’s Buster Olney writes about the six folks who’ll be most impacted by Reyes’ injury: 1) Michael Wacha, 2) GM John Mozeliak, 3) the bullpen, 4) Lance Lynn, 5) the offense, and 6) Adam Wainwright.
- Olney also writes that, had this injury revelation come a few weeks sooner, the Cardinals may have pursued Jason Hammel or Travis Wood, to plug up some of the innings that’ll be needed over next season, but now things are different. Via MLBTradeRumors, each of Ken Rosenthal and Jennifer Langosch are reporting that the Cardinals are likely to stand pat before the season starts, and use Spring Training to evaluate arms like Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver, and even former closer Trevor Rosenthal (who was at one time a future starter) for the back of the rotation. For more on each of those options, check out Steve Adams work at MLBTradeRumors – those three are not perfect, but they do have youth and some legitimate upside in their favor.
- Spring Training tends to be the time of year when contract extensions are most frequently discussed – like the Cubs with Jake Arrieta – but the New York Mets may be sitting on the sideline, at least with their starting pitchers. Indeed, in a report at Newsday, Marc Carig suggests that the Mets are not planning to engage any of their young starting pitchers about potential extensions during camp, and the players are similarly unmotivated to get the ball rolling. “Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz would be the most logical candidates for extensions,” Carig writes. “But all except for Syndergaard are coming off surgery. And all aside from Harvey are under team control for at least three more seasons.”
- To be sure, it’s not as though contract extensions must be discussed every single Spring, and there are clearly some reasons why both sides could be uninterested, but it’s still a fairly interesting story. And at the same time, Neil Walker remains a candidate for extension, if the Mets are able to find some room in the payroll (which is already projected to be north of $150 million in 2017). Walker, 31, is set to be a free agent at the end of the season. More on the Mets and potential extensions at Newsday.
- Similarly, in Texas, fans are excited about the Rangers’ dynamic one-two punch of Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish … but might only get to see it on the field for one more season. After making $11 million in 2017, Darvish will become a free agent next winter, where he’ll likely be heavily courted by a great many teams. And although the Rangers would love to keep him in Texas, there haven’t been any conversations so far. At Sports Day, Evan Grant writes that while a contract in the $150 million neighborhood might be required to lock down Darvish, money may not be the only reason the Rangers don’t resign him.
- Former Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart recently appeared on MLB Network Radio (Wednesday) to discuss and reflect on his time in charge of the Diamondbacks. At NBC Sports, Bill Baer collected some of his comments and discussed them. Among the most notable bits, Stewart says that he should have stuck with his gut and not traded Dansby Swanson (yuuup), and that it was difficult to do his job when there were “3 people above me.” The comment that stuck with me the most, however, was this one:
Dave Stewart: "(I) pretty much took the blame for a lot of the negatives when it was a group decision not just a single decision."
— MLB Network Radio (@MLBNetworkRadio) February 16, 2017
- I understand very much that a GM doesn’t act alone, and the operations structure in his time there was confusing (I’m still not quite sure if he was running things, if Tony La Russa was running things, or if someone else was), but there’s certainly accountability there. I couldn’t ever imagine, for example, Jed Hoyer saying something like, “Well the trade didn’t go in our favor, but Theo Epstein and Jason McLeod were part of the reason we went for it, too.” Owning a big seat comes with a lot of scrutiny and a lot of responsibility. Stewart took much of the blame, because he would have gotten much of the credit if things went differently.
- As we expected:
#Braves announce Sean Rodriguez underwent surgery yesterday to repair left rotator cuff. Likely out for the season, according to sources.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 15, 2017
- We discussed Rodriguez’s injury earlier, and the Braves corresponding reaction to trade for Brandon Phillips, this is just further confirmation that he may well indeed be out for the season.
- As they often do, a wonderful story has developed out of a tragic event. As you undoubtedly know by now, Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura passed away after a car accident recently. And in an attempt to begin consoling Ventura’s mother, his teammate, Danny Duffy, bid $100 on a Ventura bobblehead to give to his mother and had it shipped to the address 1 Royals Way. Here’s what happened next:
“The seller noticed [the address], someone tweeted about it and the kind gesture found an unexpected audience. At first, Duffy chafed at the publicity, but then something wonderful started to happen. Someone sent him a limited-edition baseball card of Ventura, 1 of 1. And another person sent a different Ventura bobblehead. And a different person sent Ventura’s Lego likeness. And others sent handwritten notes. And the mail just kept coming, volumes of it, enough that Duffy’s locker at Kauffman Stadium turned into a makeshift memorial to his teammate, his friend.”
- You can read much more about this story at Yahoo Sports.
- As was recently rumored, the Tampa Bay Rays have made an offer to free agent catcher Matt Wieters. However, according to Marc Topkin, the offer is likely for one year and a lot less than Wieters (and agent Scott Boras) were hoping to get. The Rays, you’ll recall, also have Wilson Ramos in the fold after signing him to a two-year, $12.5 million deal earlier this offseason, but he’ll start the inning on the disabled list and might then see some time split between catcher and DH.
- Wieters is coming off his fourth All-Star season, in which he hit 17 home runs. That he hasn’t found a home yet then, is surprising (especially because he isn’t attached to draft pick compensation). However, early in the year, reports suggested that he was looking for a lengthy four-year deal, so maybe the market just never developed. He’ll eventually settle for something, but I still bet he gets more than one-year guaranteed.
- Officially official:
#Yankees have made Chris Carter signing official
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 16, 2017
- At Baseball is Fun, we discuss the end of the Marlins positively medieval, one-year “No Facial Hair!” rule. We also have a little fun at the expense of a possibly returning Brian Wilson who may or may not have shaved his famous beard just to try out for Miami.
- And relatedly, Miami owner Jeffrey Loria (who might’ve been the mastermind behind the no facial hair rule in the first place) continues to make headlines, as his team is potentially up for sale. The twist, however, is that Loria’s plans after selling the team might get in the way of the sale in the first place.