Well, given that the Cubs are in the middle of a four-game losing streak, let’s turn our attention out of Chicago for a bit and check in on some news from around the league …
- As you know, we are very interested in possible extensions for young stars, given the Cubs’ own crop. Shortstop Carlos Correa wouldn’t close the door on a potential multi-year extension with the Astros “if the price was right,” but that apparently comes with one additional caveat: only if the extension happens before he hits arbitration (2019). These reports come in response to comments made by his agent last Thursday which flatly read, “Carlos is never going to do an (early) multiyear contract.” So in short, sure, he’s open to an extension, Houston, but it has to happen over the next year and a half and it has to be worth a lot of money, otherwise “there’s no turning back.”
- Earlier today, word broke that the Pirates’ center fielder, Starling Marte, was handed an 80-game suspension for PEDs, but if you recall that’s far from the Pirates only ongoing personnel problem. Jung Ho Kang was recently handed an eight-month prison sentence (to be delayed two years) after his third DUI in Korea, but he’s been awaiting an appeal on the decision. Reports on Twitter indicate that the official hearing is set for May 25, but even if the outcome is in his favor, he’ll still need a work-visa for the U.S.
- If you’d like to read Anthony Rizzo’s reaction to Marte’s suspension, Big League Stew has ’em:
— Big League Stew (@bigleaguestew) April 18, 2017
- The St. Louis Cardinals have gotten off to one of the worst starts (4-9) in the past thirty years of the organization, and according to General Manager John Mozeliak “everything is on the table” to address it. What he exactly means isn’t clear, but his comments beyond those five words were quite cryptic, too: “I think the simplest approach would be for everybody to do their job and do it right. And if so, I think we have the talent to be successful.” Is that a jab at someone, in particular, just a hollow response to a reporter’s question, or something else entirely? I’m not sure, but the Cardinals do seem to be scrambling at the moment. (Of course, as Cubs fans would tell you: it’s early.)
- Dodgers starter (and $48 million free-agent acquisition) Rich Hill has found his way back onto the 10-day disabled list for the second time this season, as his chronic blister issues continues to be, well, chronic. Manager Dave Roberts said that he’s at a loss for words, and the team is open to anything, because as of now, he’s “baffled” by the problem. The team isn’t sure what they’re ultimately going to do, but rest might not actually be the answer (he rested all offseason, after dealing with this problem last season too). He could spend some time in the bullpen or change his grip, but neither option is particularly attractive. It’s another wait and see.
- At Vice Sports, our friend Rian Watt discusses an unusual absence of fastballs at the Major League level this season. Apparently, big-league pitchers are throwing fewer fastballs (as a percentage of total pitches) than they have in ten years (66.1% in 2008, 62.0% so far this season). Watt thinks the change might be related to differences in both opportunity and behavior, but you’ll have to go read his article to find out exactly what he’s learned. As always, Watt is an excellent read.
- At Baseball is Fun, I asked the question Who the heck is Eric Thames?, because his offensive prowess against the Cubs was starting to annoy me. Yesterday, you might recall, the Brewers slugger came just a triple short of the cycle against Chicago – including his sixth homer in just five games. He’s now hitting .405/.479/.1000 on the season. At FanGraphs, however, Dave Cameron writes that while the homers are fun, one particular stat – Z-Contact% – is the real reason the Brewers should be pretty excited about the first two weeks of Thames.
- Earlier, Brett talked about a possible replay change that could have fans finally clued in on why replay decisions are made.
- And finally, Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts has not yet struck out this season, extending an MLB Leading 122 plate appearances dating back to last September. Unbelievable. Must be nice.