I’m very much excited for the Cubs/Red Sox matchup over the weekend, but I’m even more excited for the Cubs to return home …
… because I’ll be at the game on Monday night, and the sooner I’m back at Wrigley Field, the better (even if the forecast calls for rain and 56 degrees). If you also happen to be going to the game, I’ll be sitting in the bleachers somewhere, naturally, trying to stay dryer than I did on Opening Night.
And now, for some news from around the league …
- Although the Marlins sale to Derek Jeter and former presidential nominee Jeb Bush appeared to be on a steady path toward becoming official, that is not actually the case. While Bush and Jeter’s $1.34 billion bid was the selected winner, they still need to raise as much as $800-$900 million to complete the purchase. Their exclusive negotiating window reportedly lasts until some time in June, though, so they do have some time to raise the money. If they can’t, however, the $1.1 billion bid from the Tom Glavine and Tagg Romney group is still in play (as are others, apparently). Commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed that “there is no agreement in place,” and that the league was still working with more than one group. Kind of a mess, but fun to follow.
- Speaking of messes, the Mets are one of them – or so says Bill Baer of Hardball Talk. After losing to the Braves yesterday, the Mets have lost six straight games and have fallen to last place in the NL East. And to add insult to injury (or injury to injury, rather), Noah Syndergaard missed that start Thursday because he was/is experiencing “tired arm,” while Yoenis Cespedes came out in the 4th inning with an apparent hamstring injury and is headed to the disabled list. Yeesh. Rough week. For what it’s worth, FanGraphs still gives them a 38.3% chance of reaching the postseason one way or another (though their shot at the division is down to 6.0%).
- Also leaving a game with a sore hamstring is Brewers first baseman and MLB early-season surprise, Eric Thames. Thames, who’s currently in the middle of arguably the hottest start to the season this year, was taken out of Wednesday’s win against the Reds in the eighth. According to Thames, his left hamstring had been bothering him for about five days, before it became too much on Wednesday. Even still, he expects to be back in the lineup tonight against the Braves.
- And sticking with Thames for a moment, Dave Cameron provides us with a much-needed service. As you may know, Thames and the Brewers have played the Reds seven times already this season, wherein Thames has hit eight of his eleven home runs. As you may also know, the Reds set an all-time record for home runs allowed last year … and that was before they lost Anthony Desclafani, their best starting pitcher. So is Thames just crushing terrible pitching and that’s it? Nah … Even without the Reds, his 184 wRC+ is top ten in MLB (and that’s without taking away the other hitters’ “easiest” match-ups). Dude is just raking. What can you say?
- Masahiro Tanaka threw a Maddux: a complete game shutout in which the starter throws fewer than 100 pitches. And to make it even more Maddux-y, Tanaka allowed ZERO walks in the process. Pretty sweet … now opt out of your contract and come to the Cubs, amirite?
- One of the White Sox relievers, Tommy Kahnle, is having a blisteringly hot start to the season (27 batters faced, 15 strikeouts, 1 walk, 1 earned run), and Jeff Sullivan was determined to get to the bottom of it. Turns out, if you’ve always had the stuff, and finally tweak just the right thing, lots of success can follow. We’ll see if it lasts.
- Some moderately bumming news out of Kansas City (depending on how you take it): The Royals are not planning to activate Jorge Soler from Triple-A today (he was there on a rehab stint since last Friday) and instead intend on leaving him there until May 10th. While that is the natural end of his rehab assignment, he’s already played five games in Class AAA Omaha and was somewhat expected to return sooner than that. That said, GM Dayton Moore made it clear that the Royals are just trying to make sure he’s as healthy as possible, and that they’ve “learned … that these things are better off going slower ….” Get well soon, Georgie. We’d love to watch you rake.
- As I’m sure you’ve seen by now, ESPN has fired as many as 100 employees, many of whom covered baseball. In the wake of these budget cuts, we’ve also learned that “Baseball Tonight” will no longer be shown on a nightly basis, and will instead be aired before Sunday Night Baseball and other individual events (All-Star Game, Home Run Derby, postseason games, etc.). There will still be nightly baseball programming, mind you, but instead of “Baseball Tonight,” it’ll be MLBNs “Intentional Talk.” In Mike Oz’s words, ESPN has “outsourced” their nightly baseball coverage. According to Oz, however, David Ross and Mark Teixeira could be involved in some of that coverage, as will Rick Sutcliffe, Jessica Mendoza, Tim Kurkjian, Buster Olney, Keith Law, and many others.
- And finally, Oakland A’s pitcher Kendall Graveman pulled off a ridiculous play last night: the unassisted double play, featuring two tag outs at third base. So weird, so fun to see happen.