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MLBits: Jeter’s Reign Begins, Wainwright Surgery, Otani as a Pitcher First, Moments of the Year, More

MLB News and Rumors

FINALLY, it’s today.

After absolutely no games were played yesterday, the 2017 AL Wild Card matchup between the Yankees and Twins will break the monotony of life without baseball and give us something to do tonight.


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But while I’m excited for that game, I’m not looking forward to an entire offseason without my daily dose of baseball. Hopefully, like last year, the Cubs make the wait as short as possible.

Let’s talk about some news from around the league …

  • Derek Jeter has written an open letter to Marlins fans discussing his plans for the franchise … in about the most general way possible. The letter was lined with phrases like “we’re going to develop a winning culture,” and “we believe in the Marlins’ organization,” which, like, yeah, okay. Cool. I’m not saying it wasn’t worth doing (fans like personal messages from ownership), but in terms of specifics, I don’t think a guy who reportedly wants to be the President of Baseball Operations could’ve written a more generic set of promises.
  • But don’t worry, Marlins fans, because Jeter has big (interesting, confusing, and possibly shocking) plans:

  • What sort of “plan” involving Stanton – a player who is already under a massive contract – is he expecting to come up with? I genuinely don’t know what this could mean, unless it’s finding out which teams to which he’d accept a trade. In fact, maybe that’s precisely it …

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  • The Marlins are a struggling team, but they do have a ton of interesting young pieces to build around (Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, Stanton). Given the upcoming options in free agency, they don’t necessary have to rebuild, if they didn’t want to. But it sure sounds like they will.
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
  • Thanks primarily to injuries, Dexter Fowler recorded the fewest plate appearances of his career as a regular starter here in 2017. Indeed, he appeared in just 118 games and managed to step up to the plate just 491 times by the end of the season. He plans on focusing on his health more significantly next season. Also in that article: Yadier Molina is flying to Puerto Rico to personally deliver relief supplies and funds to help the island after it was decimated by Hurricane Maria. Well done, Yadi. Very well done.

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  • Sticking with the Cardinals … Adam Wainwright, who also missed plenty of time this year thanks to injury (the latest being an elbow impingement), is scheduled to have arthroscopic elbow surgery today, but should be ready for action by Spring Training. Mike Matheny added that the surgery was nothing more than “a cleanup,” and that he fully expects Wainwright to be a part of his rotation next season. Okie dokie. Wainwright, 36, posted a 5.11 ERA this year, and was worth 1.5 WAR, his lowest total over a full season since he became a starting pitcher.
  • The LA Times has a lengthy profile on Japanese superstar Shohei Otani and it’s definitely worth a read. Among the focuses of the article (down the page), is whether he’s a true hitter or a true pitcher. One MLB executive believes it’s easier to project him as a pitcher, while Ichiro Suzuki said he’s a more talented hitter than anything else. Hiroshi Sasaki, Otani’s former high school coach and current advisor/confidant suggested that while Otani may have more fun hitting dingers, pitching is his “true work.” Perhaps that’s good news for a DH-less Cubs team?
  • While I’m sure you could’ve guessed that bullpens are eating up more and more innings as time has gone on, I doubt you’ve realized just how extreme that move has been here in 2017. According to the data presented at FanGraphs by Travis Sawchik, well, take a look and a read for yourself:

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  • Not entirely unrelated, there’s also this:

  • At the Wall Street Journal, Jared Diamond discusses how baseball’s data revolution has been the primary driver of the game slowing down and been less action packed. And with more home runs, more strikeouts, and more matchup relievers than usual, he’s not wrong. [Brett: Also, look at that number to the far right in the graphic. That’s the big one, and it’s the one driving MLB’s urgency to get pace of play changes enacted quickly.]
  • In case you’re interested, Craig Calcaterra has all of the Wild Card and Divisional series umpire assignments right here at NBC Sports. Personally, I like to stay away so that I don’t get too wrapped up in the stuff that’s entirely out of the Cubs control.

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  • The Indians have revealed their NLDS rotation, and it’s kind of strange in the front two:

  • MLB has started a diversity fellowship specifically aimed at women and people of color, both historically underrepresented in MLB front offices. The program will place 20 candidates with various teams throughout the league and another three with the MLB head offices in New York. Given that baseball has always been an overwhelmingly white male sport, but one with fans of all backgrounds, I think we can all agree that incorporating other perspectives is a good goal – this program seems to be a good way to get that process jumpstarted.
  • When MLB released its top five moments of 2017 today, a few things crossed my mind: 1. Where’s Javy? 2. I can’t believe Chris Coghlan’s leaping dive over Yadier Molina was this year (feels like forever ago), and 3. How can they skip the Austin Jackson catch? How do you think they did?

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Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.