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MLBits: Pirates Helping in Puerto Rico, Otani is NASTY in Last Start, Cardinals Offseason Plans, More

MLB News and Rumors

I had a pretty wild morning today.

First, I woke up to the news that not only had I been verified on Twitter (score), but also that I was verified before my boss, Brett, who has far more followers and qualifications for the blue check mark than I do ( … double score?).


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But then, suddenly, I got frantic and scary phone call from my fiancée, who told me that she had just been involved in an accident on the highway. I leapt out of bed as fast as I could, jumped into my car (wearing the identical grey sweatpants and t-shirt I happened to wear to bed last night (#groutfit)), and drove nervously into traffic – for about an hour – before reaching her.

Fortunately, both she and the other driver were/are OK. Unfortunately, her car may have been totaled. I can’t say that I gleaned some thoughtful, cosmic revelation for you after the events of this morning, but I guess I can say that you just never know what kind of day it’s going to be until it happens.

Here’s some news from around the league …

  • Well, the Yankees beat the Twins in the AL Wild Card game last night – and in spectacular fashion. After their starter, Luis Severino, failed to get through even a single inning of work against the Twins (allowing three earned runs in just 0.1 IP), their sluggers and bullpen battled back before ultimately winning 8-4. They’ll now go on to face the Indians in the ALDS (give me the Indians, baby). Similarly, Rockies and Diamondbacks will clash in the NL Wild Card tonight, and the winner will get the honor of facing the Dodgers in the NLDS.

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  • Tomorrow, members of the Pirates will be hopping on a FedEx cargo plane to deliver 150,000 pounds of goods to the people of Puerto Rico and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has the story. “As an organization, obviously we’re always looking for opportunities to give back,” Pirates president Frank Coonelly said. “As soon as we saw the devastation of Hurricane Maria down there, we wanted to help.” I don’t think I can overstate how absolutely fantastic and endearing that is, and want to thank them for their efforts.
  • And if that’s not enough baseball-related positivity in the wake of tragedy for you, how about this: Brewers Minor Leaguer Bubba Derby shielded two young women during the shootings in Las Vegas on Sunday night. I know it’s difficult for many of you to take solace in anything after tragedies, but I truly find happiness in pointing towards the heroes of these events rather than lingering on the bad side.
  • Shohei Otani may have made his final start as a professional in Japan last night, and boy was it a good one. Otani turned in a two-hit shutout (striking out 10) for the Nippon Ham Fighters while batting cleanup. And before you go dreaming on his bat, take a look at his 99.4 MPH fastball at the end of the night:

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  • And then imagine preparing for that while this could be coming at any minute:

  • That’s just plain filthy. Apparently, many scouts and executives were in attendance last night, but make no mistake: every single Major League team will at least try to sign him if he’s made available.
  • Yesterday, we reported that the 2017 Cubs drew their fourth best attendance numbers at Wrigley Field in franchise history. But while the Cubs competitiveness and popularity has materialized well into ticket sales, the same isn’t true for every other team in baseball. The Cleveland Indians, for example, despite a 2016 World Series appearance and the best record in the American League this year, ranked 22nd in average attendance this season. But at Cincinnati.com, Dan Horn suggests that teams like the Indians and the Reds don’t deserve to be “attendance shamed.” When you consider market size, the Reds and Indians are both in the top ten in “per capita” attendance. (The Cubs are 10th, by the way.)

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  • The Cardinals are looking for a middle-of-the-lineup slugger this winter, and Josh Donaldson could be one of the targets, according to Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors. On top of Donaldson, I’ll add that the Cardinals were heavily connected to Giancarlo Stanton over the past year and at the trade deadline/this August and Stanton is likely to be shopped this winter.
  • More on the Cardinals at MLB Trade rumors, including their search for ninth inning help (in the wake of Trevor Rosenthal’s Tommy John surgery) and increased flexibility for 2018. A random note from that great piece: according to GM Mozeliak, catcher Yadier Molina is the only position player who’s spot on the field is firmly established for 2018. Whaaa?
  • One last bit from St. Louis: the Cardinals have notified longtime pitching coach Derek Lilliquist and bullpen coach Blaise Ilsley that their contracts would not be renewed for next season. Apparently, the team is looking for a pitching coach with a more modern approach to “starter usage and bullpen deployment.”
  • At FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan ranks all ten (now nine) playoff teams and it’s a fun one. By most of his measures, the Cubs fall behind the Nationals and Dodgers in the National League, while leading the Rockies and Diamondbacks. He had the Yankees as a better team than the Twins, too, so, I guess, so far he’s right. I can’t share much more because the fun is in the process. Go check it out.

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  • And finally, the Rangers have officially released Prince Fielder, who was still technically “with the team,” despite announcing that he could no longer play after undergoing neck fusion surgery late last season. Money was the reason the Rangers didn’t release him sooner, because as long as he’s on the roster, insurance has to kick $9 million their way to help cover his dead contract. But now, many are speculating that the two sides came to some sort of agreement regarding his contract going forward. No details have yet been shared. It’s a humble ending to Fielder’s otherwise powerful career.

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Michael Cerami

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