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MLBits: Morrow’s Potential Contract/Heavy Usage, Phillies New Manager, the Slick Ball Theory, More

Chicago Cubs Rumors, MLB News and Rumors

Anyone else going to see Arcade Fire at the United Center tonight? I’ll be there, somewhere in the general admission pit, wearing my favorite Cubs quarter-zip (What? It breathes well!). If you see me, give me a holler.


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But before that, let’s check in on some news from around the league …

  • They may not have announced it formally yet, but the Philadelphia Phillies have a new manager, Gabe Kapler. Kapler, 42, doesn’t have a ton of actual managerial experience (just one year as a Class A manager in the Red Sox system), but he comes with a glowing review from Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman, whose opinion, I suspect, carries a lot of weight around baseball. In fact, Kapler spent a year as Friedman’s player development director and nearly beat out Dave Roberts for the Dodgers managerial gig, himself. Now, he’ll get a chance to manage a team that appears to be on the rise in a division that could open up a bit after 2018.
  • And if you’re keeping score at home, yes, three of the five NL East teams have new managers, and the other two were hired within the last two years.
    • Phillies: Kapler (new)

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    • Mets: Mickey Callaway (new)
    • Nationals: Dave Martinez (new)
    • Marlins: Don Mattingly (2016)
    • Atlanta Braves: Brian Snitker (2016)
  • At MLB Trade Rumors, Mark Polishuk points out that potential Cubs offseason target, reliever Brandon Morrow, has been used in 11 of the Dodger’s 12 postseason games this winter. Given what we know of his injury history and the issues of overuse, that could be a potential red flag. With that said, Joel Sherman of the New York post estimates that Morrow might *only* be looking at a three-year/$22M deal in free agency this winter (the Ryan Madson deal), so maybe the commitment won’t be a huge risk.
  • The Cubs, you may recall, are reportedly looking at Morrow to fill one of the many needs in their bullpen.
  • According to Sports Illustrated, pitchers and coaches from both the Astros and Dodgers are complaining that the baseballs used in the World Series are “slicker” than usual, impacting, most notably, the ability to effectively wield a slider. I’d pick out a quote from the SI article to help express how seriously the players support this theory, but there’s too many from which to choose. Basically, both sides agree that something’s off, though this obviously affects pitchers who throw a lot of sliders more than others. So, I guess, yeah, the balls are now slick and juiced. They’re Sluiced.

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  • But wait a second … not everyone agrees:

  • Unlike the juiced ball problem, something that’s been studied by many outlets all season long, this slick ball problem will have a little bit less visibility in the short term. We could maybe measure the average spin rates and see if that’s been affected, but there definitely won’t be a resolution before the World Series is over. Shrug. We’ll have to check into it over the offseason.

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  • But don’t think you’re done with the baseball just yet – it’s kinda important! At FanGraphs, Eno Sarris asks if juiced balls lead to straighter pitches? Basically, as the theory goes, the tighter a ball is wound, the less air resistance it produces, and, thus, the faster it goes. And given that 1) movement decreases as velocity increases and 2) the baseballs are wound tighter than ever, Sarris could be on to something. Read more at FanGraphs.
  • Remember when Wade Davis was listed as a finalist for ” NL Reliever of the Year,” back at the beginning of October? Well, understandably, the award in the NL went to the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen. On the American League side, Craig Kimbrel of the Boston Red Sox took it home. Both winners feel perfectly appropriate and deserving of the honor.
  • I wish I could just copy and paste this for you, but that would really be unfair. So, I’ll just say you should REALLY go check out “World Series Game 5 by the Numbers,” from Bill Baer at NBC sports. It’s basically just a quick rundown of the RIDICULOUS numbers posted in that game and it’s fun to see from a high level.
  • Speaking of that ridiculous Game 5, Jeff Sullivan covers all the times that game seemed over, because, wow, there were a lot. At one point or another, the Dodgers were up 4-0, 7-4, and 8-7 as well as the Astros being up 11-8. The game, of course, ended in extra innings with a final score of 13-12, so if you didn’t watch, you can imagine how often each side thought they had things locked down.

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  • Speaking of which, that feeling of “Oh, it’s over now …. wait, no it’s not” wasn’t isolated to last night. In fact, the Dodgers and Astros have set a new World Series record for most game-tying home runs. The previous mark was set in 1974, so this was quite a long-standing record (#Sluicedballtheory).
  • The Dodgers are now one game away from elimination, but are heading back to Los Angeles for the final two contests (if necessary). Yasiel Puig, for one, isn’t ready to back down: “My team, this is not going to be finished Tuesday,” Puig said with his ever-present confidence. Interestingly, from MLB.com: “Since 1985, teams trailing 3-2 in any best-of-seven series (LCS and World Series) and heading home for Games 6-7 have come back to win 14 of 28 times. When those teams win Game 6 at home, they have gone 14-2 in Game 7.”
  • Game Five had all sorts of crazy storylines:


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Michael Cerami

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