Pace-of-Play Meetings, Reliever Rankings, Kang's Rise and Fall, and Other Bullets

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Pace-of-Play Meetings, Reliever Rankings, Kang’s Rise and Fall, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News, MLB News and Rumors

WARNING: I’m (Michael) gonna talk *spoiler free* about Star Wars for a minute. If you don’t want to hear about it (because you’re a crazy person who somehow cares enough to not want it spoiled … but still haven’t found your way to a theater yet (or simply don’t care about Star Wars *gasp*), skip down to the Bullets. In any case, I’ll keep it spoiler free.

I liked it.

I didn’t immediately love it, to be sure, but the more time I’ve spent away from it, reading about it, and thinking about it, the more it’s grown on me. I know the general consensus is that is veered a bit too far away from whatever we all consider typical Star Wars stuff, but I think that precise uniqueness is actually in the spirit of the original trilogy. Plus, that *one* scene (I’m hoping you know which one) was like an all-time Star Wars great, in my book. Okay, time for baseball stuff.

  • Jerry Crasnick (ESPN) reports that officials from MLB and the Players Association have plans to meet in New York next week to discuss new pace-of-play initiatives to go in effect this season. Remember, the Commissioner actually has the power to make these moves unilaterally now, but he’s long suggested that he hopes to get the union on board first. According to Crasnick, and as expected, a pitch clock and a limitation on catcher-mound visits are the major changes under consideration. I am in favor of both. Oh, and remember: a pitch clock will also come with timed rules for the hitters, as well.
  • Sometime soon, we’re going to take a closer look at the historically loaded 2018-2019 free agent class we’re always talking about (the one with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado), but for now, I’d like to highlight the impressive group of relievers in that class. Among many other quality arms, you’ll find Craig Kimbrel, Andrew Miller, Zach Britton, Cody Allen, and David Robertson. That’s … wow. At ESPN, Buster Olney recently posted some power rankings of current relievers and three of those names – Kimbrel (2), Miller (3), and Robertson (9) made the cut. Meanwhile, Allen just missed the top ten and Britton would almost certainly be there if he were healthy.
  • Interestingly, no Cubs starting pitchers made it into Olney’s top ten power rankings, BUT Kyle Hendricks is the first “just missed” pitcher, as Brett previously discussed, and his inclusion was heavily lobbied. Suffice it to say, Hendricks is considered the 11th best starter in baseball.
  • It was Kris Bryant’s 26th birthday yesterday, and he got one heck of an incredible cake:

  • After losing more velocity on his fastball than almost any one else in baseball last season, the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright may be losing a grip on his spot in the rotation. Eno Sarris (FanGraphs), points out that some comments from GM John Mozeliak singling out Wainwright seem even more interesting in light of the Cardinals recent pursuit of Jake Arrieta. What do you think:

  • Calculated omission? Extremely weird mistake? Given the drop off in velocity Sarris lays out, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Cardinals begin sunsetting Wainwright into the bullpen as soon as this season – especially because they have some other quality arms to inject immediately in.
  • If you didn’t know, Pirates infielder Jung-Ho Kang, denied a U.S. visa last year after three DUIs in Korea, had been playing Winter Ball with the Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican Republic, where he hoped he could keep his skills sharp for the moment the U.S. allowed him back into the states. However, after a few months of really poor play, he’s been cut and didn’t sound particularly pleasant for anybody: “In an unfamiliar league, one operating on a short schedule and a sense of urgency, Kang wilted. He went hungry on late-night bus rides across the country. He lost 11 pounds in two months. ‘It came to a point where I didn’t think he was having fun,’ GM Manny Acta said, ‘and he wasn’t adjusting.'”
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
  • If you have the time, I strongly suggest reading Stephen Nesbitt’s article on Kang’s rise and fall, because the story is both amazing and very sad. He’s done some bad things in his adult life, but you can see the humanity there in the flaws, and you feel a little for the guy.
  • For the Pirates, they may just have to move on assuming they’ll never get Kang back. Quite a blow, considering the team-friendly deal they signed him to when he first came over from Korea, and the 6.0 WAR he was worth in just 229 games between 2015 and 2016.
  • The Yankees ZiPS projections are out, and here’s a graphical look at their roster’s 2018 outlook:

  • If the Yankees really get 11 total WAR out of Judge and Stanton and another nine WAR out of Severino and Tanaka, they might not even have to pull of that trade for Gerrit Cole, because they’ll be downright formidable. And then 8(!) WAR out of their bullpen? My God. The Red Sox will have to seriously consider some significant moves (like adding J.D. Martinez) if they’re going to compete this season – and they should go for it, given the dwindling years of control on Chris Sale.
  • Yu Darvish can pitch lefty, throwing 68 MPH while mixing in a slider and a changeup … clearly the Cubs need to sign him.
  • Baseball nightmares, albeit hilarious ones for us:


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Author: Michael Cerami

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