I’ll tell ya what, I was not very happy to wake up to reports that Yu Darvish’s market was being slowed by … everything (Rangers, Dodgers, Yankees, Brewers, Twins, and Cubs!), especially given the progress we seemed to make over the past two weeks.
It’s just getting ridiculous.
The Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton sagas feel like they happened in the blink of an eye compared to this, and those were not the shortest journeys, either. Sigh.
Here’s some news from around the league …
- Among the many key contributors to poor pace-of-play is the constant – but arguably necessary – mound visits from catchers switching up signals to combat sign-stealing. And although it may not directly address the non-technology-aided thefts (technology-aided sign-stealing remains illegal in baseball), Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the league is installing new phones in every dugout, which will be “recording and monitoring all discussions with the goal of eliminating sign-stealing conversations.” So now, if a player is stealing signs in the replay room, he’ll have to walk out to the dugout, relay the sign to the runner on second base, who will then signal the hitter at the plate … which is obviously a big obstacle vis a vis just phoning the dugout and letting someone know. Hopefully, this cuts down on sign-stealing and reduces the need for as many mound visits.
- Also, I don’t care if non-technology-aided sign-stealing isn’t technically illegal, just don’t do it (and you’re an absolute turd if you’re using watches/phones/tables in the process). I know there’s an incentive to get every edge you can, but how about you just go up there and swing the bat. Talk about not playing the game the way it was intended. Yeesh. Much more at The Athletic. [Brett: Eh, if you can steal signs with nothing but your eyes and brain, and can relay them without interfering with the pace-of-play, I’m fine with it in isolation. But if it’s a primary cause of excessive mound visits, then I suppose we’ve gotta talk about it.]
- Before this next bullet, I want to re-state something I said on Twitter the other day, so as not to be misunderstood: In the context of player salary and this free agent ice out, I feel very much pro-labor/pro-players. The revenue split between the owners and salary is probably not where it should be, and that’s a problem that needs to be addressed. HOWEVER, the Players Association had a seat the table when the last CBA was negotiated. Things like the luxury tax threshold and associated penalties, free agent compensation, and the incentives to prioritize young players for cost-control reasons weren’t just thrust upon the players. They made concessions to get other things they wanted, and that’s sorta their fault (at least, the negotiators).
- With that in mind, Oakland’s Brandon Moss echoes that sentiment in a very good interview on MLB Network:
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) January 30, 2018
- You can’t really blame the teams for playing by the rules that the players helped set up. The way it’s played out sucks – there’s no doubt about it – but I just don’t think it’s fair to say the teams are being unreasonable within the confines of this CBA.
- While fans of the Cubs, Nationals, and Padres continue to wait for their ZiPS projections (MUST I ALWAYS BE PATIENT?!), the Diamondbacks recently got their look and you can see it all here. And if you’re not looking to get into the nitty-gritty, here’s a snapshot:
2018 ZiPS Projections – Arizona Diamondbacks https://t.co/dql2NW6Ce6
— FanGraphs Baseball (@fangraphs) January 31, 2018
- Among the most interesting projections, is impending free-agent A.J. Pollock. After a monster season in 2015 (6.5 WAR, 131 wRC+), Pollock was injured for most of 2016 and had a middling 2017 campaign. If he can repeat anything close to his 2015 success in 2018, he’ll get PAID next year. But if his 2.1 WAR 2017 season is a new expectation, oof. Incredible how quickly he fell off.
- While there was really no doubt that Valdimir Guerrero was going to make it into Cooperstown, his *relatively* low WAR total (and a few other statistics) presented interesting criticisms. However, at FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan explains that different players (and different types of player) add value in different ways. And sometimes scouting the final numbers at the end of someone’s career can be misleading. It’s just an interesting all-around read if you have the time.
- At ESPN, David Schoenfield has an awesome post up on the biggest surprise sluggers from last season and if they’ll be able to repeat those gaudy numbers again in 2018. Obviously, at the top of the list, you have guys like Aaron Judge, Rhys Hoskins, Cody Bellinger, et all, but later on there are two very important Cubs-related names: Cardinals outfielder Tommy Pham and Brewers outfielder Domingo Santana – both of whom are crucial to the Cardinals’ and Brewers’ success in 2018.
- And in case you’re wondering, last season, Pham slashed .306/.411/.520 with 23 homers, but in 2018, he’s projected to regress quite a bit: .267/.357/.442, with 21 homers. That’s still a pretty excellent line, but it’s clearly far less than his big breakout. Similarly, Domingo Santana slashed .278/.371/.505 last season, but is projected for just .258/.353/.472 in 2018. Again, very good numbers in isolation, but very big drop offs from a year earlier. And now I’ll ask you, as a Cubs fan, if you could lock in those triple-slashes for both players … would you? You lose the risk of them absolutely falling off, but protect against the potential upside.
- Given Pham’s age at the time of his breakout (29), his .368 BABIP, 51.7 GB%, and 26.1 FB% I would absolutely NOT lock that projection in. I’m guessing he regresses a lot. Santana, 25, on the other hand … he might be ready for another solid season at the plate. Thoughts?
- Sticking with the NL Central, Cardinals starter (/prospect) Alex Reyes is eager to get back on the mound after a year of elbow rehabilitation. Reyes burst onto the scene in 2016 and was a threat to dominate in 2017, before going down with Tommy John surgery. But now, he’s healthy and in great shape (dropped about 10-15 pounds on purpose), and could turn into a thorn in the Cubs’ side for much of the season and many years to come. Speaking of which, Cardinals President John Mozeliak has a “soft date” of May 1 for Reyes’ return to the staff, but it’s not yet clear if he’ll start out in the rotation or bullpen. Obviously, Reyes can add value in the pen or rotation, but the latter is where his true upside remains. Hopefully, he’s out as long as possible, and then when he does return, he returns to the bullpen.
- Is today your birthday?
If you were born on January 31st, chances are you are pretty good at baseball. pic.twitter.com/ARmrPrQsq3
— MLB (@MLB) January 31, 2018
- If you haven’t seen/don’t remember the events that lead to the following collage, trust me and give it a watch. This has got to be one of the most insane and exciting endings to a game I’ve seen in a while. So much madness. So much chaos. So much fun:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) January 31, 2018