You know, it’s funny … I *really* expected the Yu Darvish signing to break things up for everybody else, at least for free agents like Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb. Really, this time! Come on, really! But nope!
But also … I don’t care nearly as much anymore, so long as everyone eventually finds a job (more on that in a second), because the Cubs already got their guy, and it’s YU FREAKIN’ DARVISH. I think we forget just how awesome it is to land such a talented pitcher on such a seemingly great deal.
Basically, within one year, the Chicago Cubs acquired the TOP available free agent starting pitcher and the TOP available trade target.
And they added them to the *two* 2016 Cy Young finalists already in their rotation.
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) February 15, 2018
It’s madness, I tell you. Madness.
From elsewhere around the league …
- We‘re potentially in store for some big pace-of-play news later today, but it’s possible that the league and union might continue talking into next week:
Sources: While MLB was hopeful to have pace-of-play negotiations wrapped up by today, the league and union will continue dialogue into next week. If progress has not been made by then, MLB could unilaterally impose new rules. No drop-dead date has been set yet, but it's coming.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 15, 2018
- But don’t get me wrong, that’s a good thing. The best case scenario, in my opinion, is still that the two sides can come to an agreement to help address pace-of-play and how they can sell the changes to the fans/players.
- Still, I fear that even if the union gets behind a deal, they’ll have plenty of selling to do among their own ranks. Kenley Jansen for one example, thinks the entire premise is stupid: “That’s ridiculous,” Jansen said on Wednesday morning before the first official workout for Dodgers pitchers and catchers. “Football is four hours, four and a half hours. The Super Bowl was five hours. Listen man, baseball fans are not going to stop watching the game because the game is too long. Let’s stop that. I think that’s ridiculous.”
- That seems to miss the point. The length of these games is not only not the problem. It’s not even the target of the PACE OF PLAY solutions. I don’t know how many times I’ll have to write that the league is trying to shorten the dead time between actual baseball action and not the overall length of ballgames. The length shrinking up is mostly just a byproduct of reducing dead time. MOREOVER, the hardcore baseball fan might not care about dead time or long games, but that’s just one group of fans, whose ranks will continue to shrink anyway as they literally die off, if no more new fans are brought into the picture.
- Notice, by the way, I’m not saying a pitch clock is a required solution. I’m open to suggestions … just not the suggestion that there’s not a problem, because in the very long term, there is. And the time to act is before things blow up, not after they do.
- Hey, I know this guy (I’m happy Mark Prior has found a solid job in baseball):
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) February 15, 2018
- According to super-agent Scott Boras, free agency has finally begun! “For all my clients, the phone has been more akin to what you would expect for free agency in December,” Boras said. “It’s been more like that in the last week.” He wouldn’t really expand on any timelines or expectations, but I think, given the way things have been, and given his way, he probably wouldn’t just say this out of nowhere if it weren’t at least somewhat true. Whew.
- Russell A. Carleton (Baseball Prospectus) points out that while there seems to be something wrong with the free agent market, by at least one measure, there’s not. Last season, teams were willing to pay about $10.5 million per WARP and this year, that numbers up to $11.3M/WARP already. Obviously, things have taken very long and the reports of low offers are out there, but just putting that angle on your radar.
- At FanGraphs, Travis Sawchik explores whether (former Cubs free agent target) Alex Cobb will ever get “The Thing” back (i.e. his trademark split-changeup). “His unique offspeed pitch had been among the best offerings in the game. The pitch had a positive linear-weight mark every year of his career, peaking with a with a 21.2 run value in 2014. Batters hit .191 against the pitch in 2014 and slugged.257.” It’s no secret that Cobb has excellent upside – that’s why the Cubs (and we!) were so keen on targeting him early on, but reaching his ceiling will depend largely on if he can find the changeup again. And in any case, this is an interesting topic to cover for any pitcher trying to find his groove, post-Tommy John surgery, especially as it relates to getting the feel back on a certain pitch.
- At MLB.com, Joe Trezza asks and answers a number of questions the Cardinals are facing heading into the 2018 season, including the one I want to know the most: How much does Adam Wainright have left? As Trezza puts it, the success of the Cardinals’ rotation could hinge on whether or not Wainwright is, you know, any good this season. After all, he’s 36 and is coming off elbow surgery. According to his ZiPS projections, Wainwright will still be an above average pitcher next season (97 ERA-), but just barely (17.9K%, 1.6 WAR).
- The Cubs’ former Minor League Pitching Coordinator and current Brewers’ pitching coach, Derek Johnson, is getting high praise from his staff in Milwaukee. Grumble.
- Two days into Spring Training 2016, Jake Peavy learned that a financial advisor, in whom he entrusted his retirement savings, lost $15M-$20M of Peavy’s money in a Ponzi-like scheme. Then, three days after that season ended, he was served divorce papers. He took the 2017 season off to deal with all that fallout. But now, he is working out and gearing up for a big-league showcase around May 1. Peavy wants to make a comeback and given the tumultuous few years he’s had, it’s a story to follow.
- Shohei Ohtani made his Spring Training debut yesterday in Arizona after first meeting with the press, and finally got to work on the field – running drills with the pitchers and taking BP with the hitters. But despite what’s being described as “hordes” of cameras following him around, Ohtani isn’t shook: “Honestly, since my days in Japan, I never really felt that pressure that everyone’s been talking about around me,” Ohtani said via MLB.com. “I just feel like I’ve got to go there, do my job and help the team win. That’s my No. 1 goal is to help the team win.”
- And finally, Jose Altuve is hilarious … Watch as he tries (and fails) to enact the hidden ball trick by sticking it in his back pocket. Chris Carter (then with the Brewers) is like … what the hell are you doing, dude?