MLBits: Expansion Changes, Lackey Contract Offer, Trucking Catchers, Nolan Ryan's Insane Feat, More

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MLBits: Expansion Changes, Lackey Contract Offer, Trucking Catchers, Nolan Ryan’s Insane Feat, More

MLB News and Rumors

I have eaten dinner – successfully – just about every single night of my life, but tonight, I’ll rehearse the process, just in case I forget.

I kid, of course, but we are having our rehearsal dinner tonight, and I gotta say … the timing is great. With that tonight, I won’t miss the Cubs/Cardinals game tomorrow or Sunday (because it’s a late game). I know I’ve got a lot to focus on this weekend … but it’s not like I want to completely skip a Cubs/Cards series.

  • It seems pretty clear to me that changes are coming to the game of baseball, both on the field and off. And while we’ve spent plenty of time focusing on the pitch clocks and mound visit side of things, the changes I’m most excited for are tied to expansion. From the sounds of it, two more teams *will* be added to the league at some point within the next decade, and, honestly, I think that’s fun. Not only will there be two more teams and two more logos and two more stadiums and all that comes with that, there could be a significant shakeup to the league itself, one that I think will be for the better.
  • With 32 teams instead of 30, the league could restructure to two 16-team leagues, with four divisions a piece. The leagues and divisions can be more geographically sound and lead to shorter and more fair/consistent travel schedules, as well as more uniform rules (like the DH (oh, shut up)). But best of all, expansion could also lead to to more teams making the playoffs, which should help cut down on the desire to “tank”, which will make the entire sport more watchable for more fans for longer stretches of the season. Frankly, I’m on board from top to bottom and I think you should be, too. But regardless of where you fall on the issue, you should check out Jayson Stark’s piece on it at The Athletic for more, including potential cities where expansion could happen, how it would work, what could change, and when it could all happen.
  • “At the end of this month there will be more strikeouts in half a season than there were in the entire 1980 season.” That’s the hook of Tom Verducci’s latest at Sports Illustrated, and if it doesn’t have you interested, I don’t know what will. Indeed, there’s a strikeout issue in baseball, which we already knew, but Verducci offers three ways to fix it: Lowering the mound, limiting the number of pitchers allowed on a roster, adopting a pitch clock. I’m not sure I love any of the three more than another (I just haven’t decided yet), but I agree that something probably has to be done.
  • Buried in this Clay Buchholz is friends with Donald Trump article is a surprisingly interested revelation. According to Bob Nightengale, Buchholz has the job John Lackey rejected over the winter. Apparently, Lackey was unwilling to sign a cheap-minor-league deal with the Diamondbacks, but Buchholz was. But that’s not all! Buchholtz also claims that he “fully expects [Lackey] to be with some club at some point this year,” because he knows “for a fact that he still works out and keeps his body ready.” Pretty wild revelation and I wouldn’t mind seeing Lackey in the Majors again this season … even if only from a distance.
  • If you somehow missed this big bummer: Miguel Cabrera ruptured a tendon in his biceps on a swing this week and will be forced out for the entire year. “I’m like, in shock right now,” Cabrera said. “Because I’m not going to be able to play more this year. It’s tough, but in the same way, I gotta go out and fix it and try to come back better.” I feel like we’re witnessing the end of an era. For over a decade now, Cabrera has been one of the very best players in baseball, but after a bad back led to a negative WAR season in 2017 and this bicep injury is ending his year, it feels like it’s all coming to an end. And the worst part is Cabrera was hitting fairly well again this season (.299/.395/.448). Sure that’s a far cry from his best days, but you’ll take that from a 35-year-old with over 70 WAR in his career every day of the week. Cabrera is a sure-fire future Hall-of-Famer, but I don’t want to start that yet. I still want to watch him play.
  • The home plate collision continues to incite drama, as the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp trucked through Rangers’ Robinson Chirinos at the plate – full-on old-school style – in the bottom of the third inning yesterday, causing both benches to clear and a pretty significant fight to take place. But here’s perhaps the craziest part: Kemp was tagged and called out, but had he slid, according to the home plate umpire, he would’ve have been safe *even if he was tagged first*, because he would have (a) attempted a legal slide while (b) the catcher was illegally blocking the bag. Clearly, MLB needs to update/clarify/change this rule. Keeping catchers safe should still be a priority, but the ambiguity and senselessness is so frustrating, and it could wind up putting runners at risk for injury instead (as we nearly saw with Albert Almora).
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
  • Speaking of the Dodgers and Rangers, check out this insane shift:

  • Joey Gallo, man. He gets the craziest of the shifts.
  • Do you know who Max Muncy is? Well you should, because the Dodgers’ surprise 27-year-old corner infielder has the third best slash line in baseball for anyone with at least 150 plate appearances. At FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan tries to figure out what the heck is going on and how long he can keep it up, by taking a look at Muncy’s offensive peers.
  • It’s like Game of Thrones: Ted Lerner – owner of the Washington Nationals, first of his name – will cede control of the team to his son, Mark, following a vote by MLB owners later today. “On a personal basis, obviously it’s very exciting for me,” Mark Lerner told the Washington Post. “It’s something I have dreamed of since I was a little guy.” LOL. Good luck, tiger.
  • Did you happen to watch the Terry Collins/Umpire viral video before it was taken down?

  • Because it sure was entertaining to watch! But apparently, that wasn’t enough. And while I FULLY understand and appreciate Brett’s take on this (let fans see *more* of this stuff, not less, because, you know, we freakin’ love it), I can understand why they don’t when it comes to umpires. In that video, I recall hearing the umpire express his disappointment with certain rules the league has handed down, assuming the entire world wasn’t going to hear it. And since he’s not a police officer with some higher moral duty obligation, I think it’s okay if he’s able to say that sort of stuff – especially to calm down an adult man’s temper tantrum – without the whole world hearing his grievances out of context and in the heat of the moment. [Brett: And I also get that if the umpires bargained for these things to be private, then so be it. But can’t they get a committee together on both sides to maybe agree on a process for letting SOME stuff like this out? Heck, the umpire in the video came off looking great!]
  • At MLB Trade Rumors, Jeff Todd drops a “notable trades in the month of June” piece, which is always fun to read because it reminds you that big things *can* happen on the trade market before July, even if they aren’t that common. Already this year, we’ve seen some notable players change teams (Alex Colome, Denard Span, Brad Miller, Jon Jay, etc.).
  • At MLB.com, Mike Petriello takes a look at some of the most improved pitchers this season, a list which includes Justin Verlander, Tyler Glasnow, Gerrit Cole, Tyson Ross, and others. I have to say, though, I think Jon Lester could’ve at least been in the conversation, given the way 2017 played out, but he didn’t even make the “just missed” section. Oh, well.
  • Is this a joke?!

  • Maybe pitchers today really do need to toughen up …
  • And finally, if you missed this touching moment in Milwaukee, check it out:


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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.