I leave for my ten-day Greece honeymoon tomorrow (woot-woot!), and I am very excited for the trip. I am decidedly less excited for the 11 or so hours and two flights it’ll take to get there, but I’ve got plenty of stuff to binge and catch up on anyway, so it’ll be fine.
Here’s to hoping someone wants to give a couple of honeymooners some free first class upgrades or something. There’s always a chance … right?
Here’s some news from around the league …
- You perhaps thought Brandon Morrow’s back injury was bad – sustained while taking off his pants – but Giants closer Hunter Strickland can do much better (or worse?). He will be sidelined at least six to eight weeks with a fractured right pinkie finger sustained while … punching a door out of frustration following his fourth blown save of the season (don’t do that, ya dingbat). His manager, Bruce Bochy was rightfully “crushed” and “disappointed” when he heard the news: “You have to be able to control your emotions,” Bochy said. “I talk about this so much, how important it is for players, in particular the closer, to have emotional control.”
- Despite the obviously stupid decision and even worse outcome, I’ll give it to Strickland for his ownership of the mistake and apology to the fans:
Life has an interesting and sometimes disappointing way of opening up our eyes. Words cannot describe the amount of regret and sorrow I have for my actions. I have let down the ones that care and mean the most, as well as the ones that count on me day in and day out. To my family, my teammates, my coaches, this organization, and our fan base, I am truly sorry that one split second, stupid decision has caused so much harm and now set me back from being out there with my team to pursue our goal. As well as providing for my family. I own all responsibilities and consequences because these were no ones actions but myself. I will work hard to get back with the guys and help contribute to some more wins. This is our life, and we take pride in what we do, so when we fail it hurts. But that is by no means an excuse because every action has a reaction- which is what I’m seeing now. I’ve made a mistake and regret it, but I will not give up and will learn from this! I completely understand how this portrays my character, which I will humbly work on areas in my life that need refinement. I sincerely didn’t do this out of selfishness, but simply because I let down the ones that count on me most and my emotions got the best of me in that moment. So again, I’m sorry, and now I have to move forward.
- With all of that said, this is leaving out a big part of the story which is the plunking ridiculousness that surrounded the incident. Stickland buzzed Marlins rookie Lewis Brinson because (maybe) Brinson got some hits off of him last week, which led to Brinson celebrating robustly when he got a hit off of Strickland again on Monday. They jawed (and afterwards was when Strickland broke his hand). The next day, the Giants immediately plunked Brinson, so, in retaliation, Buster Posey was then hit. I don’t really have any more energy to keep writing about retaliation. It’s dumb, dangerous, and completely selfish for the players. The game is 100% about the fans and the fans want their team to win. Throwing at the other team goes directly against their winning mandate, so if you’re a fan you should hate when your team does it, especially when it all starts because a closer was pissed he gave up some hits.
- Last night, Cardinals pitcher Luke Weaver hit Phillies youngster J.P. Crawford breaking a bone on the top of his hand. Crawford, 23, won’t need surgery, but he won’t be back until after the All-Star break at the earliest. “Plain and simple, it sucks,” Crawford said. “I mean, I want to be out there playing with my teammates and helping them win. But you know, can’t do anything about it. Just part of the game. Just going to try to better as quick as I can and help my team out.”
- In other injury news, the Mets have announced that reliever AJ Ramos will undergo season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. “It’s going to be a long rehab for him,” said Mets manager Mickey Callaway, who estimated the process taking up to a year. “It’s not a fun rehab, so that’s tough.” Ramos, 31, is a free agent at the end of the season, but will have a tough time proving his value after a bad start to the year and now this season-ending injury. He was an All-Star as recently as 2016 though, so maybe someone will gamble on the upside.
- In other, other injury news, Cardinals starter Michael Wacha left his start early today, with an apparently left oblique strain. You can add him to Adam Wainright, Alex Reyes, and Carlos Martinez, as each of those four starters have missed varying amounts of time this year. The Cubs are without Yu Darvish and their top two relievers, but … it could be worse, I suppose.
- The Cubs and Dodgers will meet in Los Angeles for a four-game series next week, and they could have Clayton Kershaw back by then. Indeed, he wanted to return even sooner than that. According to MLB.com, “Clayton Kershaw lost the debate and will make a rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Saturday before returning to the Dodgers’ rotation.” He wanted to start against the Mets this Saturday, but Dave Roberts and the Dodgers are artifically slowing him down, which is probably the right call. Hopefully, though, he’s a little rusty and the Cubs can take advantage.
- If you recall, talented but oft-injured (is that fair?) outfielder and free-agent-to-be A.J. Pollock was injured (fractured thumb) diving for a ball on May 14, but is still not quite ready to come back. “We were hopeful at that time that something miraculous could happen and he would heal faster than the normal human being,” Manager Torey Lovullo said. “But that was obviously a stretch. I know we’re into our fifth week right now, so I know it’s as predicted, as we thought it would fall into place as far as that bone healing. It still hasn’t healed completely, but it’s showing signs of getting there.” The Dodgers, meanwhile, have been gaining on the Diamondbacks and were just 1.5 games behind them as of the start of play today.
- When the Nationals traded for Royals closer Kelvin Herrera in June, we figured it was probably more of a uniquely perfect fit than an indicator of an early trade market … but maybe that’s not true. As it turns out, the Angels and Dodgers both pursued Herrera before he was traded to Washington, which, in my opinion, means, hey, sure, maybe it will be an early market. The Cubs front office has been aggressive early in the market (both as buyers and sellers), so we may already be on high alert.
- At FanGraphs, David Laurila has an interesting new “Manager’s Perspective” series brewing, with commentary from some of the game’s managers on hot topics. For example, you can read Buck Showalter on the ever-changing game, Ron Gardenhire on players from his past, Brian Snitker on MLB versus MiLB, and more.
- Rangers utility man Isiah Kiner-Falefa has been forced back into a catcher’s role after not playing there for a while, which places him onto a pretty weird list of guys who have a tiny ratio between catcher-innings and MLB games played. Also on that list, of course, you’ll find Chicago Cub Kyle Schwarber, with 0.55 catcher innings per game played.
- Bryce Harper may have started this season out strong, but he’s hitting just .213/.352/.470 (116 wRC+) on the year, which puts into question whether he’ll really earn that $300M+ deal rumored for a while now at the end of this season:
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) June 19, 2018
- Also, great … he’ll be even cheaper for the Cubs then, because I still 100% want them to sign him. Hopefully, every other team agrees with Casey Stern, because Harper on something less than $300M is MUCH more than okay by me. Nearly every number on Harper looks good this year except the one that’s dragging down the slash line: his BABIP is a silly low .209. That, despite the best hard and soft contact rates of his career.
- Actually, ignore that last part, other GMs. Harper comes with a lot of flaws and is not the player Mike Trout is. Though, to be fair, no one is:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) June 20, 2018
- Trout is doing things that no one has seen since Babe Ruth … but he’s not a free agent until 2021. And whatever deal Harper (or Manny Machado, for that matter) signs this winter, Trout will beat it.
- Oh, and to bring things back full circle, remember when Hunter Strickland sent Bryce Harper over the edge last year, plunking him because he didn’t like that Harper had gone deep twice on him in the playoffs three years earlier:
- The huge collision between Jeff Samardzija and Michael Morse in the middle of that fight actually ended Morse’s career.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.