The final weeks of Spring Training are like the final hour before a test or an interview.
Your roster (knowledge) is mostly set, there are no new players (facts) coming in … basically, there’s not much more you can do, but wait.
And wait. And wait some more.
- In case you don’t know, Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang is somewhat “stuck” in South Korea, after getting arrested for fleeing the scene of a DUI incident on December 2 (his third DUI). Although his sentence has been suspended, he’s still had difficulty obtaining a visa to enter the United States.
- Because he’s “beyond the point of the mandatory reporting date” for Spring Training, the Pirates were able to place Kang on the restricted list, which could free up a roster spot. It’s now very much in question whether he’ll be here (America) on time to make the Opening Day (April 3 in Boston) roster. More at the Trib Live. Obviously he’s a very important member of the Pirates, so this bears watching.
- Matt Szczur isn’t the only Chicago Cub on the 40-man roster without options (Mike Montgomery, Hector Rondon), but he is the only one who’s truly “on the bubble.” With that said, plenty of teams are facing similar issues throughout the league. At MLB Trade Rumors, Tim Dierkes runs down the list of players without options in 2017.
- The new catch probability statistics continue to develop, most recently with Jeff Sullivan examining two years of catch data at FanGraphs. First he separated various catches into five buckets from Five Star plays (most difficult) to One Star plays (nearly routine). When evaluating the last two seasons by catches alone, it’s clear that there wasn’t much of a difference (overall) between 2015 and 2016 – although 2016 had a slightly lower catch% across the board.
- But when he applied his statistics to the players, he was able to come up with more specific (and revealing) changes. For example, Jason Heyward (already a fantastic fielder) actually improved his catch probably by seven points from 2015 to 2016. That represents the 8th biggest improvement in baseball. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Mike Trout’s nine point loss stands out as one of the biggest declines in baseball. It’s a pretty interesting read of a relatively young set of statistics. Get ahead of the curve.
- At MLB.com, Thomas Harding writes that Rockies’ first baseman Ian Desmond will undergo surgery today to repair the second metacarpal in his left hand. There is no timetable for a return just yet. Mark Reynolds, who had a similar injury last year, wasn’t cleared to swing a bat for three months. If Desmond has to take on a lengthy rehab, he might only just make it back before the All-Star break.
- And that’s not all the bad news for the Rockies. According to John Schlegel (MLB.com), catcher Tom Murphy suffered a hairline fracture in his right arm when he was hit by Anthony Rizzo’s bat in Saturday’s game against the Cubs. He’ll reportedly miss four to six weeks.
- Zack Greinke is still dealing with some velocity issues this Spring, but did say his stuff felt “crisper” during a recent side session:
- The Indians’ Carlos Carrasco received an MRI on Tuesday, revealing some swelling (but no structural damage, thankfully) in his pitching elbow. Manager Terry Francona said (via Jordan Bastian, MLB.com) that they’ll probably skip his next start as a precaution. Carrasco missed some time last year as well, but is still a significant part of a very good Indians team. The AL Central is still their’s to take, but it’ll be a lot easier with a healthy Carrasco in the rotation.
- At Cardinals.com, Jennifer Langosch runs through the Cardinals 25-man roster, predicting which players will make the team and at which positions. Yadier Molina is about to make his 13th straight Opening Day start for the Cardinals.
- Tetsuto Yamada is a guy you should know, has homers you should watch, and he also has the best leg kick you’ve ever seen.
- At Baseball is Fun, I pointed and discussed out how totally awesome MLB’s recent crop of shortstops has been:
Shortstop is where it's at. pic.twitter.com/OgevnFI2qN
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) March 15, 2017