MLBits: Declining Tommy John, Cardinals Closer, Center Field Rankings, Legalized Gambling, More

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MLBits: Declining Tommy John, Cardinals Closer, Center Field Rankings, Legalized Gambling, More

MLB News and Rumors

Just when you thought the dam was going to break with a trade of Gerrit Cole to the Houston Astros, the universe busted out a giant “PYSCH!”

Let’s check in on some happenings from around the league (also, follow @flippingbats on Twitter already. What are you waiting for?).

  • An encouraging post at FanGraphs asks if we may have passed the peak Tommy John surgery era, after they reached a record high in 2014: “After professionals endured a total of 145 Tommy John surgeries in 2015, including 81 sustained while pitching, the total numbers have declined in each of the last two years,” writes Travis Sawchik at FanGraphs. “In fact … only 86 underwent the procedure last year, the lowest mark since 2011 and the first time the total has fallen below triple digits since 2011.” Check out that post for some additional context/graphs/explanations. The Cubs have been very fortunate with their pitchers over the years – maybe they were just a bit ahead of the health curve.
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
  • Speaking of FanGraphs, there’s a big change coming: Dave Cameron (with the site since 2008 and their first full-time employee) is “hanging up his virtual pen,” and for good reason: “Starting next week, I’m going to go begin a new adventure, helping build out a Research and Development department for the San Diego Padres.” Wow. That’s a big, impressive step for Cameron, and given how much of his stuff we’ve read and shared over the years, I suspect he’ll do a fine job. You can read more about his plans at FanGraphs.
  • Earlier today, we discussed the Cubs’ connection to free agent closer Greg Holland and how it caught us a bit by surprise. After all, if the Cubs were going to dip their toes into an expensive closer, we thought arm would be attached to Wade Davis (or perhaps Addison Reed, whom we like). In any case, the Cubs seem perfectly content handing the closer job to Brandon Morrow if nothing else changes. Of course, maybe the Cubs’ connection to Holland was less about actually signing him, and more about driving up the price on the closer-needy, NL Central rival Cardinals. At the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Derrick Goold writes about Addison Reed as the closer target on which the Cardinals should focus their attention (and he’s probably right). Reed is younger and more durable that Holland and could provide a bit more value over the next three or four years (even if he’s not necessarily better this season). Note: back at the Winter Meetings, the Cubs and Cardinals were both connected to Reed.
  • Given Brandon Morrow’s injury history and his lack of durability, I always thought pairing him with Reed (who’s exceedingly durable) made a ton of sense. By doing so, the Cubs could mitigate some risk of injury and optimize his effectiveness, by leaning on Reed a bit more than Morrow. But if the Cardinals are serious bidders, the price tag may not come down to reasonable levels. Whether that leaves the Cubs with a palatable deal for another reliever when all is said and done remains to be seen, but consider the Cardinals’ interest a significant roadblock to the Cubs getting a steal. (Hmm … this feels like a Lukewarm Stove again. Sorry, sorry, trying to delete.)
  • Well this is quite terrible:

  • According to Robert Murray (Fanrag Sports Net), Wood is being investigated by the player’s union for allegedly filming clients while they were using his shower: “Recently, a player who chose not be identified, was using a shower at Wood’s home and found a camera, sources say. The player confronted Wood, then followed by firing him immediately, sources say.” Horrible and scary.
  • At ESPN, Buster Olney continued his positional rankings and has come to center fielders, where, shockingly, Mike Trout is not listed at No. 1 (I’m kidding he’s really numbers 1-101 and the list starts at 102, because he’s the best). Following Trout is Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon, Astros outfielder George Springer, and … potential Cubs target Lorenzo Cain? Here’s what Olney had to say: “He had a solid season before he went into the market, rating 4.1 fWAR, hitting .300 and accumulating a .363 OBP. He’ll turn 32 in April, but scouts continue to view him as a good outfielder (he rated plus-5 in defensive runs saved last season) with the ability to play any of the three spots, and he’s still among the better baserunners.” I still don’t think Cain winds up on the North Side of Chicago, but, hey, crazier things have (not) happened this entire offseason.
  • At MLB.com, Richard Justice writes about the seven reasons to get pumped for Spring Training and it’s a fun list. The best part? No. 1 is Shohei Ohtani … and I’m laughing at myself for basically forgetting that he exists after obsessively covering his every action earlier this offseason – it just feels like it was *so long ago* and our attention has been so diverted elsewhere that we haven’t swung back around to guys like Ohtani (well, there’s really no one like him, but you get my point).
  • And finally, Indiana is looked to pass a bill that would legalize sports gambling, but the NBA and MLB are requesting a 1 percent “integrity fee” on every dollar gambled, which represents up to 20 percent of the potential profits, and, thus, weakens the profitability of legalization. Geoff Freeman, CEO and President of the American Gaming Association, said that that sort of fee would “ensure the illegal market continues to thrive in the state, and gut the tax revenues available to fund essential public services.” Later, “We encourage Indiana to reject this short-sighted, misinformed idea, which simply replaces a failed federal prohibition with bad state policy. Our goal is to eliminate the illegal market, protect consumers and strengthen the integrity of the game.”

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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.