When I was putting together the Lukewarm Stove earlier today, words cannot express how good it felt to know that, even without a single other move, the Cubs’ roster is fully “set” for the 2018 season. I wasn’t worried about the potential downstream impact of the Diamondbacks landing J.D. Martinez instead of the Red Sox, or whether the Twins push for Chris Archer was going to affect the free agent market for starters, or anything else for that matter. The Cubs got their guy, set their rotation, and look like a strong team in 2018.
In fact, with Darvish in the fold, the Cubs odds of reaching the postseason shot all the way up to 90%, and they now appear to be the team to beat in the National League this season. Weight –> lifted. I can just enjoy the other transaction activity with interest from afar.
Now let’s get to the season already, right?
Here’s some news from around the league …
- At The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal released his vision for helping to improve competitive balance in baseball, redefine the incentives for winning, and, perhaps most importantly, calm the rhetoric between the league and the players union. Sounds great right? Well, yeah, it is, it just also happens to be extremely ambitious: “Re-open the collective bargaining agreement. Restructure the amateur draft. And maybe adjust the international signing bonus pools, too.” With that said, re-opening the CBA is not unheard of. As Rosenthal points out, the players did it in years past to help enforce stricter regulations/penalties for performance enhancing drugs.
- In this particular case, Rosenthal believes that restructuring the draft from its current reverse-order-of-the-standings form could help, because unlike a payroll floor or higher luxury tax threshold, this wouldn’t require a financial concession from owners. He offers a few potential alternatives, including an NBA-style draft lottery, a weighted 30-team lottery, the J.J. Cooper “tank tax” plan, and much more. And perhaps, in exchange for this concession, the players might agree to a compromise on pace-of-play so that the changes can go into effect this season (or whenever) with the full force of the league (teams, owners, and players) behind it. If Commissioner Rob Manfred is able to orchestrate a compromise this robust at this point in time, I’d be deeply impressed. But, hey, there’s nothing wrong with shooting for the stars.
- Not sure what to make of this …
This is a new one: Esteban Loaiza, drug kingpin.
The second-winningest pitcher from Mexico in MLB history was arrested Friday with 20 kilos of heroin or cocaine, according to San Diego police records. He'll be in court Wednesday to face felony drug charges. Details are in pics. pic.twitter.com/312pf21Q4F
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 12, 2018
- Estaban Loaiza played with the Pirates, Rangers, Blue Jays, White Sox, Nationals, Athletics, and Dodgers over his 14-year career, which included two All-Star appearances and a finish as the 2003 AL Cy Young runner-up with the White Sox. And now he’ll likely be heading to jail after being caught with nearly 50 lbs of heroine or cocaine.
- Hey, remember Shohei Ohtani? The first MLB Spring Training for one of the most exciting baseball players on the planet should have been the news of the offseason. Obviously, with the number of high-profile trades (Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria, Gerrit Cole), the fight between the Players Association and MLB, and the ongoing free agent slowness, there were many other threads to follow. But the Angels might prefer it that way. According to Bill Shaikin (Los Angeles Times), the Angels won’t be pushing Ohtani to be the face of the team. Instead, they’re trying their best to shield him from the sort of media circus that can distract a player/team and even embarrass him in the eyes of his teammates. Although, perhaps that’s going to start after the 175-reporter initial media session scheduled for this Wednesday ….
- But in all seriousness, if you’re wondering how or if they’ll be able to pull it off, ask yourself how much attention Mike Trout gets compared to how much he should get, given that he’s arguably on pace to be one of the few best players in baseball history. My guess is that MLB hopes that Ohtani and Trout – two of the most exciting players in the game today – eventually rise to the top of the media’s attention and become the combined faces of baseball. They have that sort of potential, no doubt.
- The Mets pitching staff, man, yeesh …
Zack Wheeler told the New York Post he has spent the last six months injecting a bone growth drug into his stomach, daily, in an attempt to prevent injury.
But yes the Mets definitely have enough starting pitching depth.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) February 12, 2018
- The real takeaway here is that the Mets are reasonably expected to dip their toes into the middle/lower tier of free agent starting pitchers (as high as Alex Cobb/Lance Lynn, I’d think), but all I can think about is how happy I am the Cubs built their team around position players. Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, Jacob deGrom … they’ve ALL had significant problems over the last several years, when they were supposed to be rivaling the Cubs for whose approach was better. Two subsets doesn’t prove anything, but it sure hasn’t gone well for the Mets, despite all the talent.
- The Blue Jays will be paying tribute to the late Roy Halladay by retiring his jersey on Opening Day:
Join us Opening Day, as we pay tribute to the late Roy Halladay and retire his uniform number.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) February 12, 2018
- IS NOTHING SACRED TO DEREK JETER?!
SLATER SCOOP: Another Marlins offseason casualty. The sea creature race is no more, source says. pic.twitter.com/68MQuacjnY
— Andy Slater (@AndySlater) February 12, 2018
- Speaking of Derek Jeter, when’s the last time you *actually* watched his now-famous “jump-throw” from 1998? I thought about that this morning, dug up the play and have it for you at Baseball is Fun:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) February 12, 2018