Happy Friday, my friends. Big weekend plans on tap? That’s swell. Here’s some news from around the league …
- After reaching 30 starts for the first time since 2014 (with a better than average ERA) Jason Vargas landed a two-year, $16 million deal (plus a club option in 2020) with the Mets. Even if the total dollar value doesn’t seem small, that’s a healthy commitment for a 35-year-old who’s been worth just 2.3 WAR over the past three seasons combined. Good for him.
- David Freese has some interesting things to say on the state of the Pirates and the mood in the clubhouse, including his sense that “the demand to win just hasn’t been in the air” and he doesn’t see it in peoples’ eyes (yikes):
David Freese just spent 20 minutes spitting truth. On the team’s attitude, the atmosphere in the clubhouse, and the organization. Big fat truth bombs. pic.twitter.com/ZjcN9cRmGA
— Chris Mack (@THEChrisMack) February 16, 2018
- Tim Lincecum is trying, yet again, to make a comeback, and the 33-year-old right-hander might just be in luck this time around. “I think he’ll definitely get a job, there’s no doubt about that,” a source told Mark Feinsand at MLB.com. “At this time of the year, it’s probably a Minor League contract with an invitation [to Spring Training], but he’ll get signed.” Good for Lincecum, and I hope to see him on a big league mound again before it’s all said and done. According to a source at Lincecum’s showcase, the righty was sitting between 90-92 MPH on his fastball and touched as high as 93 MPH – which is a big leap from the 88.4 MPH he averaged back in 2016. Go get it, dude. [Brett: It’s unbelievable that his two huge seasons (both 7+ WAR) were now almost 10 years ago – 2008 and 2009.]
- Speaking of pitchers I *really* want to see pitch, Bartolo Colon is currently with the Rangers on a Minor League deal, and doesn’t mind that the odds seem stacked against him. “It doesn’t bother me at all,” Colon said via Jeff Wilson at The Star-Telegram. “I know I have to work hard and do as good as I can.” You can read more from Colon and GM Jon Daniels’ on the 45-year-old’s chances of breaking through with the Major League squad this year. And, hey, if they really go with a six-man rotation, maybe it’ll be a bit easier for him to crack into it.
- Continuing along the same track, Michael Clair (Cut4) points out several other “fun” names to watch at big league camp this Spring, including Tim Tebow (Mets), four(!)-time Tommy John’er Jonny Venters (Rays), and the two-way Cardinal, Jordan Schafer.
- The Milwaukee Brewers are undoubtedly one of the Cubs’ biggest competitors in the NL Central this season, but their chances certainly depend a great deal on when Jimmy Nelson is able to return. Unfortunately (for the Cubs), he seems like he might be progressing better than expected: “The fact that we’re this far ahead already, this early in the process, is good.” Nelson hedged his comments by adding that there’s no point in betting on return dates, but that he’s excited to keep the momentum going and get back as soon as possible. Obviously, with a shoulder injury, he’s not necessarily going to be himself immediately upon returning (whenever that is (sometime in the first half?)), but if he’s close and continues to get better, he can be a really nice mid-season boost to the Brewers.
- Another starting pitcher on an NL Central competitor, Adam Wainwright, sounds fed up with a certain line of questioning: “If you have a question about whether I’m retiring after this year, or if I’m thinking about retiring, or if I’m thinking about moving on with my life, or if I’m thinking about signing an extension, I’d love for you to ask that right now,” Wainwright said. “Actually, before you ask that, let me just say this: It would be great for me if everyone would embrace the idea that I love being a St. Louis Cardinal.” Wainwright made just 23 starts last season with a 5.11 ERA. He’s 36-and-a-half years old, was slowed by back and elbow injuries last season (he had elbow surgery over the winter), and ended the year out of the pen with a fastball around 85 MPH according to Joe Trezza (MLB.com).
- At FanGraphs, Craig Edwards writes about Shohei Ohtani and the Angels’ six-man rotation … and why it probably won’t work. In short, the low-quality rotation riddled with health issues, plus the lack of significant depth, present issues that may be too difficult to overcome. For those, and many other reasons you should explore for yourself, Edwards says it’s “doomed to fail.”
- Also at FanGraphs, it seems as though I wasn’t the only one who had more than one bone to pick with the comments made by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred yesterday in Tampa. Sheryl Ring points out a number of potentially problematic statements made from a legal perspective, if the players wind up fighting the league about this offseason.
- Francisco Lindor, um … changed his hair:
- He says his sister told him to do the white and maybe that’s true, but I know the real reason he decided to cut it short:
- This is a funny thing to see:
Lowest career WAR among batters ever elected to an All-Star game: pic.twitter.com/Jy9VQdAjBq
— High Heat Stats (@HighHeatStats) February 16, 2018
- I spy a few notable names on there, including Miguel Montero, Josh Harrison, Adam Dunn, and Chris Davis. Though, to be sure, there’s a HUGE difference between an 17.6 WAR career like Davis’ (wherein you might expect an All-Star season or two), compared to a -3.3 WAR season. Myril! Who did you know?!
- And finally, remember that time Jorge Posada’s mitt came off so he had to catch a pop-up bare-handed?
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) February 16, 2018