It’s pretty difficult to focus on anything other than the Cubs game tonight – not knowing whether this is the last baseball game for months has me shook – but we must try to distract ourselves. We still have some time to go, after all.
So, let’s look at some of the latest around the league …
- I am absolutely blown away: This season, A’s slugger Khris Davis finished the regular season with a .247 batting average. Last season, he also finished with a .247 batting average. And the season before that. AND THE SEASON BEFORE THAT. He’s hit exactly .247 for four consecutive seasons, which is all kinds of improbable, I can’t even begin to comprehend. I am so rooting for #5 next year.
- Mike Scioscia has been the manager of the Angels for an extremely long time (2000-2018), but on Sunday he managed his final game, stepping down as manager with a final record of 1,650-1,428. Scioscia, 59, won a World Series with the Angels back in 2002, and was manager of the year twice (that season and again in 2009).
- Here he is discussing his decision:
- But he isn’t the only manager not returning next year. Paul Molitor, 62 years old and manager of the Twins, will be replaced just one year after he led the team to the postseason and earned a three-year extension that was supposed to take him through the 2020 season. According to ESPN, the Twins expect him to remain with the team in some other capacity. We’ll see. Depending on how mutual this was, he may not want to hang around just to collect his contract in an office somewhere.
- You might recall the firing and banning of Braves GM John Coppolella after he (and his organization) were found to be violating international signing rules. A number of consequences shook out for the Braves, too, including the loss of prospects and future signing ability. Well, as it turns out that story might not be over. It’s long been known that the international market – particularly in Latin America – is a deeply flawed system, that, in many ways, encourages dangerous travel, illegal activity, and shady business dealings (all centering around young players, some of whom are as young as 13, 14, 15). But some MLB teams have never hesitated to exploit those problems for their own gain. And now, Jeff Passan reports that a federal grand jury is looking into MLB teams’ dealings with international players. And reportedly, one former Braves official is cooperating in that process – Craig Calcaterra guesses that it might be Coppolella, which would make sense, but that is still unclear.
- And it gets even crazier. Sports Illustrated has obtained a “thick dossier of documentation that was provided to the FBI at the beginning of the probe” and the results – which can be seen there – are wild. The Dodgers, for extreme example, assigned a 1-5 rating for their own employees in Latin America on their “level of egregious behavior”, from innocent bystander to full-on criminal. It is WILD. Apparently, this entire investigation started with a whistleblower contacting the FBI, and it has ramped all the way up to subpoenaing witnesses. The Cubs are not explicitly mentioned at this stage, and I hope it stays that way. Really crazy stuff.
- Last winter – for some reason – the San Diego Padres signed Eric Hosmer to an eight-year/$144M deal, the richest in Padres history, just before Spring Training. And so far … it hasn’t worked out. Hosmer, still just 28, slashed .253/.322/.398 this season (95 wRC+), had a terrible year defensively, and, thus, was worth -0.1 WAR. Needless to say, he’s anxious to do better next year: “I know I’m going to go back and be the player I know I can be,” Hosmer said before the final game of the year. “This isn’t the impression I wanted to make the first year, but there’s nothing I can say to make it any better. Just, I’ll be ready to go next year.”
- Speaking of huge deals that don’t work out:
Chris Davis finishes with a -3.2 WAR and a .168 batting average.
That's the lowest BA among qualifying players in Major League baseball history.
— Brittany Ghiroli (@Britt_Ghiroli) September 28, 2018
- Holy. That record may stand all-time. It’s hard to get enough at-bats to qualify when you’re hitting .168.
- Seattle Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto said that if Ichiro is healthy in Spring Training 2019, he will be given a chance to win a spot on the special 28-man Opening Day roster for the team’s games in Japan against the A’s. BE STILL MY BEATING HEART.
- You did very, very well, MLB:
— MLB (@MLB) October 2, 2018
- According to Anthony DiComo, Mets Owner/COO Jeff Wilpon said that the Mets have not spent heavily in free agency or their analytics department over the last ten or so years, because GM Sandy Alderson and his aides recommended it. Uh, yeah … okay, sure.
- Derek Jeter continues to ruin the Marlins, baseball, and life in general: He wants to move the Marlins massive and gaudy (but amazing) home run sculpture outside. He never liked it and wanted to dismantle it from day one, and he’s inching closer to that goal. What a monster.
- Tanking is forever going to be a problem until MLB addresses it:
attendance was up about two percent among the top 20 teams and down about 16 percent among the bottom 10.
some of this “drop” is due to a change in how MIA/TOR track attendance. Most of it is because fans don’t want to pay full admission to watch tanking teams. https://t.co/UfIhr43RJv
— Mike Gianella (@MikeGianella) October 2, 2018
- There are a lot of ways to accomplish this, but my personal favorite is expanding the league by two teams, shifting to four, four-team divisions in each league, while expanding the number of teams that reach the postseason. That makes it easier to win a division, and gives each team a better shot of staying in it for longer. We’re still quite a ways off from that happening, but I do believe that’s the direction we’re heading.