Tonight, around 6:00 pm CT, I’ll be on CLTV’s Sports Feed to talk about the Cubs 2018 season and what lies ahead for the team. I’m guessing I’ll say Machado and/or Harper 15-20 times, too, so you’ll definitely want to tune in.
Here’s some news from around the league …
- Don’t sleep on this FBI investigation into International Free Agency and the MLB teams who’ve misbehaved therein, because from the sound of it, individual executives from across baseball might be involved and the Los Angeles Dodgers *might* be in actual legal trouble (FanGraphs): “The dossier given to the FBI suggests the extent to which some MLB personnel are aware of—and brazenly discuss—this unscrupulous culture and the potential for corruption. While both the league office and other teams are mentioned in the files obtained by SI, the Los Angeles Dodgers, a franchise with extensive scouting and development operations in the Caribbean, figure most prominently in the dossier[.]”
- Apparently, the documents given to the grand jury provide a window in the way Caribbean smugglers traffic Cuban nationals to America, using third-country way stations, and how the underground pipeline “ferries Cuban players to stash houses in countries like Haiti and Mexico before they can seek lucrative contracts with MLB clubs.” And if teams were not only aware of this, but actively participating and encouraging this sort of behavior, you can be sure they’ll be (justly) punished.
- On to other Dodgers topics – at MLB.com, Ken Gurnick suggests that the Dodgers have just as strong of a bullpen as the Brewers, but like, no they don’t. I still think the Dodgers might have the overall advantage in the series, but if there’s one area Milwaukee has the upper-hand, it’s the bullpen. Kenley Jansen or no Kenley Jansen.
- Speaking of which, the Brewers see themselves as the underdogs, as well, and I think it’s a fine look for them. That’ especially true considering, as Travis Shaw points, the three other teams left in the postseason are the Red Sox, Dodgers, and last year’s World Series champion Houston Astros:
Vegas money is on the Dodgers. Fine, said Travis Shaw. “I think we’re taking the underdog mentality. Look at the four teams that are left.” pic.twitter.com/NQtVqEJbbl
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) October 11, 2018
- Then again, can you ever really be “the underdog” when you have someone playing as well as Christian Yelich has:
Christian Yelich hit .367/.449/.770 in the second half, which is crazy enough on its own. But it featured a 48.1% HR/FB ratio, which is like DOUBLE what a super high ratio would be. NEARLY HALF of his fly balls in the second half left the park. I don't even have context for that.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) October 10, 2018
- Or lucky? There’s no denying that a 48.1% home run to fly ball ratio is pure insanity – a completely unsustainable figure, no matter how hard you’re hitting the ball – but … Yelich was hitting the ball really darn hard. Some context I can add to Brett’s tweet is that Yelich had a almost equally outrageous 50.5% hard-hit rate in the second half of the season *and only* a 25.6% fly ball rate. So he was hitting the ball VERY hard and not in the air all that often, which helps explain why that 48.1% HR/FB ratio didn’t appear even more unrealistic to our eyes when it happened. If he were hitting tons of fly balls AND hitting tons of those fly balls out of the park, this probably would have gotten more attention and would have struck everyone as really odd.
- Regardless, the point is: the dude was absolutely crushing the ball in the second half in a way that almost no other players can. Will it last into next year? At this rate? No, almost certainly not. But it was impressive for three months, nevertheless.
- Yesterday, we were surprised to see a notable mid-October big-league trade of Kyle Barraclough from the Marlins to the Nationals, and it turns out the motivation for the move does indeed appear tied to Miami’s pursuit of Victor Victor Mesa:
With the Barraclough trade, the Marlins now have almost as much international $$ to spend as the Orioles in their pursuit of Victor Victor Mesa, according to sources. https://t.co/TgJSEoWvKa
— clarkspencer (@clarkspencer) October 10, 2018
- The Cubs remain a not-really-worth-discussing long shot due to a lack of remaining pool space – and clearly, if you want to acquire some pool space, it’ll cost you.
- At MLB Trade Rumors, Steve Adams has the rundown on the Mets General Manager search and it’s a really interesting read, with everything you need to know in one place. Among the highlights? Kim Ng is expected to receive an interview, which, if she were to get the job would make her the first female GM in the sport. Ng has been floated as a GM candidate for years now after years of success as an MLB executive. Also of note, there’s speculation that the Mets could go “extremely out of the box” and interview high-profile player agents like Brodie Van Wagenen (head of CAA Baseball) and Casey Close (head of Excel Sports Management). Jason McLeod’s name is mentioned, too, as is the Indians GM Mike Chernoff.
- But my favorite part of everything, is that for all their outside the box thinking, the Mets are still the Mets: “There have been multiple reports that owner Fred Wilpon is eyeing a more traditional general manager with scouting-based acumen (an “old school” type of executive, to use a broad description), while his son, COO Jeff Wilpon, is more focused on hiring an analytically-inclined executive that more closely aligns with recent industry trends.” They’re gonna split the baby.
- Former MLB star Lenny Dykstra has been formally indicted for drugs and an altercation he had with an Uber driver back in May, when he reportedly held a gun to the driver’s head. Quite a fall for Nails.
- At MLB.com, Will Leitch examines each team’s best postseason moment, and, for the Cubs … Ben Zobrist’s extra-innings, Game 7 double down the third baseline was not a tough call. I do wonder, though, if that’s eliminated, what would be next? Leitch suggests Kyle Schwarber’s scoreboard shot, but I think Miguel Montero’s NLCS grand slam or Javy Baez stealing home against the Dodgers might have been more memorable. [Brett: Behind the Zobrist double, I’d definitely go with Montero’s grand slam, but if not that, how about Baez’s solo homer to win Game One of the NLDS that year, or maybe the 9th inning comeback to win that series against the Giants in Game Four?]
- MLB is trying to convince the casino industry to give them a cut of their gambling profits now that the federal ban on sports betting has been repealed. Good luck with that, I guess. I’m sure they’ll hand those millions (or billions) right over without a fight ….
- It’s almost Hall of Fame voting time – so be prepared to delete Twitter from your phone – because there are some new names on the list, as well as some old ones that always invite controversy (note: this is not the actual ballot, but what it may look like when it’s revealed):
No baseball until Friday so here's a look at what the Hall of Fame ballot may look like next month according to the eligible players listed at @baseball_ref. (It's very likely that the Hall's screening committee will leave a few of the first-time eligibles off the ballot.) pic.twitter.com/mKSgwp0gz0
— Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs) October 10, 2018
- Obviously, the best ballot would be Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly, Juan Pierre, Sammy Sosa, and six blanks.
- And finally, this is just … LOL:
These are the types of stories that make my career all worth it https://t.co/KU7oXW4Xo5
— Phil Hughes (@PJHughes45) October 11, 2018