MLBits: Venezuelan Academies Closing, Molina Framing Slipping, White Sox Scuffling, More

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MLBits: Venezuelan Academies Closing, Molina Framing Slipping, White Sox Scuffling, More

Chicago Cubs

mlb logo featureSome of the latest interesting items from around the league …

  • The Mariners are the most recent MLB team to vacate their baseball academy in Venezuela, despite the many talented players and baseball advantages geographic proximity and exposure offers. Down from over twenty teams in the late 1990s, the Chicago Cubs are now just one of four teams (Tigers, Phillies, Rays) that remain. According to Brian Costa (Wall Street Journal), teams have been fleeing the country that has provided a huge volume of talent due to the instability and danger of the surrounding area. You might be inclined to believe that the Cubs are the benefactors of a competitive advantage, but I’m not so sure it’s worth it (or for how long they will stay). The article mentions, in particular, frightening stories of the Mariners facility being robbed at gunpoint and Cardinals scouts being caught up near a gang fight.
  • As you are likely aware, Yadier Molina has been among the very best pitch framers in baseball since 2008, because, of course. That has not been true so far in 2015, though. At Five Thirty Eight, Rob Arthur pointed out that Yadier Molina has dropped from being the third best pitch framer in 2014 to the 60th(!) in 2015. Because of this, the Cardinals’ pitching staff has fallen apart and they have lost 10 straight games – of course, none of that is true as the pitching staff has been top five in ERA, FIP and WAR and the Cardinals have the most wins in baseball. I joke, of course, because there is no other way to deal with the pain. We’ll see if Molina’s decline is real, holds over the course of the season, and impacts the Cardinals in time.
  • St. Louis Cardinals reliever Jordan Walden will miss upwards of two months with a shoulder issue. That’s a key piece of the Cardinals’ bullpen out for a long time.
  • The Royals are sending starter Jason Vargas to the DL with a flexor issue in his elbow.
  • After getting off to a rough start (10-15), Dave Cameron wonders how long Rick Hahn and the Chicago White Sox will wait until they begin selling off their tradable pieces and commit to the future instead of the present. The Sox made a noble effort to emulate the “catching lightening” strategy of the 2014 Royals, but their slow start has the team at just a 3% chance of capturing a Wild Card spot in 2015.
  • Pitch sequencing is an extremely important, and complex, part of baseball. That level of complexity, though, leaves us with very little data/studies to learn from. On Monday, Peter Bonney wrote Part Two of his series on pitch sequencing – specifically, about changing pitch location – at The Hardball Times. The results are mixed and the data is still inconclusive, but these studies take time to develop. For now, read Bonney’s take and keep yourself informed.
  • The San Diego Padres placed starting pitcher Brandon Morrow on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation this week, according to Corey Brock. Morrow heads to the DL with a 2.73 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and a 23/7 K/BB ratio over 33 innings this season. With the Cardinals off to an annoyingly good start to the 2015 season, the Cubs may ultimately need to keep their eyes on one of the two Wild Card spots – a target the Padres are likely focused on, as well.
  • Matt Snyder comes in for the win, with his comment on why he placed the St. Louis Cardinals atop his early season Power Rankings at CBS Sports.
  • With homer 661, Alex Rodriguez has passed Willie Mays. Thoughts on that?
  • Here’s something I probably wouldn’t have guessed: in 2014, Stephen Strasburg made 34 healthy starts on his way to 215 full innings pitched. That fact has not quelled the fear of losing (one of) the Nationals’ star pitcher once again, though, as he was pulled early in his game on Tuesday with a shoulder “issue” after just 64 pitches. On the year, Strasburg has a 4.73 ERA, but a mere 2.79 FIP.
  • During a Philly Sports Roast, Mitch Williams and Lenny Dykstra engaged in a heated exchange that digressed into flat out insults and personal attacks. It plays like the most uncomfortable and awkward episode of The Office ever.
  • After Cubs losses in six of their last eight games (three  to the Cardinals) here’s a reminder that baseball can still make you smile:

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami