Although it may not feel like it – thanks wonky free agent market and sub-zero Chicago temperatures – we’re actually approaching the one-month countdown to pitchers and catchers reporting (February 13th for many teams this year).
And because a ton of players usually show up even earlier than that, it’s almost like we’re already a month away from real-life baseball things, like, actually happening. So that’s cool.
Sigh. Is this helping? Is it still January? Have any free agents signed yet? Are your boogers still frozen? Please come back, summer baseball. We need you.
- Brewers right-hander Jimmy Nelson appears to be optimistic about his shoulder rehab, claiming that it’s going as well as it could possible go. Some reports suggested that Nelson, who injured his shoulder in a slide against the Cubs in September, could miss most of the first half of the season – which is probably, in part, why the Brewers added Jhoulys Chacin and re-signed Yovani Gallardo this winter – but Nelson sounds more optimistic than that. Milwaukee’s rotation was a big part of their breakout in 2017 and Nelson was arguably the best of the bunch. Given the non-intimidating look of their projections, and the expected competitiveness of the Cardinals and Cubs, the Brewers will need him back sooner than later if they’re hoping to contend.
- At the Miami Herald, Barry Jackson begins the first of a five part series exploring Derek Jeter’s business and baseball plan for the Marlins, a.k.a. “Project Wolverine,” and it’s a hoot. Apparently, Jeter’s formerly secret plan (sent to prospective investors a while back) projected profits of $68M this season. Of course, the $50M every single team in baseball is getting from the sale of BAMTech to Disney and the $36M of payroll slashing plays a big part in that, as does the internally projected $44.8M up-front payment as part of a renegotiated TV Deal … which might not even happen anymore.
- Jackson goes into far greater detail regarding Project Wolverine right here, but I can’t even bring myself to relay all of their projected yearly increases across the board (for example, do they really think attendance will improve next season after shipping out the 2017 NL MVP and home run leader?). There seems to be a very good chance that their actual results are NOWHERE near expectations – and that’s assuming they can cut some more payroll before Opening Day (About those Christian Yelich rumors …). Seriously, read this article, because the level of absurdity is nearly unparalleled.
- Craig Calcaterra has some interesting thoughts on how revenues and profits for owners are up, while salaries and job security for players are down. And moreover, the luxury tax threshold – which has clearly been an important factor this offseason and a general fumble for the Players Union – is nowhere near the level it could be:
That may not seem like a lot, but if it was at the same level of revenues now as it was then, the tax threshold would be like $270 million. Which no team is close to.
— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) January 3, 2018
- In other words, if the luxury tax threshold remained the same percent of revenues it was when it started up 15 or so years ago, the actual dollar amount ($270M) would be nearly $75M higher than it is now ($197M). That’s nuts and would, without a doubt, significantly change the landscape of this offseason.
- Now that the Buffalo Bills have clinched a spot in NFL’s postseason, do you know who holds the longest playoff drought across the four major U.S. Sports, NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL? I’ll give you a hint: the current record holder is an AL team, who also holds another very impressive MLB record. The answer will be at the end of the post (or you can click on this link and read about it at NBC Sports).
- At FanGraphs, Carson Cistulli takes a closer look at the value produced and expected from players claimed off waivers. You might be surprised (or not, actually) to learn that just one guy – Scooter Gennett – out of 107 waiver claims in the past three seasons produced more than 2.0 WAR. It’s an interesting dive.
- At MLB.com, Anthony Castrovince discussing the evolving, and increasingly volatile role of MLB managers, and I found this tidbit to be particularly crazy: “Go back 20 years to Opening Day of the 1998 MLB season, and the average tenure of an MLB manager with his team at that time was 7.2 seasons, with a median tenure of six seasons. On Opening Day 2018, the average tenure (including new hires as zero years) will be 3.7 seasons (it will be 4.6 for the 24 returning from 2017), with a median of three seasons.” Relationships with the players and a mastery of data/information appear to be among the most important factors for a manager, and they are, together, creating a lot of turnover.
- At Cut4, Adrian Garro discusses the 12 personal career milestones players could reach next season, and it’s a fun list. Among the more interesting tidbits: Stanton could reach 300 homers, Pujols can reach 3,000 hits, Mike Trout can reach 200 stolen bases, and Joey Votto could walk 1000 times – he’s just four walks away from that, though, so you can probably expect him to get there on Opening Day.
- And finally, did Greg Maddux make you laugh yesterday?
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) January 2, 2018
The Seattle Mariners have the longest playoff drought across the four major U.S. sports, having not reached the postseason since 2001 … when they won a record-tying 116 games during the regular season. If only the fans had known what was coming.