MLBits: Players on Tanking, TEX Not-So-Six-Man Rotation, Imagining a Trout "Breakout," More

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MLBits: Players on Tanking, TEX Not-So-Six-Man Rotation, Imagining a Trout “Breakout,” More

Chicago Cubs

Starting this week, I’ve been trying to lower my daily coffee intake (I’m a nut when it comes to coffee, but I haven’t yet had a cup today), and I’m definitely starting to notice the difference here in the late morning.

I don’t think cold-turkey is going to work for me. I think I’ll have to ease my way into it. For now, I’ll just chug a five hour energy and two Red Bulls to tide my over.

Here’s some news from around the league …

  • Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen is worried about the lack of competitiveness in Major League Baseball right now. In his estimation, just 6 of the 15 teams in the National League are trying, which he believes is good for the Dodgers in the short-term, obviously, but bad for the sport in the long term. Which are the six teams, in Jansen’s estimation? Well, he says three teams in the NL West are trying (my guesses: Dodgers, Giants, Rockies), two teams in the NL Central are trying (my guesses: Cubs, Brewers? – the Cardinals seem to be trying, right?), and just one team in the NL East (my guess: Nationals).
  • Jansen then attacked the motives of teams: “They’re just not trying that hard,” Jansen said. “I think they are competing for the championship of revenue (profit). I think they are trying to see who can have the most revenue (profit). I think they don’t care about the trophy. No disrespect, but we want to see more teams be competitive.” He continued by asking how there’s at least another ten unsigned guys who can help any team win a championship lingering in free agency. “Every year there’s tanking. It’s obvious. They just made it more obvious this year.”
  • Eric Hosmer jumped in and added his two cents about the diminishing integrity of the game: “When you’re talking about players like Mike Moustakas and Carlos Gonzalez being jobless two, three weeks into spring training, that’s about the integrity of the game,” Hosmer said. “It means not every team is trying to win.” Although both Hosmer and Jansen received enormous contracts over the last two offseasons, it’s hard to disagree with them. Fortunately, it seems as though the union is fairly unified on this issue and will push to make changes that incentivize annual competitiveness (kinda weird that it’s gotten to that, huh?).
  • Remember the Rangers’ plans for a true six-man rotation this season? Well, maybe it won’t quite be so true. “Basically, there isn’t going to be a straight six-man rotation,” writes Jeff Wilson (Star-Telegram). “The plan, which at this point seems to be completely nebulous, is for five starters plus one.” Apparently Cole Hamels and Doug Fister both expressed their desire to continue pitching on normal rest, and the team plans on granting them that request. In fact, according to Wilson, the same is going to be true for Matt Moore and Martin Perez, too. So, yeah, basically just Mike Minor and Matt Bush will be working with different rest periods right now, which, in my opinion, means this isn’t a six-man rotation at all, really (at least not in terms of the benefits you might hope to get out of it). As you can see: buy-in matters.
  • At FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan examines the extreme importance of bullpens in today’s game … and the utter lack of year-to-year predictability (both good and bad) from those groups. Interestingly, because I don’t think I would’ve guessed this off-hand, the Cubs’ 2017 bullpen ranked fifth in baseball by Win Probability Added last season, and third in the National League. How about that?
  • Live your life like Brandon Crawford:

  • At Baseball Prospectus, Zach Crizer has a fun article up on what a Mike Trout “breakout” season might look like in 2018, relative to his already other-worldly performances. In other words, if Trout somehow took another step forward, given his age, what might that look like based on his 1%-chance-to-happen projection. How would a .354/.502/.717 season with 49 homers sound to you? That’s like Barry Bonds after he blew up numbers. I would sure love to watch that play out.
  • At FanGraphs, Travis Sawchik shares an idea for the Reds, wherein speedster Billy Hamilton would not start games, but instead become a pinch runner as soon as someone other than Joey Votto, the catcher, or the pitcher got on base (and then ultimately stay in the game). In this way, you could artificially raise Hamilton’s OBP (not literally, but practically), and better utilize his speed. Sawchik shared this idea with Hamilton, and let’s just say … he wasn’t thrilled about it. Sawchik seems to be aware that this is not a realistic idea, and even in the hypothetical, I think there are more problems than benefits.
  • In an hilarious and awesome story at NBS Sports, Craig Calcaterra explains how Nick Markakis came to threaten to kick the butt of Braves President of Baseball Operations John Hart, after Hart yelled at manager Brian Snitker loud enough for players to hear after a tough loss.
  • At FanGraphs, Rian Watt explores how GMs interact and communicate with one another (and with members of their own front offices) and you might be surprised to learn that they text … a lot. “Twenty-five years ago,” said an NL GM, “you’d call the office of the GM you wanted, usually get a secretary, and leave a message. Those who had direct lines, you might get a voicemail. It was different.” Another AL executive added, “It’s funny, I don’t know why we even go to the Winter Meetings anymore. It’s the most ridiculous thing in the world — we’re all sitting there in the same hotel, and everybody’s texting each other.”
  • Danny Salazar was a popular trade candidate this offseason, given the Indians’ volume of pitching and his immense talent. The problem is that he is often injured, and … he’s injured. Rotator cuff inflammation will keep him out past Opening Day.
  • And finally, in case you missed the big news today … BULLPEN CARTS ARE BACK!

Brett Taylor contributed to this post.

Author: Michael Cerami

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