MLBits: Cardinals Bullpen Takes a Hit, Braun at 1B, Suspensions, Vogelbach, More

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MLBits: Cardinals Bullpen Takes a Hit, Braun at 1B, Suspensions, Vogelbach, More

Chicago Cubs

Hey! I was on the latest Cubs Related Podcast – released earlier today – where Brendan, Corey, and I talked about the Cubs pitching staff for about an hour. If you’re so inclined, give it a listen.

Otherwise, let’s dig into some news from around the league …

  • Throughout the offseason, Brett and I must’ve mentioned the seemingly incomplete offseasons of the Brewers and Cardinals about a thousand times. Both teams got off to good starts and added some really quality pieces, but neither really finished the job. For the Brewers, that would’ve been landing an additional starter (though, they at least tried), and for the Cardinals it would’ve been adding another late-inning arm. The Brewers’ miss was exacerbated by an injury to Wade Miley, and, as for the Cardinals …
  • To be sure, the Cardinals made a solid, bounce-back addition in Luke Gregerson, who aims to be the closer this season, but that group is still pretty thin, even if there are some interesting pitching prospects in the upper minors who could eventually be of service. And unfortunately now, that decision to hold off on adding another arm might look even worse. According to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Gregerson is likely heading for a DL-stint to start the year. Earlier in the spring, Gregerson dealt with an oblique strain that kept him out of action, and now he’s “hobbling” around because of a mild hamstring strain. The Cardinals could backdate his DL stint to his last Cactus League appearance, but that won’t really matter, because he still won’t be ready as soon as he heals up (he’s thrown only three innings so far this Spring, so he’ll definitely need some ramp up time).
  • The Cardinals signed Gregerson to a two-year/$11 million deal (with a 2020 option for $5M) earlier this winter. When he’s healthy, he’s expected to be their closer, but until then, they’ll have some questions. (Will they finally go after Greg Holland?)
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
  • Last season, only Mike Trout had a higher OBP than Aaron Judge (in the American League), and apparently his new manager, Aaron Boone, has taken notice … and action. In today’s Yankees lineup, Boone had Aaron Judge scheduled to hit leadoff, and, apparently, that’s something he’s considering for the regular season. Not unlike the Cubs, the Yankees can afford to have one of their best hitters lead off, because (well, it’s a good thing anyway) there’s so much other offensive potential up-and-down the lineup (Giancarlo Stanton, Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez, etc.) to make up for any loss of thump in the middle. Good luck.
  • #Journalism:

  • During yesterday’s Phillies/Tigers SPRING TRAINING game, one Tigers pitcher, two Phillies pitchers, the Phillies’ manager, and the Phillies bench coach were all tossed after a series of hit-by-pitches were exchanged. Some seemed pretty purposeful (to me), others not-so-much. Ultimately, though, it was all very confusing – especially because the Phillies and Tigers aren’t exact arch-rivals … and it was Spring Training. Who knows.
  • At FanRag, Jon Heyman has a ton of notes on a bunch of different teams, so you’ll want to check it out in its entirety. Among the highlights … Heyman reports that the Cubs offer to Alex Cobb was actually for four years and $48 million, not three years and $42 million like we had originally heard. He ultimately wound up getting $57 million from the Orioles, as Heyman points out as a win, but he didn’t mention the deferrals which brings the present value of the contract closer to … $48 million. So, seems like that was his price level after all.
  • If you recall, the Marlins recently got some bad news on the pitching front, when #2 starter Dan Straily suffered a right elbow strain and was headed for an MRI. The good news is that the MRI is clean, the bad news is they’re not out of the woods entirely:

  • Regardless, it seems likely that Straily will not pick up the ball for the second game of the season (against the Cubs), which is just one week from today.
  • Earlier in this post, I pointed out that Aaron Judge’s OBP was second only to Mike Trout last season, but added “in the American League,” as a qualifier, because Joey Votto is inhuman. Last season, Votto was one of the best hitters in baseball (he was the best in the NL), slashing .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs and a 19.0% walk rate (11.7 K%). That’s just … wow. He’s somehow still underrated, I think. Anyway, I bring that up because Travis Sawchik wonders how long Votto, who’ll turn 35 at the end of this season, can stave off a decline. He actually got a bit *better* last season, so … maybe he’ll be one of those still playing for another decade. He’s already a Hall-of-Famer, in my opinion.
  • Here’s something I don’t think any of us expected to see in March of 2018:

  • Sure, the Dodgers are playing without Justin Turner, so there’s a little more room in the lineup than usual, but still … good for Matt Kemp. The guy’s been worth a combined 1.6 WAR in the FIVE total seasons since his last good year with the Dodgers in 2012, but he’s back in L.A. and has turned a .283/.320/.487 Spring slash line into a starting job with the NL West favorites on Opening Day.
  • Also taking advantage of the spring? Former Cubs prospect Dan Vogelbach. The Mariners’ first baseman leads all of MLB (this Spring) with a .383/.500/.830 slash line (1.330 OPS) and might just finally break out. And it’s probably not just luck and small samples. Although we always knew he had the potential to be a great hitter, Vogelbach took the offseason to buy into the fly ball revolution, and it appears that really unlocked his power potential (a lot like Ian Happ). Good for him.
  • Yesterday, we discussed the apparent injury to D-Backs outfielder Steven Souza, and today we get confirmation: he has a strained pectoral muscle. Translation: not as bad as the “major shoulder injury” looked at first report. He’ll still be out a couple of weeks, but that’s not nearly as bad as it could’ve been.
  • After being investigated by MLB for sexual assault, Miguel Sano will not be suspended this year. Apparently, to MLB, there was not enough evidence to substantiate the accusation:

  • I struggle to react to this. If Sano is truly innocent, the result is, of course, appropriate. However, it’s difficult to feel completely clear when MLB bases its decision on a lack of evidence and contemporaneous substantiation (i.e., the allegation was based on something that purportedly happened a while ago). So, yeah, I don’t know. MLB has been pretty progressive in managing these sort of allegations in recent years (Aroldis Chapman was suspended, despite escaping legal ramifications), but something feels odd about this one.
  • Along similar lines, Steven Wright has been suspended 15 games …

  • If you were unaware, Wright was charged with domestic assault and preventing a 911 call, which are both misdemeanors in Tennessee, and released on a $2,500 bond. He will now be suspended 15 games.
  • On a much lighter note, get hyped:

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Author: Michael Cerami

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