MLBits: Rumors Already Heating Up? Low Attendance, Hot Starts, Injuries All Over, More

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MLBits: Rumors Already Heating Up? Low Attendance, Hot Starts, Injuries All Over, More

Chicago Cubs

It has still not stopped snowing. And I’m starting to get ticked off. I won’t necessarily be surprised (or upset) if I’m wearing shorts within two weeks either, but this is just ridiculous. C’est la Chicago. Grumble.

Here’s some news from around the league …

  • Have you noticed the Mets yet? They’re off to a 12-2 start over in New York, and already have a 3.0 game lead in the NL East (… over the Phillies (i.e. not the Nationals), who’ve won six straight). It’s very early, but that’s such a strong start that it makes it highly likely the Mets will be in the playoff hunt at least through the Trade Deadline.
  • Ken Rosenthal discusses some rumors that’ve popped up (and some from the offseason) in this Fox Sports spot:

  • Apparently, the Mets asked the Marlins about J.T. Realmuto and Starlin Castro over the offseason, but the Marlins told them they didn’t need to cut any more payroll. With that said, Rosenthal expects the Realmuto chatter to pick back up around mid-season. For what it’s worth, I agree. There’s no way Realmuto starts 2019 as a Marlin. By the way, Rosenthal discusses much more than that in the video (including Manny Machado/Yankees rumors (they might not wait until he’s a free agent to get him)) so be sure to check it out.
  • Jeff Passan is tracking the early season attendance figures and has noticed some significant and scary drops across baseball – including the Cubs – but I think his tease about the weather nails it:

  • I can’t speak for the more geographically-gifted teams, but I can say with certainty the weather in Chicago has been terrible *and* they’ve played just five games at home, so … yeah, not worried yet. Passan covers a lot more in his roundup.
  • Although this article is now a few days old, Jay Jaffe writes about the Pirates hot start to the season and how they may actually have some hope (and, to be clear, they’ve gone 2-1 since this article, so nothing’s really changed). But … I don’t buy it. We all lose our collective memory every season, when one or a few teams come out of nowhere with a hot start. Sure, some of them maintain it and surprise, but those are usually teams on the upswing arriving a year early, not a Pirates team that traded away Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole over the winter. Sure, they basically got Corey Dickerson for free, but I just doubt they walk away with this division, given how much stronger the Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals look on paper. That’s just too many games against good teams to maintain a lead (paging @OldTakesExposed).
  • And, of course, the recent loss of Josh Harrison won’t help – Harrison left the game yesterday after being hit in the hand with a pitch. After being evaluated by team doctors, Harrison is expected to miss six weeks with a fractured bone in his left hand. He wasn’t really mashing this year, but he’s an important part of that club and the everyday leadoff hitter, so they’ll definitely miss him.
  • Speaking of injured NL second basemen who are important to their team …

  • Given his age (33), the weather, and how hugely valuable Murphy’s been with the Nationals (10.2 WAR) over the past two seasons, it’s no surprise to see them taking it slow with his recovery. If he’s really starting his extended spring training today and will go on a rehab start soon after that, I still wouldn’t expect him back too far before mid-May. He’ll just be so far behind everyone else.
  • The Cardinals have activated infielder Jedd Gyorko and reliever Luke Gregerson from the disabled list today, which means the latter will make his 2018 debut against the Cubs tomorrow. Indeed, Gregerson will slide back into the back of the bullpen, but not into the closer role, which was taken over by Greg Holland at the last second. Meanwhile, with Jose Martinez’s hot start to the season, predicts that most of Gyorko’s playing time will come at the expense of second baseman Kolton Wong and perhaps even some time at third base in place of Matt Carpenter.
  • Relatedly, Yadier Molina officially passed Johnny Bench on the all-time innings caught list over the weekend:

  • In more injury news, Rays center fielder (and nightly highlight reel) Kevin Kiermaier has torn a ligament in his right thumb and is expected to miss 8-12 weeks. That’s a real bummer for all the obvious reasons, but also because Kiermaier, known primarily for his defense, posted one of his best offensive seasons last year. So, now at 27-years-old, I was excited to watch what a further offensive breakout could do to the overall value of arguable the best defensive center fielder in baseball.
  • Because it’s clearly just one of those weeks: Brewers catcher Manny Pina is hitting the disabled, too (retroactive to Friday), and they’re calling up catching prospect Jacob Nottingham. Nottingham isn’t a “top” prospect (#27 in the Brewers system according to MLB Pipeline), but he has been off to a hot start in Triple-A so far this year. Also, Pina is just the latest Brewer to hit the DL, as he joins catcher Stephen Vogt, who was yet to debut this season, outfielder Christian Yelich, who is actually eligible to return as soon as today, and Cory Knebel, who has a strained left hamstring.
  • At the New York Post, Joel Sherman discusses the future of the Mets rotation – specifically Matt Harvey’s future – as, for what feels like the first time ever, everyone just may be healthy at the same time. For his part, Harvey has been off to a rough start (4.80 ERA, 4.72 FIP) and has set a new Mets record for most consecutive starts without even reaching the sixth inning (11). He was able to dial it up to 95 MPH in the first inning over the weekend, but that velocity apparently fell off the map quickly thereafter. It’s almost too hard to believe that his big breakout 6.5 WAR season was all the way back in 2013. I wonder if he’ll ever truly get back on track. I doubt it, but I wonder it, too.
  • MLB will be in San Juan, Puerto Rico this week to play two regular-season games (Twins and Indians), while also giving back and supporting an island that was recently devastated by Hurricane Maria: “The week’s events begin early Monday morning with the Puerto Rico Series Golf Invitational, hosted by Major League Baseball Charities and featuring Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Roberto Alomar, along with former players Ed Figueroa, Orlando Merced, Joe Nathan and Dickie Thon. Proceeds from the tournament will benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico and Habitat for Humanity.” You can read all about the big week planned in Puerto Rico right here at
  • And if you haven’t seen it yet, here’s Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor returning to his former elementary school:

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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