There’s a lot to get to in these MLBits today – not to mention a game coming up shortly – so let’s skip the fancy intro and go straight to the main course.
Here’s some news from around the league …
- Mercifully, the Dodgers got the day off yesterday, after being swept in four straight by the Cincinnati Reds … in Los Angeles. Baseball is strange enough that any team can beat any other team on any given day, but I don’t think anyone in their right mind would’ve bet that the 1) Reds, of all teams, were going to 2) sweep the 3) Dodgers, of all teams, in 4) four straight games, at 5) Dodger Stadium this season. That is an utter low-point for Los Angeles, who now sit 7.5 games out of first place in the NL West.
- Indeed, things have gotten so bad that we’re officially at Q&As with Andrew Friedman levels. Feel free to click through and read along to make yourself feel better about the Cubs start (which hasn’t really been that bad, especially by comparison).
Andrew Friedman: "If we had to assign blame at this point, it should be me who is taking that." And on Dave Roberts: "There is no doubt in my mind that he is the right guy to lead this team going forward."
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) May 14, 2018
- Sticking with the Dodgers for a beat, Buster Olney wonders if Clayton Kershaw will ultimately opt out for free agency or stay put after 2018. While I appreciate the genuinely thoughtful consideration he put into that piece (Olney examines every possible angle for opting out or not), I just can’t see why he wouldn’t. If Kershaw stays put he’ll earn $35M in 2019 and again in 2020, which, sure, is an absolutely ridiculous amount of money … and something I’d say, oh, 29 teams (including the Dodgers) would be willing to beat (the Marlins might still make an exception (lolololol)). So even if he wants to stay in L.A. he might as well opt out and get more money. They’ll give it to him.
- At the L.A. Times Bill Shaikin collects throughts from Scott Boras on the upcoming offseason, with looks back into the free agent mess last winter.
- At Yahoo Sports, Jeff Passan argues that the recent Supreme Court ruling on legalized sports gambling stands to benefit baseball more than any other sport. It’s a really fantastic read, and if you’re going to pick just one of these today, I’ll suggest this one.
- A.J. Pollock was a perfectly good player from his debut in 2012 through the 2014 season, but he really started turning heads in 2015, when he hit .315/.367/.498 with 20 homers and 6.8 fWAR. Sadly, he broke his elbow in 2016 and missed most of the year and then saw just 112 games last season, as he dealt with a right groin strain. Needless to say, Pollock, a free agent at the end of the year, needed to show that he was capable of staying healthy and productive here in 2018 if he wanted to make the big bucks this winter. Fortunately, he’s been hitting better than ever (156 wRC+). Unfortunately, he just suffered a sprained left thumb and now needs to visit a hand specialist. Here’s a look at the play (it’s not pretty, if you have a weak stomach):
Here's A.J. Pollock rolling his wrist on that diving attempt. pic.twitter.com/o3b71leJuB
— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) May 15, 2018
- He’ll be back at some point, but I do wonder how teams will value him come November.
- No matter how much I try to stop it, Eloy Jimenez continues his march to the Major Leagues and remains as likable off the field as he is talented on it. At The Athletic, James Fegan writes that Jimenez is the type of player everyone feels inspired to nickname. From “Lamantha,” to “The Big Baby,” to “The Big Equalizer,” to “E,” to “Da Bess,” I’m growing more jealous every day. So if you’re interested and able, check out this piece at the Athletic for some Q&As with Jimenez and a final line that’ll leave your stomach in knots: “See you soon in Chicago.”
- Alex Reyes is working his way back to the Cardinals, where he could be a very significant upgrade in the rotation (or in the bullpen) when he returns. Indeed, in his second rehab start, Reyes struck out 12 batters (in A-ball, but still) over five innings. He also touched 100 MPH and through 80 pitches (51 for strikes). He’s not expected back until late May or early June, but still … he looks strong and like he’s ticketed for the Cardinals rotation (which is currently without ace Carlos Martinez and has dealt with a struggling Adam Wainwright, who has, himself, been on the DL twice).
- Baseball is broken:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) May 15, 2018
- Need more evidence?
There are a million ways to show MLB's crazy strikeout inflation, and here's one more: 2017 was the first season ever in which catchers recorded more putouts than first basemen. In 2018, catchers are recording 10.2% more putouts than first basemen.
— Ted Berg (@OGTedBerg) May 15, 2018
- None of that is even the slightest bit good for the longevity of the sport. And as much as it might pain us to say, changes to the rules/field/mound/ball/bats/whatever might soon be downright necessary. Unfortunately, the fact that offense is up right now is an issue:
The fundamental problem for MLB: all this stuff is happening while offense is *up.* In other words, what the hitters are doing is working. There will be no natural course-correction here. If you want to see more balls in play, it's going to require some kind of rule change(s). https://t.co/ukAnW0Rs3G
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) May 15, 2018