It might be the two cups of coffee I downed too quickly, but I’m feeling good today. I’ve got too much energy to work – it’s like an opposite of having a case of the Mondays. I have a case of the Fridays!
Here’s the latest from around the league …
- Regardless of how this free agent market turns out, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are going to land massive contracts this winter. They just will. Maybe they won’t be record-breaking, but they’ll each get more than $200M guaranteed, in my opinion, and I’m pretty confident about that. HOWEVA, there’s no arguing that the expected value of those deals has gone down dramatically, and Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs has the perfect study of it.
- Back in October, Sullivan polled fans to find out what sort of contract we expected Harper and Machado to get and then he did it again in January. The differences are pretty astonishing. Harper’s median crowd-sourced contract prediction dropped from $330M to $279M and his average dropped from $300.1M to $265.8M. The number of years he’s expected to get dropped from between 9-10 in October to 8-9 in January, as well. Machado’s predictions follow a similar path across the board. It’s a pretty fun table and write-up to peruse, so check it out.
- This is … not a great look:
Jarring chart over at @fangraphs via @craigjedwards, especially when you consider that player payroll was DOWN in 2018. Sure there are still some FAs to sign, but it's still gonna look bad. https://t.co/xOvU14JRbM pic.twitter.com/64zH5J4dUm
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 18, 2019
- Like Brett said, some payrolls will keep going up, but many of the teams still expected to land key free agents and trade targets – Dodgers, Reds, White Sox, Nationals, Brewers, Phillies, and Yankees (i.e. the teams included all the best rumors) – are already on the positive side of chart. So we might not actually see many more new teams cross from the right to the left. Moreover, if spending were tracking league revenues, *most* teams would be on the positive side of the ledger.
- But the lack of additional spending won’t be for lack of options: At Yahoo Sports, Ben Weinrib notes that the remaining free agents alone would form an immediate playoff contender. And remember, this class has already lost Patrick Corbin, Josh Donaldson, Yasmani Grandal, Nelson Cruz, Andrew McCutchen, Michael Brantley, and a dozen other quality names … like future NL Central POWERHOUSE Daniel Descalso.
- The Yankees already insanely good bullpen is once again going to be insanely good this season. Whoopdeefreakindooo for them.
- Last season, Tim Tebow was technically an above-average hitter at the Double-A level (106 wRC+), slashing .273/.336/.399. He struck out a ridiculous 34.6% of the time, but it’s not like he never walked (7.4%). In any case, for that effort, the Mets have invited him to big league camp. He’s almost certainly going to start the year out at Triple-A, but this might finally be the season we see him at the big league level (though don’t count on it before September). I don’t think he’s going to make it as a big leaguer, no, but I’m not going to lie, I NEVER thought he’d be able to be an above average hitter at Double-A. That is a legitimate accomplishment for any professional baseballer, and you should probably be pretty impressed by that for a guy who was away from the sport for so long.
- Oh, Hawk … if you were anymore you, we couldn’t handle it:
Hawk Harrelson: “Retirement is overrated. All I’m doing is watching Walker Texas Ranger and turning a lot of Smirnoff into urine.”
— Chris Mason (@ByChrisMason) January 18, 2019
- Whenever the Hall of Fame ballots come out every year, a new debate is sparked regarding who should and should not gain access. That’s not unique to America. Japan’s highest league obviously has a Hall of Fame all to their own, and it, too, is not light on controversy. For example, one former big leaguer (you might remember him), Tuffy Rhodes had quite a career in Japan. He slashed .286/.381/.559 over 13 seasons, is the all-time home run leader among foreign-born players (464 HRs), is tied for the 11th most home runs overall, and tied the single-season home run record (at the time) back in 2001 (55 HRs). And yet … he’s not even coming close to cracking their Hall-of-Fame ballots. Although racism can’t entirely be counted out in this instance since other foreign-born players have fared better – you can read more about that here and here, as it’s not coming from me directly – it doesn’t seem to be the source of the issue.
- Instead, it appears that some combination of him, personally – you can read some anecdotes right here – and some controversy over trying to break that home run record back in 2001 did him in. To that last point, it *seems* as though some Japanese players/pitchers/coaches/whatever might not have wanted someone not-Japanese to break that revered record. In any case, it’s very difficult to talk about this with any objectivity or clarity, because I really don’t have any insight into this story before today. Nonetheless, it was very interesting to read about, so do that here and here.
- Also, enjoy watching Tuffy Rhodes homer three times for the Cubs on Opening Day 1994: