MLBits: Harper's Small Market, Nelson Slowed, Reyes As "Elite", Neshek Predicts Strike, Knuckleballs, More

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MLBits: Harper’s Small Market, Nelson Slowed, Reyes As “Elite”, Neshek Predicts Strike, Knuckleballs, More

Chicago Cubs

The wife and I bought our first place in the city back in the middle of last summer and we still really love everything about it. HOWEVA, the constant upkeep is reaaaaaly testing my skills as a so-called “man of the house.”

I did manage to fix a plumbing issue on my own and rather quickly – quickly is about the only way you can fix a plumbing issue – but I didn’t fare so well on a drywall patching and re-painting. I suspect my dad will have to make a few more trips to the city with his tool box over the next couple months … he just doesn’t know it yet. I’ll buy him a hot dog or something.

Around the league …

  • I still believe Bryce Harper is going to end up with a deal he likes – especially after Manny Machado got 10 years and $300M straight-up (i.e. with no funky deferrals or swell-opts, etc.) – but I suppose it’s become at least possible he doesn’t go the long-term route.
  • According to Mark Feinsand, the Dodgers and Giants, two of Harper’s three primary suitors at this point (yes, the Dodgers are back in), are both legitimately interested in the free agent outfielder, but are still looking only at shorter-term deals (by the way, “shorter-term,” in this case, strikes me as something like 4-5 years, not 1-3). Indeed, Feinsand reports that the Phillies are now the ONLY team still talking about a true long-term deal with Harper, which … woof. That makes it tough to get what you want and certainly explains a lot.
  • Ultimately, I know it’s not going to happen with the Cubs, but my God there is just such a crater where a market should be. I wish they planned better and set themselves up to pounce on what could ultimately be a good deal (relatively speaking).
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
  • This is so much fun from FanGraphs: “Mike Trout has been as good as Manny Machado and Bryce Harper COMBINED.” I don’t want to spoil the post for you (there’s some fun graphs and whatnot), but in short, from 2012-2018, Harper and Machado combined for 60.9 WAR, while Trout has earned, on his own, 64.0 WAR. We often comment about generational talents, but Trout exceeds that distinction. He may well end up as the single greatest baseball player of all-time.
  • Speaking of generational players, I’m beginning to fear that Clayton Kershaw is losing his grip on that honor for the pitchers. There’s no doubt he’s among the most talented pitchers out there when he’s out there, but his inability to stay healthy is officially part of the story – Kershaw hasn’t made a full-season’s worth of starts since 2015, failing to top the 175.0 IP mark in three straight years. This Spring, he’s already been slowed down as reports that his shoulder “just didn’t feel right” during a recent throwing session have trickled out. Apparently, he’s playing catch today and has not had an MRI, but yeah … dude has had his issues.
  • Jim Bowden recently Tweeted that free agent closer Craig Kimbrel’s asking price has *still* not come down this winter (early rumors had him seeking upwards of six years, and maybe even upwards of $100 million), and is considering “sitting out the year if he doesn’t get close to his perceived value.” In typical fashion, Craig Kimbrel’s agent (via Ken Rosenthal) smacked that down harder than The Rock used to on Thursday nights: “The report is wholly inaccurate and Craig looks forward to signing a new contract in the near future. Any report pertaining to his not playing this season is utterly false.” Lol.
  • All that said, it’s nearly March, and one of the best closers in the game is still unsigned.
  • The Brewers are undoubtedly playing it safe with Jimmy Nelson, but after he failed to return *at all* last year, despite early projections to the contrary, you can imagine the tight butts in Milwaukee:

  • Nelson broke out in such a big way in 2017 and would be a big boon to the Brewers’ chances at repeating success this season. Since I’d rather the Cubs beat their rivals at full-strength, I’m hoping Nelson returns quickly and healthy … and then absolutely sucks, especially against the Cubs.
  • Elsewhere in NL Central rotational news, rehabbing Cardinals starter Alex Reyes is impressing:

  • I get the sense that Cubs fans don’t properly fear Reyes’ potential impact, because we’ve seen precious little of him since his big league debut in 2016, but if he’s healthy and in that rotation, he’s going to be very good. He wasn’t the top pitching prospect in baseball for nothing.
  • The Rockies have agreed to a three-year contract extension (through 2022) with manager Bud Black.
  • Yikes … According to Phillies reliever Pat Neshek: “Right now, there’s going to be a strike, 100 percent, after ’21.” He continued: “(Owners) have a lot more to lose than us, I think. The players have been talking about, for the last couple of years, putting money aside and I think we’re going to be ready for a fight. We’re willing to go multiple years and I don’t know if (owners) are willing to sacrifice.”
  • No matter who you think or feel is right in this case is almost irrelevant at this point. The owners owned the players in each of the last two CBAs so much that they MUST give back some of their gains if they hope to avoid a strike. Again, you can say the players did a poor job negotiating (they did), but pragmatically speaking, that doesn’t really matter. We, the fans, don’t want a strike, the owners shouldn’t want a strike, and the players certainly don’t want to strike. So just spare us the misery and return to the table in good faith. “Winning” the negotiations don’t mean much if you beat your negotiating partner so hard they want to go home.
  • I’m all for any changes to the game, I think Nate Silver is pretty smart, and I don’t doubt any of his data, but I just don’t see this happening … ever:

  • Instead of limiting the number of pitchers on a roster to 10, I think the league should move forward with a batter-minimum for relievers. You want that hard-throwing lefty to come in to face Kyle Schwarber? Well, he’s got to face Javy Baez right after. That should help offense improve *and* improve the pace-of-play/length of game with far less drastic measures.
  • The Commissioner recently touted MLB’s apparently impressive league parity, but according to Baseball Prospectus, parity is actually on the decline.
  • Back in June, I tweeted out this gif I found on Reddit of a KBO pitcher throwing an absolutely deadly knuckle ball:

  • Turns out that pitcher, Ryan Feiraband, has made his way back to the states and into American professional baseball thanks a Minor League deal with a non-roster invitation to big league camp with the Blue Jays. Jay Jaffe has more on his impressive knuckle ball and how/why he’s slowly introduced it into his repertoire. Bring back the knuckleball!
  • Despite originally preferring shortstop, Manny Machado will return to third base for the Padres next season. And while he was a fine shortstop, don’t forget that he is an *excellent* third baseman:


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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