Happy Opening Day!
What? Did you not realize that regular season baseball started today? The Seattle Mariners took down the Oakland A’s in Japan early this morning (well, for us) and it really counted towards their 162. They’ll play again tomorrow morning (4:35 am CT) … and then still technically have three more Spring Training games back here in the States before the season opens up in earnest next week.
Talk about a wonky schedule.
- As for the game, itself, the Mariners beat the A’s by a final score of 9-7 and Ichiro Suzuki got to start in right field. Here’s a short clip of his entrance and reception from the adoring crowd:
- Ultimately, Ichiro batted ninth and was given just two at-bats (pop-up, walk), but I’m sure the whole experience meant a lot, regardless of the outcome. I’m pretty sure he’ll start again tomorrow, but after that, he’s not necessarily a lock for the roster all season. Indeed, despite his intentions and declarations, he might be nearing the end of what has been an absolutely brilliant career.
- And for a little example of just how long that career has been, consider this fun little fact:
Ichiro & Fernando Rodney both appeared in the same MLB game in 2002… as well as 2019
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) March 20, 2019
- And you know what, while that’s wild all by itself, it’s even crazier when you remember that back in 2002 – Ichiro’s *second* season in MLB – he was already 28 years old. Dude has been playing professional baseball since 1992 (!!) – that’s just a few months after I was born. If he can really hang on until he’s 50, like he says, he’ll have a 30+ year professional career.
- Given that he’s still throwing rockets from right field at age-45 … maybe it’s not impossible.
- At The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal discusses Mike Trout’s deal (what? you thought you’d already heard the end of it?) from the perspective of Angels owner Arte Moreno. In short, Rosenthal believes Moreno would have done almost anything to avoid being “the owner who let Mike Trout walk away,” which was probably the right call. I’ve seen takes about this deal from both sides (i.e. too much and not enough), but I honestly think this was a pretty square pact. Trout shattered the total commitment record by about $100M and set a new AAV record over 12(!) years. He got plenty. And Moreno … he got Trout for life. Oh, by the way, Arte Moreno is worth $3 BILLION according to Google. I think he’ll be just fine after this little expense.
With Mike Trout’s deal today, four of the six richest contracts in @MLB history have been agreed to in the last 29 days. That includes the two largest guarantees in North American pro sports history. #Baseball @MLBNetwork @FOXSports
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) March 19, 2019
- According to Yankees beat reporter Brendan Kuty, Gio Gonzalez said that his freshly inked deal with the Yankees was the *only offer he got.” That actually blows my mind. Regardless of how you think he’s trending, Gio is a pitcher who made 32 starts in each of the last three seasons, who finished sixth in the Cy Young voting just two seasons ago, and whose FIP in 2018 was almost exactly league average. And yet, he got one offer … and it was a split minor/major league deal. Regardless of whether you think that’s fair or not, it is CLEARLY different than the past.
- Clayton Kershaw will officially open the season on the injured list. Apparently, he’s been slowed by some inflammation in his left shoulder and hasn’t been pitching lately. With that said, he *will* face live batters today, and if it goes well, he could actually be back sooner than expected. In fact, from the sound of it, the Dodgers won’t let Kershaw pitch in some of the upcoming exhibition games, because witholding him will let them back-date his IL placement ensuring an earlier return (if he’s ready).
- In related, but even more Cubs-direct news: Brewers pitchers Jeremy Jeffress and Jimmy Nelson will both start the season on the Injured List. The Brewers appear to be feigning no concern, but with no official timetable in place, it’d be hard to have much confidence. For what it’s worth, it sounds like Nelson will head straight out on a Minor League rehab assignment (they’ll just have to see how he is and decide from there), while the hope is that Jeffress can return before the end of April. Those two arms play a disproportionately large role to the Brewers chances this season, so missing any time – or lacking any effectiveness – could be huge.
- A couple more extensions to report:
The Rays officially announce they've signed 2B/OF Brandon Lowe to a 6-year contract with two club options. Deal is for $24 million guaranteed and can be worth up to $49 million with options and incentives. Lowe is the No. 93 prospect on the BA Top 100
— Kyle Glaser (@KyleAGlaser) March 20, 2019
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 20, 2019
- And in case you missed it, the Astros also extended star third baseman Alex Bregman last night (6 years/$100M).
- At The New York Post you can read an exclusive excerpt from the new book “Inside the Empire: The True Power Behind the New York Yankees” which includes some pretty wild anecdotes about Derek Jeter (who seems like … not my favorite person). There’s details about how Jeter and GM Brian Cashman interacted, as well as information on the Giancarlo Stanton deal that eventually came together. For example, do you remember this quote from Jeter to Stanton: “Take this f–ing deal with the Giants or the Cardinals, or I promise you I’m trading everybody around you and you’ll be stuck here forever.” Sounds like a fun guy.
- The Wall Street Journal has a piece on women in baseball, specifically with information from the Oakland A’s scouting coordinator, Haley Alvarez. Alvarez was hired as the A’s scouting coordinator at the age of 24 back in 2017, and was the first woman in their front office to be hired as a talent evaluator. She’s not the only woman in MLB, but I think it’s clear that she shouldn’t – and most certainly will not – be the last.