The Chicago Cubs lost two out of three to open the season – despite scoring 28 runs – but at least they did it against an AL West team. We’re all obviously ticked off by the poor start to the season – a season that was supposed to be defined by urgency – but I can imagine it being worse.
The Braves, for example, are planning on contending in a loaded NL East division this year, but started the season out with three straight losses to the division-rival Phillies. And the Cardinals lost three of four to the Brewers to open things up. That all probably hurts a little more.
- Of course, as Cubs fans, those three Brewers wins are almost just as bad – at least, in terms of annoying me. The Cardinals might forever be the Cubs’ true rivals, but the Brewers stole the division last year in a tie-breaking game at Wrigley Field, and Christian Yelich beat out Javy Baez for MVP. And what happens this season? The Brewers get all the fun out of the gate. Lorenzo Cain robbed a home run to win a game, Christian Yelich hit a two-run, walk-off double, and they’ve already beaten the Cardinals three times.
- And even when Javy Baez starts the year out on fire, hitting two homers and otherwise looking locked in, Christian Yelich smacks four homers through his team’s first four games – a feat matched only by Willie Mays, Mark McGwire, Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis and Trevor Story.
Ryan Braun on Christian Yelich: "I think everybody should take the time to appreciate it, because what we’re witnessing is greatness."
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) March 31, 2019
You can't "create" whatever natural talent Yelich has, but man alive, I hope every analyst in the Cubs' organization is studying what he's doing with a ravenous intensity, because it is impossible. And yet he's doing it.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) March 31, 2019
- As FullCountTommy pointed out on Twitter, Yelich has a 49.2% home run to fly ball ratio over his last 308 plate appearances. The record for a player with a minimum of 300 PAs in a single season? Ryan Howard in 2006 and it wasn’t even particularly close (39.5%). Seriously. I’m going to need a puke bag.
Christian Yelich has 40 HRs from his last 110 fly balls, dating to the start of last season.
Since 7/20 (post All-Star Break), he has 29 HRs in his last 59 fly balls. https://t.co/rY6EYBpGXw
— Andy (@Behind_The_Ivy) March 31, 2019
⚠️ Caution ⚠️
These numbers may be too hot to touch. pic.twitter.com/7565qRp1si
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) April 1, 2019
- Go away, Christian.
- The Braves might not have been taking their beating at the hands of the Phillies well, because reliever Shane Carle was ejected for throwing at Rhys Hoskins right after Bryce Harper launched a home run. It’s not entirely clear if it was on purpose, but it sure sounds like some people think it was. The NL East is going to be an absolute battleground this year. That should be fun to watch.
- Here’s that mammoth homer if you missed it:
- Through his first 13 plate appearances, Harper has two homers, a double, and four walks. Good for him.
- Rockies first baseman – and former Cub – Daniel Murphy is heading to the Injured List with a fractured index finger. There is not yet a timetable for the return: “I think I’ve got a fracture in it, so if I’m not mistaken, I’m supposed to go see a hand specialist on Monday,” said Murphy, who joined the team in December on a two-year, $24 million contract. “It was sore. I was able to finish the game and take some at-bats. I came in today, got an X-ray of it, and it ended up being, from what I understand, what we were hoping it wasn’t.”
- If you missed it, the Red Sox handed out another big extension recently, signing shortstop Xander Bogaerts to the TENTH deal of $100M or more in the last six weeks. We discussed it here. According to Jeff Passan, in the five months since the beginning of free agency, teams have committed roughly $4 billion – with a “B” – to players in future salaries. Also according to Passan, that’s a new record. HOWEVA, that doesn’t actually mean baseball is fixed and free agency is no longer a problem. Passan runs through a series of very important caveats, including a not on the high concentration of dollars at the top: “more than half the money spent this winter went to 10 players.” It’s a good read that helps clear up some of the existing confusion these massive extensions have brought – the sort of confusion MLB teams do not hate at all.
- This sounds like a really great idea:
The MLBPA is announcing today multiple staff changes & additions, including a new position to work with players & agents on the growing use of analytics by clubs negotiating player contracts.https://t.co/g70Ys49DEE pic.twitter.com/A5EWfzM6mq
— Liz Mullen (@SBJLizMullen) April 1, 2019
- There’s no doubt – and it’s no surprise – that teams have had the upper hand in this respect, because unlike player agencies, a large portion of their job is to evaluate players more effectively than anyone else in the world. If the MLBPA can get some of those minds on their side, players may stand a better chance defending themselves.
- Back on February 25th, new Reds pitcher Alex Wood, who came over in a trade with the Dodgers, experienced some back stiffness and was forced to start the season on the IL because of it. Originally, the target return date was mid-April, and although there haven’t actually been any setbacks Reds Manager Dave Bell is now calling that timeline “a little aggressive.” By all accounts, Wood is progressing, but is simply going to need time to build up arm strength like every pitcher does during Spring Training – not unlike the issues for Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel.
- I don’t know if there’s anything more embarrassing in baseball than getting thrown out at first base from right field. I know it’s not always within a player’s control, but it just always looks so bad (and hilarious):