Opening Day is exactly ONE MONTH away. That’s a good thing, right?
Here’s some notes from around the league …
- Giancarlo Stanton managed just 18 games last year thanks to biceps, shoulder, and knee issues, and now the 30-year-old slugger may miss the start of the season because of a calf strain. He is currently under contract for another eight years on the monster extension he signed with the Marlins back in 2015, though he could opt out after this season if he wanted. That seems unlikely.
- The New York Mets have a pretty creative – albeit dubious – idea for their vacant starting spot at the back of their rotation. Currently a battle between the lefty, Steven Matz, and the righty, Michael Wacha, the Mets are considering deploying either throughout the season based on the strength of the lefty/righty matchup on the other team. Now, obviously that’s all dependent on the health of the rest of the rotation, but it’s at least an interesting idea. I doubt it ever really gets to the point where they’re alternating starts as frequently and consistently as we might imagine, but I’m all for experimenting … when other teams’ records are at stake.
- Wanna hear something concerning? Phillies pitchers Zach Eflin and Zack Wheeler have both claimed to notice a difference in the baseballs they’ve been using at camp this year. Specifically, they believe the balls are softer and the seams are higher. That’s terrifying because the main argument of the juiced ball era – and specifically last season – was that the balls were harder and the seams were too low (which gives them an entire different feel when you’re pitching and less drag when you’re hitting). It’s not – individually – an issue to go back to the baseballs the sport used to use, but another dramatic, immediate change without any heads up from the league is just asking for trouble. And given their lack of transparency to this point – on this and other issues – why would fans or players not be suspicious of changes?
- The latest at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch confirms that Adam Wainwright does not like eating the crust on the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches he has before every game.
- Oh, I guess that article also discusses Carlos Martinez’s efforts to return to the Cardinals rotation, after injuries have kept him off the field or – at best – in the bullpen: “Look, he can’t be in the starter’s mix if he’s not out here,” manager Mike Shildt said. “And he is. He’s out here giving himself a legitimate shot to compete for that spot, and we’re pulling for him.” Martinez’s postgame recovery this spring will be under heavy watch, because his presence in the rotation over the course of the season can tilt the Cardinals’ fate one way or another.
- And the same can be said for former top prospect Alex Reyes, who is coming off his first healthy offseason in three years. Still just 25, Reyes was always this looming threat in St. Louis who never really got off the ground. He’s got tremendous abilities and could lead their rotation if he can stay on the field, so he’s another hugely important pitching story to follow in the NL Central. The Cardinals have no shortage of high-quality options, but they each come with plenty of risk.
- Mets corner infielder/outfielder J.D. Davis, who slashed .307/.369/.527 over 140 games in 2019 is going to get an MRI after suffering a shoulder injury yesterday diving for a ground ball. The Mets are currently projected to be among the top contenders in the NL East, so losing Davis for any significant period of time would be a pretty big blow:
Davis was examined by the Tigers team doctor and told there wasn’t labrum or rotator cuff damage.
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) February 25, 2020
J.D. Davis will undergo an MRI exam on his left shoulder tomorrow. Right now calling it a jammed left shoulder.
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) February 25, 2020
- Hey, maybe Tim Tebow can help fill in the space while Davis recovers:
Hey, Remember Tim Tebow? He Just Launched a Spring Training Homer for the Metshttps://t.co/1nnazJL2QG
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) February 25, 2020
- I kid, I kid. Probably.
- Max Scherzer, 36, may have made only 27 starts last season (failing to throw more than 200 innings in the regular season for the first time since 2012), but he still got results: 2.92 ERA, 2.45 FIP; 6.5 fWAR. He’s got two years left on that massive 7-year deal he signed the same offseason as Jon Lester, but now there’s talk of a possible extension following the Justin Verlander model: “I thought it was very fair compensation,” Scherzer said of Verlander’s $66M extension with the Astros. “And also the way it affects future players’ contracts in age-37, -38 seasons just helps push the boundary a little bit, which is something that’s important to me.” Given how consistently excellent he’s been … pretty much forever, I’d say he’s probably worth it.
- LOL … Astros. Come on:
Here’s that Verducci clip, on the 2017 WS sham:
“Kershaw threw 51 sliders and curveballs that day, and got *zero* swings and misses.” pic.twitter.com/wkjn3ivjA7
— 2020 Astros Shame Tour (@AsteriskTour) February 25, 2020
- Looking back on that season (and 2018) with the information we have today is sure to uncover additional oddities and every single one of them rekindles my attention to full-power. What total cheaters.
- Which means it’s good to laugh at this:
George Springer is showered in boos as he steps to the plate, tries to hit a ball far to silence the crowd and falls to a knee pic.twitter.com/HhRXIBOGyj
— SNY (@SNYtv) February 26, 2020
- According to the New York Post, Major League baseball plans to crack down on pitchers using foreign substances this year: “Chris Young, recently elevated by MLB to a senior VP to oversee on-field operations and umpire development, has been touring camps in Arizona and Florida to deliver the message that Rule 8.02 is going to be enforced this year ….” Rule 8.02 is the one that deals with pitchers taking foreign substances to the mound and applying them to the ball. Like stealing signs from second, as players and without the help of electronics or non-uniform personnel, this is one of those forms of “cheating” that we all kinda just know a lot of pitchers do. But there’s no doubt that some players are likely more egregious in their efforts than others. I’m all for cracking down on cheating before it happens.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.