MLBits: Pillar's Very Scary Moment, Trading Story and Gray, Astros Do Something Right, Better Bats, More

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MLBits: Pillar’s Very Scary Moment, Trading Story and Gray, Astros Do Something Right, Better Bats, More

Chicago Cubs

Hey, it’s been a while since we’ve taken a tour around the league, and there’s a lot of interesting and fun stuff to get to. Well, after this first thing, which is a reminder that the HBP epidemic is seriously a problem.

Scary Moment for Kevin Pillar

I’ve seen plenty of videos of guys getting hit in the face with a pitch, but this is easily one of the absolute worst. If you’re squeamish, I’d strongly suggest not watching, as you can see blood literally drip off the face of Kevin Pillar as he crawls away from the plate after being hit with a 94 MPH fastball square on the nose.

https://twitter.com/unbsportsmlb/status/1394464317827846147?s=20

Pillar was able to walk off the field on his own, but was then taken to the hospital, where it was determined that he suffered multiple nasal fractures. He’s meeting with a “facial specialist” in Atlanta to determine the next steps. More here.

Fortunately, it does seem like he’ll be okay. But man … that was scary:

Rockies Trade Pieces (Story, Gray, Etc.)

The last-place Colorado Rockies (15-27) are in a division with three of the best teams in MLB, and they recently fired their GM, traded Nolan Arenado, and failed to extend Trevor Story. So, needless to say, they’re going to be sellers come July, and the rumors are already starting.

In fact, according to Robert Murray, the Rockies began putting feelers out there for rental starter Jon Gray during spring training, and rival executives believe he’ll be one of the first players dealt before the deadline. Given how well Gray has pitched (he was blown up yesterday, but had a 2.93 ERA through his first 8 starts) and how little he costs, that certainly tracks. Teams always need starters at the deadline, and Gray, 29, is a young, effective rental making very little money ($6M) this season. Although the Cubs could find themselves as sellers this July, I don’t actually think Gray’s presence will interfere too much with their plans. Sure, Jake Arrieta, Trevor Williams, and Zach Davies are all short-term guys who could theoretically be available, but with the exception of Davies, who’s also young and has a more recent track record of success, those guys aren’t really in the same tier as a Gray. And Davies has only just now begun to turn things around, so who knows where that goes.

Murray also hears that shortstop Trevor Story, another rental, is very firmly on the trade block and expected to be moved before the deadline. Mark Feinsand (MLB.com) examined six possible landing spots for Story, including the Yankees, A’s, Brewers, Reds, and Rays. Story is making $17.5M this year (about $6M over the final two months), which doesn’t quite price him out of anybody’s range right off the bat, but certainly plays a role for all those teams but the Yankees.

With that said, I can see why the Brewers might want to be aggressive right now. The NL Central is very winnable, the Christian Yelich window is still open, and they have two top-shelf starters (Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff) leading their rotation. Plus, despite some generally solid teams over the past few years, they’ve come up short in the postseason department. So a big push now does make sense. The same goes for the Reds, though I could see them having more interest in Gray than Story, and only if they can stick around the NL Central race for another couple months.

In terms of competition for the Cubs on the trade market, if it comes to that, Story is probably a mixed bag. I certainly hope the Cubs aren’t forced to trade anybody, but they have a number of position players on expiring contacts, including three big ones along the infield: Kris Bryant, Javy Báez, and Anthony Rizzo (but nobody really wants to see that, just sayin’). Position players already don’t fetch significant returns on the mid-season trade market, and high quality alternatives like Story make it even tougher.

Astros Doing Something Right

Hey, credit where it’s due: The Houston Astros are providing furnished apartments to all of their minor-league players across all levels this season. It seems incredibly obvious to me that taking care of your minor league players is an EASY competitive advantage for all sorts of reasons, most teams simply do not do enough.

“Better sleep = Better player development,” agent Rafa Nieves of Republik Sports said. “If you have eight apartments in each minor league city to house four players in each apartment, it’s probably $15K average per month. That’s $60K/month across all levels. Four levels = $240K per season.”

With housing taken care of, players can use their (still too small) salaries on other stuff … like, you know, food and not having side jobs as Uber drivers to buy more food.

Odds and Ends

•   Finding competitive advantages is a never-ending process. Now we have to think of which bats our players use and how that might have a significant effect on their production? Yeesh. My head’s spinning.

•   You know what I think? Swing away always, apologize never. Even when you’re up 11 runs in the 9th inning with two outs on a 3-0 pitch from a position player (okay … that is stretching me to the limit, but Yermin Mercedes still has my support for this):

•   I often like to remind folks that even though we all know Mike Trout is the best player in MLB, he’s also still somehow underrated overall. Well, I think we might be approaching a similar place with Shohei Ohtani. This guy is leading the Majors in home runs (13) AND ALSO has a 2.10 ERA over five starts:

•   I mean, what are we doing here? This guy is at the top of his field in two completely distinct aspects of baseball. How is this even possible? I believe he’s FAR better than we even imagined he could be. This is like a 99.9% percentile outcome. Also, come on:

•   Yu Darvish is just so nasty. This pitch looks fake.

•   The new Marlins City Connect jerseys are not for me, personally, but I can see the appeal. I’m really looking forward to the Cubs City Edition jerseys (remember, they’re one of only 7 teams doing it this year):


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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