If you’re feeling down about your baseball team (and there’s plenty of reason for that in Chicago these days), just remember, you’re not a Tigers or A’s fan!
Before we get into today’s MLBits, I want to take a moment to wish all of the Dads that frequent BN a happy Father’s Day. I’ll be enjoying a round of golf with my Dad and brothers on Sunday and then a lovely family BBQ with my wife and little ones, and I hope your Father’s Day Weekend is equally as enjoyable.
Major Mess in Motown
I thought that the Detroit Tigers would be much better than they have been this season. I opined before the season began that the White Sox – widely considered the favorite to win the AL Central – should worry more about the Tigers in the long term than the Twins or Guardians. And maybe that holds true over time, but right now, that seems like a comically bad prediction.
The Tigers are 24-39 and have lost seven of their last ten. They trail the Twins by 12 games and are just three games behind Oakland in the inverse standings for the worst record in MLB. They were throttled by the White Sox this week, and after a 13-0 loss on Wednesday that included the Tigers throwing three position players, the clubhouse was closed to the media after the game while the Tigers held a players-only meeting.
The Tigers’ big splashes in free agency that supported the idea that Detroit was on the rise have been total misses to date. Eduardo Rodriguez signed a five-year, $77 million dollar deal this offseason. He’s been mediocre, then hurt, and now gone entirely due to personal reasons. While I hope everything works out for Rodriguez off the field, the on-field results thus far have been a bust.
Then there’s Javier Báez, who signed a six-year, $140 million deal with the Tigers this offseason. Báez – once one of the game’s brightest young stars with the Cubs – is hitting .188 through his first 161 at-bats. Báez’s .232 OBP ranks 156th of 157 qualified players in baseball, and his 47 wRC+ is dead last.
Tigers skipper AJ Hinch says he’s not happy with Báez’s mental approach. The Tigers say they’re not satisfied with their performances as a team, and everything is a big ‘ole mess in Motown right now.
Tigers beat writer Cody Stavenhagen put together an excellent read on the Báez, and the Tigers struggles in a recent column at The Athletic:
But it’s not just the new guys that haven’t shown up for the Tigers; it’s everyone and everything. The offense has been historically bad. As Jay Jaffe points out in a recent column at FanGraphs, the Tigers are the worst offense since 1947. They’re dismal 2.71 runs per game, and 70 wRC+ leads a field of historically inept offenses, none more recent than that 1981 Toronto Blue Jays, who finished the season at 3.10 runs per game.
A’s Fire Sale Annoying MLB Owners
Speaking of significant messes, the Oakland A’s are probably the enormous mess in baseball right now. At 22-43 and losers of eight of their last ten, the Athletics are the worst team in baseball today, but their catastrophic mess spans far beyond this season’s standings.
Just two years ago, the A’s were in the playoffs, but after their most recent strip-down, they’re in the cellar and have as many questions surrounding their off-field future as their on-field future with no stadium deal in place and plenty of talk about relocation surrounding the franchise. Now, other MLB owners are voicing their displeasure with the A’s using revenue-sharing money to line their pockets instead of using it to field a competitive roster.
Christian Yelich Trending in the Right Direction
It wasn’t that long ago that Christian Yelich was a perennial MVP candidate after arriving in Milwaukee from Miami. During the 2018 and 2019 seasns, Yelich combined for 14.1 fWAR to go along with a 1.046 OPS, 170 wRC+, 80 home runs, and 218 RBI.
Then came a fractured knee cap in September of 2019 and then COVID-19’s shortened and wonky 2020 season. 2021 wasn’t much better for Yelich, who failed to live up to the expectations of the nine-year, $215 million contract extension that Yelich signed. While Yelich hasn’t been 18-19 good this year, he’s been getting closer to being that player again.
Yelich is just a tick under league average with a 99wRC+ and has seven home runs and a .325 OBP for the Brewers this season, but he’s riding a nine-game hitting streak that features a pair of home runs and an exit velocity among the best in baseball. Most of that nine-game hitting streak has occurred with Yelich in the leadoff spot while Kolten Wong is sidelined. Yelich is slashing .343/.378/.514 with a 144 wRC+ in the top spot in the order, a place that Yelich told The Athletic‘s Ken Rosenthal he thinks is “pretty cool.”
“I just like that role, for whatever reason,” said Yelich. “I don’t know how to explain it. But it’s cool, man. On the road, it’s super cool. You’re starting a major-league baseball game. That’s sick.
“In 2019, I led off the All-Star Game. I remember walking up to the plate: ‘We’re starting the All-Star Game. Justin Verlander. Gary Sánchez. It’s the major-league All-Star Game.’ Not that many people can say they’ve done that. I get to do that. There’s one person every year that gets to do that.
“You need a reminder sometimes that this is the big leagues. S—’s tough sometimes. You face some adversity. For me, I like to look around before I walk up there, look at the stadium, and look out at the field. It’s the f—— big leagues, man. This s—’s cool.”
Whether or not Yelich will remain in that spot once Wong returns is unknown at this point, but what’s for certain is that Yelich seems to be trending in the right direction for the Brewers.
Brewers’ Yelich in search of a new version of greatness. Story: https://t.co/mf9L2gHF9u— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 17, 2022
Brewers Drop Their City Connect Uniforms
- Sticking with Milwaukee for a moment, check out the release video for their new Nike City Connect uniforms that will debut soon, as well as the full uniform:
- I was a huge fan of the Angels “surfs up” themed City Connect uniforms that dropped recently, which was a change of pace for me since I think most of these uniforms have stunk, and I’m equally impressed with these “Brew Crew” uniforms for the Brewers. The jersey is cool and unique to their brand, and the BBQ/baseball patch on the sleeve is fantastic. These would be perfect if the BBQ/baseball patch replaced the underwhelming “MKE” logo on the caps.
Odds and Ends …
- Bad news for the Cardinals:
C Yadier Molina (right knee inflammation) has been placed on the 10-day IL, retroactive to June 16.— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) June 17, 2022
C Iván Herrera has been recalled from Memphis (AAA). pic.twitter.com/Oa3RKTaT3y
- Yu Darvish’s son Shoei (corrected spelling from the tweet, per Darvish in the mentions) threw a bullpen at Wrigley Field on Thursday with his dad looking on:
- The Web Gem of the night!
- Not having Manny Machado on here right now seems like a crime:
Power moves only. pic.twitter.com/B8QOP7JWQo— MLB (@MLB) June 17, 2022
- MLB will finally be enforcing the 13-pitcher cap on the 26-man rosters starting Monday according to Ken Rosenthal:
MLB sent memo to GMs, asst. GMs and managers yesterday saying that as of Monday, the limitation on the number of pitchers on an active roster will be 13. Rule originally intended to begin in ‘20 finally will take effect. Earlier this season, MLB twice extended 14-pitcher limit.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 17, 2022
- Plenty of good baseball on the slate for this Father’s Day Weekend!
We've got your weekend schedule: pic.twitter.com/QtrganQ25H— MLB (@MLB) June 17, 2022