Alex Rodriguez gets a TV show, the Tigers look for a center fielder, and the Rays add a former closer.
Tigers looking to fill center field hole
The Tigers were rumored to be a potential suitor for Gregor Blanco in the hours before he signed a minor league-deal with the Diamondbacks yesterday afternoon. But even with him now off the market, they’ve apparently still got a free agent outfielder to focus on—Peter Bourjos, who would presumably help fill the team’s void in center field. Though one of the Tigers’ first moves this winter was trading away center fielder Cameron Maybin, they haven’t done anything since to fill the space he left behind.
Have we been too quick to dismiss the value of batter vs. pitcher histories?
Because it’s Hall of Fame week, there have been plenty of Edgar Martinez partisans out there making the case for the former Mariners third baseman/designated hitter. Martinez’s case is dulled somewhat by the fact that he spent so much of his career designated to hit, and perhaps more damning that he didn’t reach 3,000 hits nor 500 home runs (nor 50 stolen bases) for his career.
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The Cardinals gear up for their first arbitration hearing in years, Craig Breslow schedules a pitching showcase, and Carl Crawford contemplates retirement (maybe).
Cardinals anticipate first arbitration hearing since 1999
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak is test-driving a new strategy with his arbitration-eligible players. According to his comments made at the annual Cardinals Care Winter Warm-Up event over the weekend, those who did not settle with the team prior to the Friday deadline will go to an arbitration hearing. It’s a relatively common tact that the front office has considered for a few years now, and Mozeliak claimed that the hard-nosed approach was intended to encourage players to work through salary negotiations by Friday’s deadline.
Does better plate discipline for hitters yield better results?
In this series, we’re investigating the outcomes when baseball players made what appear to have been New Year’s resolutions to do something differently in 2016. But unlike the rest of us, who try to waste less time watching TV or learn another language, we’re looking here at specific baseball outcomes. The first article considered batters who hit markedly more (or less) to the opposite field in 2016 than in 2015. The next two looked at batters who hit more or fewer balls on the ground and pitchers who induced more or fewer grounders.
And I’ll admit, framing these as New Year’s resolutions is a bit of a stretch. There probably aren’t a lot of baseball players who said last January 1 that what they really wanted to do in 2016 was to hit more balls in the air. Today, though, I’m going to tackle one that seems plausible: Better plate discipline.
Rain delays, mascot races, Rickie Weeks, civil wars, and dopes.
January is a particularly low month for baseball fans. Pitchers and catchers won’t stretch for a month. It’s the time of year when we mewl for some baseball, any baseball, heck bad baseball, just so long as it is recognizable as such. It is a privilege of distance to forget a thing’s flaws. After all, sometimes baseball is slow and plodding. Sometimes it features a bunch of pitching changes. Sometimes it features the Padres.
The average time of game in 2014 was three hours and eight minutes; it dropped to two hours and 56 minutes in 2015 with the league’s pace-of-play rules. Using the Play Index’s time-of-game data, we know that for the 2,428 games in 2016 (185 of which went to extra innings), the average time of game crept back up, not matching its 2014 levels, but generally slowing:
New York may keep Curtis Granderson, Baltimore is unlikely to keep Mark Trumbo, and Matt Wieters is looking for a deal.
Mets may hold onto Granderson
Earlier this week there were rumors that the Mets were trying to find a solution to their outfield situation, which is awfully crowded. One of the players mentioned in that piece who could’ve potentially been traded was Curtis Granderson. However, if Sandy Alderson’s comments to ESPN’s Adam Rubin are any indication, it appears as if the Mets are feeling a bit hesitant to trade Granderson away.
What happens when pitchers yield more or fewer grounders?
In this series, we’re investigating the outcomes when baseball players made what appear to have been New Year’s resolutions to do something differently. But unlike the rest of us, who try to be nicer to our siblings or drink less on weekends, we’re looking here at specific baseball outcomes.
In the first article I considered batters who hit markedly more (or less) to the opposite field in 2016 than in 2015. (Spoiler: It didn’t seem to help much.) In the second one I looked at batters who hit more or fewer balls on the ground. (Second spoiler: While in general batters who hit more in the air and less on the ground improved themselves, the evidence for the players who changed the most—who stuck to their resolutions—shows very limited offensive improvement.)
A weak position gets weaker, and a bleak outlook gets bleaker.
We, at Baseball Prospectus, have been talking about catchers for a while now (three days and change to be exact, depending on when you are reading this) and the party continues to rage on. Yet before we rage, we shall calibrate—since rankings aren’t useful without knowing what you’re reading. The list you are about to read here presupposes a 16-team standard (read: 5x5 roto) dynasty format, in which there are no contracts/salaries, players can be kept forever, and owners have minor-league farm systems in which to hoard prospects. So feel free to adjust this as necessary for your individual league, whether it’s moving non-elite prospects without 2016 ETAs down if you don’t have separate farm teams or moving lower-risk, lower-reward players up in deeper mixed or -only formats. And if this list doesn't go deep enough for you (god bless your soul), Wilson Karaman has you covered with his Ocean's Floor column as well. We leave no stone unturned here.
Ben talks to former major league pitcher (and newly hired Diamondbacks Pitching Strategist) Dan Haren about his new job, how players handle the media, his struggles and success against Hall of Fame-caliber hitters, his own hitting skills, PEDs, trades and free agency, baseball's salary structure, and more.