We’ve reached the point of the spring where all the camp stories are pretty played out and everyone is just waiting for the season to start. Unless, of course, you are Craig Kimbrel or Dallas Keuchel. I’d bet each wishes he had a time machine. I’m sure Keuchel would love to go back to the day that he turned down an extension offer of $90 million from the Astros. As for Kimbrel, he’d probably like to go back the the day he declared he was a $100 million closer.
So they sit on the sidelines hoping spring training will slow down a little while the rest of us hope it will speed up. And stop trying to connect Kimbrel to the Cubs. Even if they had the money or the wherewithal to sign him, I don’t think the compensatory draft pick tied to the once-elite closer makes it worth the investment. Facts being facts, Kimbrel is probably worth far more on a one-year deal after the June draft when that loss of draft pick disappears and his salary is pro-rated.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) March 13, 2019
MLB changed a number of its rules yesterday, in case you haven’t heard the news just yet. To summarize:
- Implementing a single trade deadline of July 31. No waiver deals after that. You can laugh if you’re a younger fan, but at one time the MLB trade deadline was June 15. That changed after the 1986 season.
- There is going to be an election day for the All-Star Game. That means the top three vote-getters will select the rest of their squads in a player draft.
- To help attract the game’s biggest stars, there will be $2.5 million in total bonus money for the Home Run Derby, with $1 million of that going to the winner. I wonder who will be in charge of making sure there is no impropriety. I don’t want to embed the video, but here’s the final round in last year’s event, pitting Kyle Schwarber against Bryce Harper.
- A three-batter minimum for pitchers, which will essentially end the careers for many LOOGYs, set for 2020.
- Roster expansion to 26 players, which also will not take place until next season.
- The most important part of the agreement is the provision that MLB and the MLBPA will begin discussing labor issues immediately, far earlier than expected. The current CBA doesn’t expire until December 2021.
There was nothing regarding a pitch clock, nor was there any mention of a universal DH, which is really the only rule they should have changed. Maybe next year.
Cubs News & Notes
- Though Rob Manfred waived on the universal DH, the Cubs still have plenty of flexibility built into their roster.
- Brad Brach is struggling juts a bit. The reliever’s velocity topped out in the upper 80’s during his two Cactus League appearances heading into yesterday.
- Pedro Strop “tweaked” his hamstring and will miss at least a week. He says he will be ready for the start of the season. The Cubs will likely employ a closer-by-committee strategy to start the season.
- Due to injuries and some subpar performances so far, the team’s bullpen is not the strength the front office had hoped it might be. Kimbrel is still available. Oh wait, I already said he will not be signing with the Cubs.
- Despite being sidelined by an injury and working strictly in the minor league camp, Luke Hagerty believes he can be a contributor to a major league bullpen this year.
- Will the Cubs be able to keep this winter’s many off-field issues from being a distraction as the team fights to retake the Central?
- The veteran starters and old geezers that make up the Cubs pitching staff could be very special this year.
- A resurgent Willson Contreras could be the key to the Cubs rebound efforts this year.
- Kris Bryant got some shift off his chest after facing a four-man outfield. That tactic has been employed against Harper this spring. Maybe baseball should eliminate the shift before the game goes to the tiring strategy of small ball and winning ugly. For what it’s worth, I am enjoying Bryant’s increasing dialogue about the state of the game. He seems to be a guy that commands an audience.
- The Cubs lost to the A’s 12-11 yesterday in a game that neither team seemed to really want to win.
- Anthony Rizzo has a boom stick:
Anthony Rizzo hit a baseball very far today. pic.twitter.com/kgBrqOYCKh
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) March 13, 2019
Spring Training News & Notes
Sports Illustrated takes a look at some of baseball’s more significant and historic rules changes.
Add the Yankees to the growing number of teams who may employ an “opener” strategy rather than sign a mediocre starter to replace an injured pitcher.
Reggie Jackson believes Harper is baseball’s savior. Not sure a $10 billion industry needs a savior, but okay. The $330 million outfielder proved Jackson right by going 0-for-2 against the Yankees yesterday.
Nathan Eovaldi said the Astros had absolutely no interest in signing him as a free agent this winter.
Ever wonder what the Red Sox saw in David “Big Papi” Ortiz before they signed him in 1997? Based on the team’s scouting report, it’s no wonder the Twins cut him.
Twins starter Jose Berrios said he turned down an extension offer so that he could wait on “a big payday.” That’s a bold strategy these days.
The Cardinals offense has stagnated recently.
If you are interested in Fantasy baseball, the CBS game analyzer played through 10,000 full-season scenarios to give you this year’s sleepers.
As player union reps begin discussions with owners to work on a new agreement ahead of the 2021 season, players should be fully aware that the baseball wants to end the era of mind-blowing financial deals with its players. Since the start of free agency, baseball has awarded players more for seniority and past performance than they have for future potential.
Players are less-than-generously paid as they work their way up through the ranks, those young guys have been the game’s best players in recent years. That’s how you build a $10 billion industry. If the MLBPA goes into negotiations with the intent to protect its aging veterans, they’ve already lost the war.
Thursday Walk Up Song
Fisherman’s Blues by The Water Boys. That’s some kicking and screaming slide guitar there.