It’s been pretty quiet in the baseball world since last we met. I hope you all had a good holiday and that Yu Darvish was under the Cubs tree and they just didn’t tell anyone yet.
- Since it’s been a slow news day, read this story by Ken Rosenthal about Astros coach Rich Dauer and the medical emergency that almost cost him his life during the World Series parade. It’s a taut medical thriller that would be good if it were fiction, but it’s real life and death instead. (I don’t want to spoil anything, but he lives. You probably would have heard by now if he had died.)
- Shohei Ohtani said goodbye to the fans in Japan and the Nippon Ham Fighters in a press conference at the stadium.
- As one Japanese star arrives, is another Japanese legend finished? Ichiro Suzuki still wants to play next season and Evan Davis has some guesses as to which teams might be interested in him.
- Miami businessman Jorge Mas, who reportedly finished second to the Bruce Sherman/Derek Jeter group in buying the Marlins, said that he would have at least kept payroll the same in 2018 and possibly increased it. Yes, it’s easier to say that now that he doesn’t own the team, but little could be worse than what the current Marlins ownership group is doing.
- Tommy Stokke writes that as the Cubs and Cardinals improve, the pressure is building on the Brewers to stay competitive.
- David Schoenfield argues that the “evil empire” is back and that it’s fun to hate the Yankees again.
- The Twins signed left-handed reliever Zach Duke to a two-year deal.
- The Reds also signed right-hander Jared Hughes to a two-year deal with a club option on a third year.
- The Giants and Reds are still discussing a deal that would send Billy Hamilton to San Francisco.
- David Schoenfield looks at what the seven teams best teams after the best seven teams need to do to break into the elite team club.
- Mike Axisa ranks all 30 MLB teams by their likelihood to sign free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer.
- Will Leitch looks back at some of the breakout players of 2017. His list will make you Happ-y.
- I’m surprised Mariners pitcher James Paxton wasn’t on Leitch’s list, although maybe that’s because Paxton was pretty decent in 2016, too. But Statcast data shows that no pitcher in baseball was better at limiting hard contact than Paxton in 2017.
- Jim Callis looks at the five most improved farm systems in 2017. The Cubs did not make this list.
- Manny Randhawa has the 100 best plays on 2017.
- Mark Melancon and Kris Bryant struck back at some fans who criticized them on social media. Really? Someone thought that Bryant needed to bulk up? As Mike Oz writes in this piece, he must have been a Cardinals fan.
- Someone bought their dad an autographed Chipper Jones ball for Christmas and there were a lot of tears. Some of those came from Chipper Jones himself.
- And finally, the Diamondbacks took first baseman Pavin Smith with the seventh pick in the draft last June, so he spent some of that bonus money paying off his parents mortgage for Christmas, along with a heartfelt note of thanks. Again, there were tears.
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster.