Do you know what would make baseball more interesting? Tiger traps in the outfield. An outfielder going after a fly ball would make one false step and the outfield grass opens up and he falls into a pit. Some pits would have soft foam in. Some wouldn’t, and the outfielder would likely end up on the disabled list after taking a hard tumble. And woe to the unlucky outfielder who fell into the pit that had a live tiger in it. The suspense would have audiences riveted. (And if you wanted to get literary about the whole thing, you can stick Kate Upton in selected pits.)
Somehow, I don’t think commissioner Manfred is going to take my calls on this one.
- Hall-of-Famer Tom Seaver announced yesterday that he’s retiring from making public appearances after being diagnosed with dementia. As someone who lost his father to dementia three years before he actually died, I can tell you it’s an awful experience. I hope for the best for Seaver and his family.
- Ted Berg gives us a reminder that while MLB teams all need extra catchers from the minor league camp for Spring Training, baseball players don’t actually get paid for Spring Training. For a major leaguer who made at least $550,000 the year before, this isn’t really an issue. For a minor leaguer who made less than the minimum wage the year before, this means trying to survive for six weeks on a $25 a day per diem.
- Michael Baumann notes that service time manipulation has gotten out of control and that MLB ought to be embarrassed, but they aren’t.
- Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright was suspended for 80 games after testing positive for a banned substance.
- The Astros have reportedly made a couple of one- and two-year contract offers to pitcher Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel is still holding out for a multi-year deal.
- Mike Petriello explains why Keuchel is one of the last of a dying breed—an old-fashioned pitching “workhorse” who can throw over 200 innings of roughly league-average ball each year.
- Former Oregon State pitcher Luke Heimlich, who remains unemployed because of a juvenile child molestation conviction, has reportedly signed with a Mexican League team. However, the league has yet to approve the signing and it looks unlikely that they will.
- Joel Sherman argues that the Dodgers should sign free agent reliever Craig Kimbrel. Yeah, they’ve already got the best reliever in the National League so why not get the best reliever in the American League? I get Sherman’s point about building a bullpen juggernaut, but I think the Dodgers have better ways to spend their money.
- Katherine Acquavella grades every team’s offseason. I’m surprised the Cubs got a “C.” I would have gone lower than that.
- Ken Rosenthal gives a blow-by-blow account of how the Rockies inked Nolan Arenado to a long-term extension. (The Athletic sub. req.)
- The Rangers have signed closer Jose Leclerc to a four-year extension and Dan Szymborski explains why they’d want to do such a thing.
- Marlins team president Derek Jeter said that fans should care less about winning and losing than about having a good experience at the ballpark. So the Marlins have now officially become a minor league team under Jeter. Because that’s what minor league teams say.
- There’s going to be a major change in the way that MLB lineups are announced this season as all teams will be required to submit their lineups to the commissioner’s office before making them public. Ostensibly, this is being done to protect the integrity of the game in the light of legalized gambling. However, it does appear that the bookmakers will get a look at the lineups before fans (and gamblers) will.
- MLB is also planning big changes to the way the All-Star voting is conducted. Basically, they’re making you vote in two separate elections if you want to see your favorite player in the starting lineup.
- Bob Nightengale likely doesn’t think much of my “tiger traps” idea, but he does have his own idea for adding excitement to the game. Nightengale wants MLB to adopt “split seasons” like they have in the minor leagues (or like they did in 1981).
- Gabe Lacques has a profile of some of the pitching “weirdos” that went from being mocked at the fringes of the game to being the wave of the future. One “weirdo” is new Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson, who used Trackman technology over a decade ago to turn Dallas Baptist into an NCAA powerhouse.
- Ben Lindbergh continues his deep dive through those 73,000 scouting reports he got his hands on and looks at some of the players whom the scouts completely whiffed on. Included is former Cubs catcher David Ross as someone they missed on. Again, this isn’t to say scouts are bad (even Ross agreed with some—although not all—of the criticisms that they had on him) but rather to point out how hard scouting is.
- Former Twins and Cubs outfielder Jacque Jones has been found liable in a “revenge porn” lawsuit. (h/t Yahoo! Sports) That’s a new one.
- There’s been a lot of talk about Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper (that still sounds funny) vowing to “recruit” Angels outfielder Mike Trout to come to Philadelphia and whether or not that tampering. R.J. Anderson argues that Harper’s actions should not only not be against the rules, but should be encouraged.
- Craig Edwards lists what MLB teams are paying the most money to players who don’t play for them anymore.
- Jay Jaffe takes a look at some MLB players in line for a downturn this upcoming year. (ESPN+ sub. req.)
- Andrew Simon notes that while Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson and Phillies infielder Scott Kingery had poor rookie seasons, they still have the potential to be good MLB players, possibly as early as this year.
- Dan Szymborski looks at the Yankees options for replacing Luis Severino if their ace ends up missing significant time.
- The Nationals made a controversial decision to ban backpacks from their stadium. But it’s OK because the Nationals are going to provide lockers that fans can rent for $2 to $3 an hour.
- If you’re sick of winter and missing baseball, here’s a terrific picture of a terrific sand castle of a baseball ballpark.
- Some teams (not the Cubs) make a few clever and humorous commercials at the start of each season to gin up some excitement for the team and presumably sell tickets. The Mariners are usually one of the best of them and they’ve released four new commercials for the 2019 season. I’d say the “crafty lefties” one is the best of them. I’d also bet that Yusei Kikuchi has no idea what’s going on in that commercial, but he does a good job anyway.
- And finally, the Marlins Double-A affiliate, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, are going to have a “Florida Man” night this upcoming season where they will stupidly break another Florida law each inning. Only in Florida.
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster.