There wasn’t any really big news this week in baseball, which worries me a great deal.
I’m still trying to re-gain the hang of these things. I almost wrote a review of the 1962 no-budget cult-classic horror film Carnival of Souls to fill up space, but I had way too much to do around the house. Maybe next time. You can all go watch it before then and we can have a discussion. Or not. I will say the reason it works so well isn’t the plot, dialogue or acting (all of which are less-than-stellar), but rather the filmmakers realized three things and leaned into them: Black-and-white film is creepy, organ music is creepy, and abandoned amusement parks are creepy. You might also say Kansas and Utah were also creepy, at least in 1962, but that’s more subjective.
- Let’s start out with a modest proposal that will get you arguing from Jayson Stark, always one of the most inventive minds in sportswriting. No, he’s not proposing eating players. Stark actually proposes a new DH rule where a team would only have the DH until they removed their starting pitcher. (The Athletic sub. req.) After that, relievers would bat for themselves or be pinch-hit for. Stark talks to several people in the game and some love the idea, some are intrigued and one unnamed American League executive said it was the worst idea he’d ever heard.
- Today is international signing day and Jesse Sanchez has a preview of what to expect. I can tell you the big name the Cubs are going to sign is shortstop Cristian Hernandez, and you can read about him here.
- Bob Nightengale reports that MLB is still planning to have fans at Spring Training games, which seems unlikely unless they delay Spring Training, which they also don’t want to do.
- Tom Verducci argues that young pitchers are not prepared to pitch in a full 162-game season after the short MLB and non-existent Minor League 2020 season. Of course, Verducci is the primary proponent of what other people have called “The Verducci Effect” which says that young pitchers who greatly increase their workload from the previous season are more likely to be injured. (Verducci prefers to call it the “Year-After Effect.”) As far as I know, no one has ever found any statistical evidence for this “Verducci Effect,” but then again, we’ve never had a season like 2020 before so maybe he’s on to something here.
- Former two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber is a free agent and he threw for teams looking for a contract after two injury-filled seasons. Mike Axisa looks at Kluber’s comeback and lists the ten teams most likely to sign him.
- The Phillies have inked reliever Archie Bradley to a one-year, $6 million deal.
- The Giants signed left-hander Alex Wood to a one-year, $3 million deal with another $3 million in incentives.
- Former Cub (sorry) José Martinez has signed a one-year split-deal contract with the Mets.
- The Athletics have acquired lefty reliever Nik Turley from the Pirates for that most-traded of all players, cash considerations. The Pirates had designated Turley for assignment earlier this week.
- Free agent catcher Yadier Molina says he will retire if he doesn’t get an offer he likes this offseason. Of course, he doesn’t say what he likes in contracts.
- There was no minor league season last year, in case you hadn’t heard. Danny Vietti speaks with several minor league ballplayers about how their 2020 went and what they had to do to get through the year.
- All 120 minor league teams still in organized ball finally got their Professional Development Licenses to sign. (Baseball America sub. req.) These are the contracts between the major league team and their affiliates. They’re not allowed to reveal what is in them, but all 120 teams are expected to sign them. Also, one thing that’s apparently new is that minor league teams will now play six-game series in order to cut down on travel expenses.
- Two teams that didn’t make the cut into organized ball, the Clinton LumberKings and the Burlington Bees, will both join the wooden-bat Prospect League
- Remember I wrote here on Monday that Angels broadcaster Victor Rojas left his job to move back to Texas? Now we know why: He’s the new general manager of the Double-A Frisco Roughriders. Rojas explains to Maria Torres why he made the career switch.
- Brendan Gawlowski argues the Mariners are both promoting and manipulating top prospect Julio Rodriguez.
- Kiley McDaniel tries to figure out what a reasonable contract extension for young Padres superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. would look like (ESPN+ sub. only.)
- Brittany Ghiroli and Eno Sarris examine the problem of pine tar in baseball—how it is both illegal and unofficially tolerated—and how there is no simple answer for resolving this dilemma. (The Athletic sub. req.)
- ESPN.com’s baseball writers have a roundtable on what the state of the Astros are one year after their cheating scandal.
- Here’s each team’s greatest one-day hitting performance ever.
- A 1952 Mickey Mantle card just sold for a record $5.2 million.
- Bryan Hoch explains how Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York became the theme song for the Yankees.
- I saw my first baseball game at the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, MN, which you probably know is now the location of the Mall of America. Do-Hyoung Park tells the story of the famous “Killebrew Seat” at the Mall of America.
- On June 1, 1986, Reds pitcher (and current Reds broadcaster) Chris Welsh set what we believe to be a record when he threw over to first base 17 times in one at-bat as he tried to keep Cardinals outfielder Vince Coleman from stealing second. Matt Monagan speaks with Welsh, Coleman and Willie McGee, who was at bat during those 17 pickoff attempts.
- And finally, Roger Cormier has a tribute to the late Dutch Rennert, whom Cormier calls “the last fun umpire.” If you’ve seen The Naked Gun, Leslie Neilsen is mostly parodying Rennert in the baseball scene in that movie.
“I know you’ve got a lot of good things happening up ahead/the past is gone it’s all been said/here’s to what the future brings/I know tomorrow you’ll find better things.” —Ray Davies.