There's nothing better than pitchers batting

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I tend not to enjoy arguments about religion, but once in a while you have to go there:

It’s a real shame that so many American League pitchers have been
denied a chance to hit. As much as A’s fans enjoyed the pure athletic
ability of Vida Blue, Mike Norris, Rick Langford and Dave Stewart over
the years, they could have seen so much more. Given a reason to work on
their hitting, they all would have responded professionally. Or maybe
not, in a case or two. You learn something there, too.

“But it’s an age of specialization,” people say. On what basis?
There are no designated runners or fielders. Specialization is an NFL
team employing different defensive units on four consecutive plays.
Specialization was forced upon the American League when the DH arrived
in 1973, but it never was warranted. Without question, we’ve witnessed
golden DH moments from the likes of Tony Oliva, Orlando Cepeda, Harold
Baines, Edgar Martinez, David Ortiz, but I invariably ask myself, why?
In what brand of league does a player not bat for himself? Have we
become a generation of elitist pipe-smokers, outraged at the sight of
an athlete’s vulnerability? “Fetch me my Thoreau, Jeeves. Barry Zito is
batting.”

The “different set of rules” argument gets tiresome, as well. Thank
goodness the National League has a traditional set of rules, and the
disparity doesn’t harm the game in the slightest. It’s still the same
game. Different rules would be three balls for a walk, or you start out
by running to third.

I’ll come out and admit that I’m a National League guy and I hate the
DH. Like Bruce Jenkins in this article, however, my dislike of the DH
is not necessarily about being a traditionalist, the beauty of the
double switch or the strategy or any of that. As history has shown,
most managers overthink that crap anyway and all of that switching
tends to bring the game to a grinding halt.

No, I’ll just come out and admit it: I like to see pitchers hit. I
know that’s usually the first attack against the NL setup — Pitchers
are feeble! It’s horrid to watch them flail! — but to me it truly is
an aesthetic plus. Seeing an overmatched pitcher trying to hit is the
closest thing we can get to seeing what it’s like for schmos like us to
hit. True, most of the time they fail, but when they succeed, I am
thrilled for them and feel strangely vindicated. And even if they do
fail, it just makes you appreciate how good even the eighth best batter
in a given lineup truly is.

If I had to guess, I’d say that the AL is more popular than the NL,
and that because of it there are more DH fans than not. And I’ll even
grant that my rationale for getting rid of the DH — pitchers batting
is beautiful, baby — is pretty far out there. But like I said in the
beginning, this is really a religious argument.

And like all other religious arguments, understand: once you realize
how irrational and wrong you are, and how right I am, the quicker we’ll
have peace.

(link via BTF)

CC Sabathia: getting in shape and ready for baseball

sabathia getty
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CC Sabatha made headlines in October when he abruptly left the Yankees to go into alcohol rehab. After a month there he came back and gave interviews about his decision and his battle with the bottle and then disappeared into the offseason the way most players do.

He emerged the other day and spoke with the New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand and says that he’s ready for baseball once again. Indeed, in some ways he’s more ready now than he usually is by mid February. He’s been throwing bullpen sessions for the past three weeks — he normally waits until he gets to Tamps — and he says his troublesome knee is feeling good.

 

Sabathia will turn 36 during the season. In 2015 he was 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 29 starts and posted his lowest strikeout rate in a decade. Late in the season, however, with the help of a knee brace, he was at his most effective in some time. He won’t need to return to 2008 form in order to help the Yankees this season, but he will need to look more like he did in September if he is to help the Yankees to the playoffs.

Jacob deGrom open to extension with Mets

New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom talks during media day for the Major League Baseball World Series against the Kansas City Royals Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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The Mets are currently enjoying the spoils of the best young rotation in the game, but the big question is whether this is just a brief window or the start of sustained success. Given the huge prices on the free agent market, it’s going to be next to impossible to keep the band together, but at least one member of the rotation is open to sticking around for the long-term.

While there haven’t been any talks yet, All-Star right-hander Jacob deGrom told Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that he could see himself discussing an extension with the Mets.

“I’m a little bit older, so I might be more willing to do something like that,’’ deGrom told The Post at Mets pre-camp. “You just have to look at what is fair so both sides get a decent deal. It’s something I’d have to look into and make sure I agree with it.’’

It makes sense from deGrom’s perspective. He broke into the majors later than most prospects, so he’ll be 28 this June. Depending on whether he qualifies as a Super Two, he’ll be arbitration-eligible for the first time after either 2016 or 2017. Either way, he’s under team control through 2020, which means that he’s currently on track to hit free agency after his age-32 season. The market might not be kind to him even if he manages to stay healthy, so it could behoove him to get as much guaranteed money as possible right now. The Mets could always decide to play things year-to-year, but perhaps deGrom would be willing to settle for a discount in order to get them to buy out a free agent year or two. It’s a really interesting situation to think about, but odds are the two sides will wait on contract talks until he’s arbitration-eligible for the first time.

DeGrom owns a 2.61 ERA in 52 starts over his first two seasons in the majors. Among starters, only Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta, and Clayton Kershaw have a lower ERA since the start of 2014.

Royals, Mike Moustakas avoid arbitration with two-year deal

Kansas City Royals' Mike Moustakas celebrates after hitting an RBI single against the Toronto Blue Jays during the eighth inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Seriesagainst the Toronto Blue Jays  on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP
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The Royals and third baseman Mike Moustakas have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $14.3 million deal, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

The deal, which was initially discussed last month, buys out Moustakas’ final two years of arbitration. Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports that it’s believed he’ll make $5.6 million in 2016 and $8.7 million in 2017.

The 27-year-old Moustakas posted an underwhelming .668 OPS over his first four seasons in the majors, but he enjoyed a big postseason in 2014 before breaking out last season by batting .284/.348/.470 with 22 home runs and 82 RBI.

Report: Rays having “advanced talks” with free agent reliever Tommy Hunter

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Tommy Hunter throws to the Miami Marlins during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Miami, Friday, May 22, 2015. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
AP Photo/J Pat Carter
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.

Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.