Omar Vizquel: the all time Venezuelan hits leader

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In last night’s Rangers-Astros game, Pudge Rodriguez broke the all-time
record for games caught. But that wasn’t the only notable achievement: Omar Vizquel tied Luis Aparicio for most hits by a native of Venezuela.

While most would agree that Pudge’s record was a tougher nut to crack,
being the Venezuelan hits leader is not nearly as narrow a feat as some
may suspect. Indeed, Vizquel has outhit a pretty impressive group of
people in outhitting his fellow countrymen. In addition to Aparicio,
Vizquel has Andres Galarraga (2333 hits), Dave Concepcion (2326), Bobby
Abreu (2011), Magglio Ordonez (1889), Ozzie Guillen (1764) and Tony
Armas (1302) in his rear-view mirror, among others.

There’s a debate out there about whether Vizquel is a legitimate
Hall of Fame candidate, and I suspect that he’ll get a lot more support
from writers than he otherwise might have due to the perception that he
was a little guy who made it in a steroid-fueled world. And that will
hold true regardless of there likely being no way of knowing if he ever
took steroids in his long career. Personally, I don’t think he’s a Hall
of Famer, and I’ll no doubt argue that he doesn’t belong at some point.

But when I and others do, don’t you dare mistake such arguments as disparagement of Omar Vizquel. He’s been really really good for a really really long time, and this record is just further evidence of that.

Max Scherzer still can’t throw fastballs

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals works against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.

The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.

Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.

The Dodgers asked the Tigers about Justin Verlander this offseason

DETROIT, MI - MAY 18: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches during the first inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on May 18, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.

It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.

Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.

The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.

So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.