Daily Dose: Webb may be done for 2009

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Brandon Webb has undergone two MRI exams since canceling a bullpen
session last Friday after a setback with his injured shoulder and
manager A.J. Hinch said Tuesday that “it’s hard to say” if Arizona’s
ace will pitch again this season. “The priorities have shifted to
making sure we know everything about his health, about what’s causing
his pain,” Hinch said. “Pitching in 2009 is a distant second.”

Webb hasn’t pitched since a rough Opening Day outing and has
struggled dating back to last August, which has the Diamondbacks very
concerned given that he’s made no progress in three months on the
sidelines with what was initially termed a muscle injury. There’s now
speculation that he’ll need surgery to repair tears in his tendon or
ligament, but there’s no real use guessing without the MRI results.

While the Diamondbacks’ season keeps going from bad to worse, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Joey Votto came off the disabled list Tuesday and revealed that
his month-long absence was due to depression following the death of his
father last year. “There were nights that I couldn’t be alone,” Votto
said. “The very first night I was alone was when I went to the
hospital. I couldn’t take it. It just got to the point where I felt I
was going to die, really.”

Votto described how panic attacks led him to seek medical help and
caused him to be removed from several games, which makes his batting
.357/.464/.627 in 38 games all the more amazing. Obviously the Reds and
Votto’s fantasy owners will be keeping close tabs on him going forward,
and he hopped back into the lineup Tuesday night by going 1-for-4 with
two strikeouts while batting third.

* Plans for Kelvim Escobar to replace Scot Shields in the Angels’
bullpen took a hit Monday when he had a “pinching sensation” in his
injured right shoulder while playing catch. He met Tuesday with Dr.
Lewis Yocum and said afterward: “I think I need to slow down. I
expected to feel a lot better, but sometimes it takes time.” Escobar’s
uncertain status may lead to the Angels pursuing relief help via trade.

* San Diego activated Scott Hairston from the disabled list Tuesday
and cleared room for him by placing Brian Giles on the shelf with a
knee injury. Whether knee issues are to blame for Giles’ abysmal
.191/.277/.271 line is unclear, but sending him to the DL is the
easiest way to clear the Padres’ outfield logjam that includes
Hairston, Tony Gwynn Jr., Chase Headley, and recent call-up Kyle
Blanks.

AL Quick Hits: Roy Halladay (groin) tossed a bullpen session
Tuesday and is on track to rejoin the rotation next week … Magglio
Ordonez was back in the lineup Tuesday after a brief benching …
Chien-Ming Wang pitched fairly well Tuesday while giving up three runs
in five innings, but still fell to 0-6 … Alex Gordon (hip) is expected
to begin a rehab stint next week … Josh Outman (elbow) is slated to
undergo an MRI exam Wednesday and won’t be able to throw for at least a
few days … Asdrubal Cabrera (shoulder) reportedly could come off the
disabled list as soon as Thursday … Ryan Raburn blasted a walk-off
homer as a pinch-hitter Tuesday as Kevin Gregg blew his third save …
Jason Kubel remained out of the lineup Tuesday with flu-like symptoms …
Scott Kazmir (quad) said Tuesday that he’s ready to rejoin the rotation
after one rehab start and hours later David Price was rocked for 10
runs in a World Series rematch against the Phillies.

NL Quick Hits: Joel Pineiro tossed a complete-game shutout
Tuesday, giving up just two hits to the Mets … Ryan Howard (flu)
started at designated hitter and hit an RBI double Tuesday … Jonathan
Broxton picked up a one-out save Tuesday when Hiroki Kuroda couldn’t
quite finish the game … Derrek Lee went 2-for-3 with a double Tuesday,
extending his hitting streak to 20 games … Dave Bush is expected to
miss 2-3 weeks with a small tear in his biceps … Aramis Ramirez
(shoulder) is scheduled to take batting practice Friday … Miguel
Montero will be Arizona’s main catcher with Chris Snyder (back) put on
the disabled list Tuesday and Chris Young (groin) may soon be joining
him … Tommy Hanson struggled with his control Tuesday, but improved to
3-0 by shutting out the Yankees for 5.1 innings … Raul Ibanez (groin)
took batting practice Tuesday and hopes to come off the DL when
eligible next week.

The Marlins have made a “monster offer” for Kenley Jansen

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch against the Chicago Cubs in the eighth inning of game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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OXON HILL, MD — The morning after Aroldis Chapman signed for a record $86 million, the Miami Marlins are reported to have made similarly lucrative offer to the other top free agent closer, Kenley Jansen.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo says that the Marlins have made “a monster offer” of five years and more than $80 million to Jansen. This despite the fact that the club is coming off of a 79-win season and, tragically, lost their top pitcher Jose Fernandez in a fatal boating accident, which will substantially harm their competitive prospects. While it seems like a stretch to say that the Yankees will compete for a playoff spot, thereby making such an historically large investment in a closer a bit suspect, the Marlins doing so is even more questionable.

Meanwhile, the Nationals are said to be interested in Jansen as well, though Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post says the Nats are “uncomfortable” with the financial commitment signing him would require.

Jansen most recently pitched for the Dodgers and there have been no reports that they’re totally out on him, but there has been nothing to suggest that they are pushing hard for him either.

Jansen, 29, finished this past season with 47 saves, a 1.83 ERA, and a 104/11 K/BB ratio in 68.2 innings. That’s not quite Aroldis Chapman good, but he seems poised to collect something close to Aroldis Chapman money.

The Yankees are paying $86 million for a one-inning reliever

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OXON HILL, MD — The Yankees signing of Aroldis Chapman late Wednesday night came as something of a surprise. And the money — $86 million — was something of a shock. Yes, we knew that Chapman was going to break the bank and likely set a record as the highest paid relief pitcher in history, but seeing it in black and white like that is still rather jarring.

In the coming days, many people who attempt to analyze and contextualize this signing will do so by pointing to the 2016 playoffs and the unconventional use of relievers by Terry Francona and the Indians and Joe Maddon of the Cubs. They’ll talk about how the paradigm of bullpen use has shifted and how relief pitchers have taken on a new importance in today’s game. Chapman’s astronomical salary, therefore, will be described as somehow more reasonable and somewhat less shocking than it first seems.

Don’t buy that jive for a second.

Yes, Andrew Miller and, to some extent, Chapman himself were used unconventionally in the 2016 playoffs, but not long into the 2017 season we will see that as an exception, not the rule. And not just because Chapman showed himself unable to hold up to that level of use in the playoffs. It will be the exception because the Yankees have shown no inclination whatsoever to deviate from traditional bullpen usage in the past and there is no reason to expect that they will do so with Chapman in the future.

As you no doubt remember, the Yankees had Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller for the first half of 2016. Such an imposing back end of a bullpen has rarely been seen in recent history. All of them, however, were used, more or less, as one-inning-a-piece guys and no real effort was ever made to break any bullpen usage paradigms or to shorten games the way many applauded Terry Francona for doing in the playoffs.

Miller pitched 44 games for the Yankees, totaling 45.1 innings. He pitched more than a single inning on only three occasions. Chapman pitched 31 games for the Yankees, amassing 31.1 innings. He was used for more than one inning only twice. Betances worked in 73 games, totaling 73 innings. On 11 occasions he pitched more than one inning.  It was unconventional for a team to have three relievers that good, but they were not, in any way, used unconventionally. Nor is there any reason to expect Chapman to be used unconventionally in 2017, especially given that Miller is not around and Chapman has shown no real ability to be stretched for multiple innings for a sustained period.

None of which is to say that having Chapman around is a bad thing or that he is any less of a closer than his reputation suggests. It’s merely to say that the Yankees paying Chapman unprecedented money for a closer should not be justified by the alleged new importance of relief pitchers or that changing role for them we heard so much about in the playoffs. Indeed, I suspect that that changing role applies only to pitcher use in the playoffs. And I do not suspect that this transaction alone pushes the Yankees into serious playoff contention, making that temporary unconventionality something of a moot point in New York for the foreseeable future.

It is almost certain that the Yankees are paying $86 million for the same one-inning closer Aroldis Chapman has been for his entire seven-year career. His contract may or may not prove to be a good one for New York based on how he performs, but don’t let anyone tell you now, in Decemeber 2016, that it’s better than you think because Chapman will somehow transform into a 1970s-style relief ace or something.