Joe vs. Ichiro: The plot thickens

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A couple weeks ago, with Joe Mauer set to debut atop the AL leaderboard
with a .389 batting average and Ichiro Suzuki hitting .360, I wrote that “it would be great to watch those two duke it out down the stretch to see who can capture their third batting title.”

Since then Mauer has slumped and Ichiro has kept chugging along, and yesterday they flip-flopped spots in the batting title race.
Ichiro leads the league at .363 with Mauer second at .358, and Jason
Bartlett is right there with them at .345 now that he has enough plate
appearances to qualify.

There are three lesssons to be learned here. One, be careful what you wish for. Two, maintaining a .390 batting average is really hard. And three, Ichiro is really good.

Cubs sign Drew Smyly to a two-year, $10 million contract

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday evening that the club signed pitcher Drew Smyly to a two-year contract. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports the contract is for $10 million total and allows Smyly to earn another $7 million with performance bonuses. Smyly was non-tendered by the Mariners at the beginning of the month and became a free agent.

Smyly, 28, underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in late June. He’s expected to miss, at minimum, the first half of the 2018 season. The Cubs are hoping he can contribute to a playoff push in the latter half of the season as well as in 2019.

Smyly didn’t pitch at all in 2017. When he was healthy the season prior, he made 30 starts for the Rays and put up a 4.88 ERA and a 167/49 K/BB ratio in 175 1/3 innings.