Link-O-Rama: About Schmidt

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* Nick Steiner of The Hardball Times broke down Jason Schmidt’s return to the mound last night and concluded
that “he looks close to done as a major-league pitcher” because the
combination of a straight 87-mph fastball and low-80s changeup “won’t
fool very many hitters.” Agreed.

* Matt Bush has been sentenced
to 120 days in residential rehab, 240 hours of community service, three
years of probation, and $2,000 in fines following the former No. 1
overall pick’s latest alcohol-fueled incident. Bush, who revealed that
he’s been sober for three weeks, called his behavior “a disgrace” and
explained: “When I drink alcohol, I become another person I do not
like.”

* Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote yesterday
that the Indians “love the OPS, which is on-base percentage plus
slugging percentage. They believe it gives a true picture of an hitter
because it combines reaching base with power.” After reading that, I
had to check the date to make sure it was in fact still 2009.

Pluto is an award-winning columnist, but anyone who thinks that the
Indians’ front office relies upon OPS for anything meaningful is
woefully out of touch with the current state of baseball analysis.
Cleveland and most other teams moved past OPS about a decade ago and
even schmoes like me are beyond OPS. On the other hand, Dayton Moore and the Royals figure to discover the value of OPS within the next five seasons.

* Yunel Escobar announced yesterday that he’ll be making an effort to be more media friendly, but the language barrier remains a big stumbling block.

Yordano Ventura’s remaining contract hinges on the results of his toxicology report

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.

What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.

The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.

Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.

Spring training will be slightly shortened in 2018

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 15:  General view of action between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants during the spring training game at Scottsdale Stadium on March 15, 2014 in Scottsdale, Arizona. The A's defeated the Giants 8-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Associated Press is reporting that the spring training schedule will be shortened by two days starting in 2018. That change comes as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, which was agreed to last month.

Specifically, the voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers, and injured players has been changed to 43 days before the start of the regular season, down from 45. For the rest of the players, the reporting date is 38 days before the start of the regular season, down from 40.

The change goes hand-in-hand with allowing teams 187 days, rather than 183, to complete their 162-game regular season schedule.

While just about everyone seems to be in agreement that the spring training exhibition schedule is too long, team owners are likely very hesitant to shorten that part of the spring schedule because it would cost them money. So they’re just allowing players to arrive to camp a couple of days later.