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.

Report: Dexter Fowler will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after lining out during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.

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Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.

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Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.

Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.

Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.

Braves acquire Luke Jackson from the Rangers

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 16:  Relief pitcher Luke Jackson #53 of the Texas Rangers  throws during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros at Globe Life Park on September 16, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. Texas won 14-3. (Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images)
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Tommy Stokke of RanRag Sports reports that the Braves and Rangers agreed to a trade. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Braves will receive pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.

Jackson, 25, is under team control through 2022. He has logged only 18 innings in the majors, yielding 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks with three strikeouts. While Jackson has struggled with control, the Braves likely see upside because his fastball sits in the mid- to high-90’s.

Jenkins, 24, is also under team control through 2022. The right-hander made eight starts and six relief appearances in his first major league season in 2016, putting up a 5.88 ERA with a 26/33 K/BB ratio over 52 innings.

Feigl, 25, was an undrafted free agent and was signed by the Braves in 2013. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and briefly rehabbed in rookie ball this past season.