Sidney Ponson is, once again, looking for work

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Yesterday the Royals designated Sidney Ponson for assignment after he went 1-7 with a 7.36 ERA in 58.2 innings.
What’s amazing about Ponson is that he’s pitched for seven different teams during the past seven seasons, including two stints with both the Orioles and Yankees, yet hasn’t had an ERA below 5.00 since way back in 2003, when he went 17-12 with a 3.75 ERA in 216 innings as a 26-year-old. Since then he’s 33-48 with a 5.82 ERA in 663 innings, including yearly ERAs of 5.30, 6.21, 6.25, 6.93, 5.04, and now 7.36.
Along with the horrible pitching he also comes along with plenty of baggage, yet every year he latches on with another team or two before they come to their senses and cut him loose. At this point there’s no possible reason for a major-league team to give Ponson a roster spot, let alone a place in the rotation, but then again that’s been true for years now and he keeps getting paid handsomely to basically throw batting practice for a few months while dozens of far more capable pitchers rot in the minors.
Seriously, throw a dart at a Triple-A roster and more likely than not you’ll hit someone who can out-pitch Ponson. Does he have a collection of photographs depicting every single big-league general manager in some sort of compromising position and just randomly pulls a picture out whenever he needs a new gig? Every year some major-league team that spends millions of dollars employing experts on evaluating baseball talent signs Ponson and lets him lose a bunch of games while posting a 6.00 ERA.
One of the oft-repeated criticisms when it comes to stats-based analysis is that scouts, managers, and “baseball men” have an eye for talent that simply goes beyond numbers. While certainly true in many instances, Ponson is a prime example of why that isn’t always a positive thing. Based strictly on stats Ponson should have been out of baseball four years and six teams ago, and for all the bad moves made by all the misguided teams his continued presence in the big leagues is the most mind-boggling to me.sidneyponson.jpg

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.