Daily Dose: He's alive!

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Chris Young earned his demotion to Triple-A last month by hitting .194 in 103 games and went just 4-for-25 (.160) with 10 strikeouts during his first week back in Arizona, but that all changed Sunday. Young blasted three homers and drew a pair of walks in five plate appearances against the Rockies. Sure, his monster day came at Coors Field, but the rest of the Diamondbacks were just 3-for-30 with seven strikeouts.
Young had an opportunity to tie the major-league record with a fourth long ball in the ninth inning and with the Diamondbacks down eight runs there was every reason just to swing away, but instead he coaxed a two-out walk. Perhaps not surprising from a guy who’s averaged 55 walks per 150 games through the age of 25 and a reminder that despite his struggles and high strikeout rates he still has some plate discipline.
There’s no getting around the fact that he was brutally bad prior to the demotion and Young had been disappointing in general by batting just .232/.303/.428 through 448 career games, but for fantasy purposes it’s way too early to give up on the former top prospect. He just turned 26 years old Saturday and has averaged 22 homers and 18 steals per 150 games even while hitting .232 with a strikeout one-fourth of the time.
While the Diamondbacks stick with Young after handing him a five-year, $28 million contract just 17 months ago, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Wade Davis looked very good in his MLB debut Sunday, racking up nine strikeouts while holding the Tigers to one run in seven innings. He was denied a win when the bullpen blew a two-run lead, but Davis definitely pitched well enough to remain in the rotation. Last week in this space I recommended Davis as an AL-only pickup and I’m still not sure he’s a good mixed-league investment, but there are worse fliers to take.
* Drew Stubbs continued his uncharacteristic power display Sunday afternoon, going deep for the fifth time in 84 at-bats after homering a grand total of three times in 107 games at Triple-A prior to last month’s call-up to Cincinnati. Stubbs has the speed, plate discipline, and defense to be an asset long term, but hitting homers and making consistent contact ultimately are not going to be strengths.
AL Quick Hits: Luke Hochevar was battered for seven runs Sunday, making him 0-6 with an 8.12 ERA since back-to-back great starts in July … Derek Holland struggled again Sunday and has now allowed 22 runs in his last dozen innings … Ichiro Suzuki got his 2,000th hit in his 1,402nd career game Sunday, which is just a dozen games short of Al Simmons’ all-time record … Jake Peavy (elbow) threw a 60-pitch bullpen session Sunday and will throw again later this week … Brandon Inge’s grand slam in the ninth inning Sunday pushed the Tigers’ divisional lead to seven games … Sergio Mitre was rocked for 11 runs Sunday, with terrible defense playing a part … Jeremy Guthrie pulled his ERA under 5.00 for the first time since May with seven scoreless innings Sunday … Gio Gonzalez turned in seven innings of two-run ball Sunday after coming into the game with a 6.07 ERA … Carl Crawford went hitless Sunday for the fourth straight game … Jon Lester had seven shutout innings Sunday for his seventh straight Quality Start.
NL Quick Hits: Justin Upton was pulled from Sunday’s game after failing to hustle on a hit off the wall that he assumed was a homer … Prince Fielder leads baseball with 123 RBIs after delivering a walk-off homer in the 12th inning Sunday … Jerry Manuel said Sunday that Carlos Delgado’s (hip) chances of playing again this year are “very slim” … Tim Hudson allowed just one run and had six strikeouts versus one walk in seven innings Sunday … Miguel Tejada had hits in all four at-bats Sunday and drove in a run for the first time since August 19 … Mike Pelfrey evened his record at 10-10 with eight innings of one-run ball Sunday … Seth Smith went deep twice and drove in five runs Sunday … Johnny Cueto had nine strikeouts in six innings of one-run ball Sunday … Ryan Zimmerman’s walk-off homer Sunday snapped a nine-game losing streak and handed Leo Nunez his second blown save this month … Daniel Cabrera gave up five runs without recording an out in his Diamondbacks debut Sunday.

MLB Network airs segment listing “good” and “bad” $100 million-plus contracts

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On Wednesday evening, Charlie Marlow of KTVI FOX 2 News St. Louis posted a couple of screencaps from a segment MLB Network aired about $100 million-plus contracts that have been signed. The list of “bad” contracts, unsurprisingly, is lengthier than the list of “good” contracts.

As Mike Gianella of Baseball Prospectus pointed out, it is problematic for a network owned by Major League Baseball to air a segment criticizing its employees for making too much seemingly unearned money. There’s a very clear conflict of interest, so one is certainly not getting a fair view of the situation. MLB, of course, can do what it wants with its network, but it can also be criticized. MLB Network would never air a similar segment in which it listed baseball’s “good” and “bad” owners and how much money they’ve undeservedly taken. Nor would MLB Network ever run a segment naming the hundreds of players who are not yet eligible for arbitration whose salaries are decided for them by their teams, often making the major league minimum ($545,000) or just above it. Similarly, MLB Network would also never think of airing a segment in which the pay of minor league players, many of whom make under $10,000 annually, is highlighted.

We’re now past the halfway point in January and many free agents still remain unsigned. It’s unprecedented. A few weeks ago, I looked just at the last handful of years and found that, typically, six or seven of the top 10 free agents signed by the new year. We’re still at two of 10 — same as a few weeks ago — and that’s only if you consider Carlos Santana a top-10 free agent, which is debatable. It’s a complex issue, but part of it certainly is the ubiquity of analytics in front offices, creating homogeneity in thinking. A consequence of that is everyone now being aware that big free agent contracts haven’t panned out well; it’s a topic of conversation that everyone can have and understand now. Back in 2010, I upset a lot of people by suggesting that Ryan Howard’s five-year, $125 million contract with the Phillies wouldn’t pan out well. Those people mostly cited home runs and RBI and got mad when I cited WAR and wOBA and defensive metrics. Now, many of those same people are wary of signing free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer and they now cite WAR, wOBA, and the various defensive metrics.

The public’s hyper-sensitivity to the viability of long-term free agent contracts — thanks in part to segments like the aforementioned — is a really bad trend if you’re a player, agent, or just care about labor in general. The tables have become very much tilted in favor of ownership over labor over the last decade and a half. Nathaniel Grow of FanGraphs pointed out in March 2015 that the players’ share of total league revenues peaked in 2002 at 56 percent, but declined all the way to 38 percent in 2014. The current trend of teams signing their talented players to long-term contract extensions before or during their years of arbitration eligibility — before they have real leverage — as well as teams abstaining from signing free agents will only serve to send that percentage further down.

Craig has written at great length about the rather serious problem the MLBPA has on its hands. Solving this problem won’t be easy and may require the threat of a strike, or actually striking. As Craig mentioned, that would mean getting the players all on the same page on this issue, which would require some work. MLB hasn’t dealt with a strike since 1994 and it’s believed that it caused a serious decline in interest among fans, so it’s certainly something that would get the owners’ attention. The MLBPA may also need to consider replacing union head Tony Clark with someone with a serious labor background. Among the issues the union could focus on during negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement: abolishing the draft and getting rid of the arbitration system. One thing is for sure: the players are not in a good spot now, especially when the league has its own network on which it propagandizes against them.