Greinke! Greinke! Greinke! (And all things Zack)

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Kansas City started Anthony Lerew last night rather than the best pitcher in the league, but Zack Greinke still managed to make headlines by getting thrown out of the game from his seat in the dugout. Here’s how Dick Kaegel of MLB.com described the scene:

Greinke was ejected after [home plate umpire Greg] Gibson’s call of a ball that gave Red Sox batter Jacoby Ellsbury a 2-2 count against Royals starter Anthony Lerew. But it wasn’t just that pitch that riled Greinke. He’d been watching Gibson’s calls from the dugout and later from a television in the clubhouse. Finally, he came into the dugout and unloaded verbally.



“I just lost my composure, at least temporarily,” Greinke said. “I don’t usually do that. But it happens sometimes. I did right there, I don’t know why. It wasn’t warranted to be as vocal as I was about it. I was loud because I wanted him to hear me. I shouldn’t have done it. There were no cuss words. I don’t ever say cuss words, so I didn’t do that. I didn’t call him any names, either.”

Greinke’s next start comes Sunday afternoon against the Twins and the Royals are pulling out all the stops for his final home outing of the season, offering half-price tickets, discounted concessions, and “Greinke for Cy” t-shirts for the first 10,000 people through the turnstiles. Greinke is 9-3 with a 1.76 ERA at home this year and his 2.08 ERA overall would be the lowest mark by any AL pitcher since Pedro Martinez’s ridiculous 1.74 in 2000.
He also leads the AL in fewest hits per nine innings, WHIP, and shutouts, ranks second in strikeouts, K/BB ratio, and complete games, and is fifth in innings. To me that’s a slam-dunk Cy Young winner, but because Greinke has just 15 wins thanks to awful teammates some people see it another way. For instance, longtime announcer and former Cy Young winner Steve Stone wrote the following today:

While Greinke seems to be people’s choice for AL Cy Young, take a look at Felix Hernandez. Felix: 17-5. Greinke: 15-8.

Hernandez is an amazing young pitcher having a Cy Young-caliber season, but he just hasn’t been as good as Greinke, slightly better win-loss record or not. Of course, it’s tough to blame Stone for holding that opinion. Not only have people focused on pitcher win-loss records for decades and decades when it comes to determining who’s best, Stone benefited greatly from that focus when he won the award in 1980.
That year he ranked seventh in ERA and ninth in innings, but won a league-high 25 games for a 100-win Orioles team. Stone threw 251 innings with a 3.23 ERA and 149/101 K/BB ratio while Mike Norris of the A’s threw 284 innings with a 2.53 ERA and 180/83 K/BB ratio. Norris threw more innings while allowing fewer runs, had more strikeouts and fewer walks, was the league’s toughest pitcher to hit, and completed three times as many games, but because Stone had three more wins he got the award.
No wonder he views this year’s best pitchers the same way.

Reds prospect Juan Duran suspended 80 games

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Juan Duran, a minor-league outfielder in the Reds’ farm system, has been suspended 80 games following positive tests for the performance-enhancing drugs Drostanolone, Stanozolol, and Nandrolone.

Duran is 6-foot-7 with big-time power, averaging 23 homers per 150 games since 2011, but he also strikes out a ton and struggles to control the strike zone. He spent last season at Double-A, missing a lot of time with injuries and hitting .256 with six homers and a .728 OPS in 59 games as a 23-year-old.

Duran is on the 40-man roster and is considered a quasi-prospect, but he’ll be ineligible to play until July and figures to head back to Double-A once reinstated.

The Blue Jays will talk long term deals with Jose Bautistia and Edwin Encarnacion

Jose Bautista Blue Jays
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Ever since Alex Anthopoulos resigned as Blue Jays’ GM and Mark Shapiro took over as team president, a distinct air of frugality has set in over Rogers Centre. The go-for-broke attitude that fueled Toronto’s fantastic second half last year was repudiated and long-term, sustainable building has seemed to be the order of the day.

But the Jays aren’t going to go crazy with that: ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that the Blue Jays plan to have long-term extension talks with the agents of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion during spring training. This, combined with the still-remaining possibility that they can avoid arbitration with MVP Josh Donaldson and hammer out a long-term deal could mean some serious spending by the Jays before Opening Day.

Or this could just be talk from the front office designed to buoy the spirits of fans. Locking up all three of them to long-term deals may be hella expensive and may not be possible. It’s also the case that, given their ages — Bautista is 35 and Encarnacion is 33 — it may not be advisable to lock the both up. As always, it depends on the terms and how generous Rogers Communications plans on being with the Jays’ budget.

But the chatter is now out there and expectations are poised to be set.

The Rays are REALLY ready to get to work on that new ballpark

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Last month St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay Rays reached an agreement that would allow the Rays to seek a new ballpark outside of the St. Pete city limits, anywhere in the Bay Area. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports¬†today that the Rays have submitted a required report to that end which “describes how they plan to evaluate potential ballpark sites across the Tampa Bay area” and serves as a rough outline of the sort of facility they’re looking to build.

They submitted it 39 days before deadline. Ya think they’re eager to get moving?

As for the specifics, it sounds like they’re shooting for a Braves or Cardinals style destination place with surrounding entertainment, retail and the like. The Braves are achieving that by basically building the park at a mall and plan to surround it with other mall/entertainment district-type development. The Cardinals built a downtown park, but have developed Ballpark Village after the fact. This is to be contrasted with downtown parks which either counted on existing city businesses or spurred separate development.

All of which makes sense given that there isn’t one dominant location in Tampa which all but demands development there. Tampa has a few different areas that might make sense and the place is generally more spread out than older cities. It also makes sense for the Rays’ owners who are likely well aware that being in the real estate business is just as good for them as being in the baseball business.

Will anyone EVER break that record that was broken nine years ago?

Hank Aaron
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In 2007, Barry Bonds hit his 756th home run. He would go on to hit six more, finishing his career with 762. That was nine years ago and, at present, the active home run leader is nearly 80 homers behind him and no sure bet to come close. The next closest guy is over 200 homers back and clearly entering a period of decline.

All of which raises the question: will anyone EVER pass the home run total of Hank Aaron, who is in second place on that list?

Maybe you think that’s not really a pertinent question. We tend not to ask whether people who do not, by any objective measure, hold a record will have their records surpassed. But you’d be wrong. Why, just today, on Hank Aaron’s 82nd birthday, at least two journalists speculated whether anyone would ever become the all-time second place home run king:

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That’s from Cliff Corcoran at Sports Illustrated. As always, it’s excellent work from Cliff. Right up there with his seminal “will anyone ever catch Lou Brock in stolen bases?” and “who can catch Trevor Hoffman in career saves?” pieces.

Then there’s Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who approves of the question posed and has his own response:

You can imagine how those tweets were received by those parts of Twitter who are all about PED apologia, math, objective standards, noting that Aaron admitted that he took a PED that would have him banned today too and stuff like that. As always, these things get ugly.

Not that they have to be. It’s almost as if, if one were to try, one could celebrate the amazing inner-circle Hall of Fame career of Hank Aaron, full as it is with nearly unsurpassed accomplishment, without applying a revisionist gloss to the one accomplishment that, according to all objective measures and the accounting of Major League Baseball, has been surpassed. That one could talk about Aaron without slagging on Bonds.