“Before, we were a good club that was gutsy. Now, we are a really good club with great guts.”
– Tony LaRussa, after the Cardinals
clinched their first NL Central title since 2006 with a 6-3 victory
over the Rockies on Saturday night.
“I’m not in a pennant race, but at least I have some pride. When you
get [to the clubhouse] and turn on a stupid-ass football game when
those [expletive] football players don’t give a [expletive] about you,
that’s embarrassing. We’ve got seven games [left]. They are going to
pull their [expletive] together, period. I don’t mind losing a game,
but when you lose a game and you don’t care about it, we are going to
have a problem. To get your asses kicked like that and all of a sudden,
you’re watching football games? That’s a bunch of [expletive].”
– Ozzie Guillen, after watching his
team blow a 5-0 lead in an eventual 12-5 loss to the Tigers on Saturday
night. The White Sox have dropped eight of their last 10 games.
“When was the last time a 40-year-old pinch-ran for a 39-year-old? That’s what I want to know.”
– Brad Ausmus, after he pinch-ran
for Jim Thome during Saturday’s 8-4 comeback win over the Pirates. With
the victory, the Dodgers secured a trip to the postseason, however,
their magic number to clinch the division is down to two.
“This is fun.
You don’t start making a big deal about it with a week [to go]. I’m not
trying to do that. We’ve got our own destiny in our own hands. That’s
just the way it is. You either do it or you don’t. And I feel very good
where we’re at, but you have to go out and win games.”
– Jim Leyland isn’t letting the
pressure of a pennant race get to him. With Saturday’s win over the
White Sox, The Tigers remain two games in front of the second-place
Twins with eight games left to play. They host a critical four-game
series against Minnesota on Monday.
Giants second baseman Joe Panik missed nearly all of August and September last season due to a nagging back injury, but he told Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com on Friday that he’s feeling “100 percent.”
Panik, who earned his first All-Star selection last season, originally landed on the disabled list in early August due to what was described as lower back inflammation. He made his return in September, but appeared in just three games before being shut down. The good news is that he was cleared by doctors in mid-December and considers himself “back to normal.”
“It was right around the time of all the signings,” he said, smiling. “I was able to fly under the radar. I got tested and everything had healed up. I got cleared and was able to have my full offseason workouts. I’m good to go. I’m happy to be feeling good and going back out on the field to show that I’m healthy. My swing feels strong.”
Panik altered his offseason workout routine and plans to spend less time in his spikes in the early part of spring training. The hope is that these changes will prevent future issues.
After a strong showing as a rookie in 2014, the 25-year-old Panik proved to be one of the best second baseman in the majors last season by batting .312/.378/.455 with eight home runs and 37 RBI over 100 games while playing solid defense.
Baseball America unveiled their top 100 prospect list Friday night during a special on MLB Network. It should come as no surprise that Dodgers infielder Corey Seager came in at No. 1.
This makes Seager the consensus top prospect in the game. He was also ranked first by MLB.com, Baseball Prospectus, and ESPN’s Keith Law. Twins outfielder Byron Buxton was ranked second on all four lists.
Baseball America has the most aggressive ranking of Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada from the Red Sox, who checked in at No. 3. He was followed by pitching prospects Lucas Giolito from the Nationals and Julio Urias from the Dodgers to round out the top five.
You can see Baseball America’s full top 100 list here.
Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia was permanently suspended on Friday after testing positive for a third time for a performance-enhancing drug. The right-hander is maintaining his innocence, as ESPN’s Adam Rubin notes in quoting Dominican sports journalist Hector Gomez. Mejia said, “It is not like they say. I am sure that I did not use anything.”
Mejia has the opportunity to petition commissioner Rob Manfred in one year for reinstatement to Major League Baseball. However, he must sit out at least two years before becoming eligible to pitch in the majors again, which would mean Mejia would be 28 years old.
Over parts of five seasons, Mejia has a career 3.68 ERA with 162 strikeouts and 76 walks over 183 1/3 innings. He was once a top prospect in the Mets’ minor league system and a top-100 overall prospect heading into the 2010 and ’11 seasons.
Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is at least three years away from free agency, but people are already contemplating just how large a contract the phenom will be able to negotiate, especially after taking home the National League Most Valuable Player Award for his performance this past season.
When the likes of David Price and Zack Greinke are signing for over $200 million at the age of 30 or older, it stands to reason that Harper could draw more as a 26-year-old if he can maintain MVP-esque levels of production over the next several seasons. $400 million might not be enough for Harper, though, as MLB.com’s Jamal Collier reports. He said, “Don’t sell me short,” which is a fantastic response.
During the 2015 season, Harper led the majors with a .460 on-base percentage and a .649 slugging percentage while leading the National League with 42 home runs and 118 runs scored. He also knocked in 99 runs for good measure. Harper and Ted Williams are the only hitters in baseball history to put up an adjusted OPS of 195 or better (100 is average) at the age of 22 or younger.