You know that sinking feeling you get when your team decides to go all-in on some increasingly calcifying veteran free agent on the wrong side of 35? Well, it’s happening less and less:
For a group of big-name baseball free agents over the age of 35, last year was a winter of serious discontent.
Frank Thomas, Jim Edmonds, Ray Durham, Paul Lo Duca and many others
were hit by a deep freeze that left proven veteran Major Leaguers
without big league offers, and in some cases, even Minor League
invites. It was cold and puzzling, and yet another harsh sign of the
A year later, with the Hot Stove season in full swing, similarly aged
former star players such as Garret Anderson, Brian Giles, Jim Thome,
Nomar Garciaparra, Kevin Millar, Darin Erstad, Miguel Batista and Randy
Winn might find themselves wondering where they’ll be employed, or
quite possibly having to prove themselves in Spring Training all over
Sure, two-thirds of those guys will get multi-year offers from the Giants, but what are the other guys gonna do?
But seriously, is there one name on that list that is a better than anyone your team has in a given position right now? Maybe Thome would still be useful as a DH, but with the Andruw Jones signing, even his most speculated-about landing pad — the White Sox — may not be an option.
It’s always been amazing to me that a game that is such a brutal meritocracy on the way up has been an old boys club on the back end. Those days are all but gone now, and while that may be sad in any given case — who didn’t want to see Jim Edmonds take a victory lap last season? — it’s a good thing for the game in the aggregate.
Yasiel Puig made a public appearance today. He was a guest barista at a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Los Angeles as part of a charity . . . thing. I dunno. I just hope that, after finishing the foam on someone’s latte he airmailed it past his fellow barista at the counter and got it to the customer on the fly 300 feet away, after which he flipped the espresso machine. Gotta stay on-brand.
After that he talked about baseball. Puig, who was demoted last season and then brought back up in a part-time role, said that it’s his goal to be a starter again, if not in Los Angeles than someplace else. As for the someplace else, the Dodgers explored a Puig trade last season and it was thought they’d try again this offseason, but it’s been all quiet on that front.
What is Puig, for his part, doing to become a starter again? Getting in shape. From MLB.com:
Puig has been working out at Dodger Stadium the last two weeks. He is conditioning his leaner body to avoid injuries that have plagued him and working with batting coaches in search of regaining the impact bat that once had him on the verge of superstardom . . . The 6-foot-2 Puig, who last year was listed at 240 pounds, now has a personal chef to prepare healthier foods.
A leaner Puig. That’ll certainly be a game-changer, right?
Yet as a new season dawns, the team still hopes he can recapture the form he displayed as a rookie in 2013. The organization asked Puig to slim down and focus on durability rather than musculature. Friedman sounded pleased with the result. Puig had suggested he weighed about 240 pounds, down 15 from his listed weight in 2015.
Oops. That was from January 30, 2016.
If he keeps getting leaner each offseason eventually he’ll just disappear, right?
Corey Dickerson of the Tampa Bay Rays wasn’t a super huge guy or anything, but he’s going to be smaller this year: he told reporters today that he’s lost 25 pounds. He attributes it to a new diet and a workout regimen and says it’ll help him with his running, swing and throwing.
Dickerson had a down year in 2016, so if losing 25 pounds is something he thinks will work for him he’s got nothing to lose. Of course the best way for him to improve his numbers is to convince the Rays to trade him back to Colorado, but that’s not likely.