Some of you may be wondering why I didn’t drop off and disappear at 11AM like I usually do. The reason: I have nowhere to drop off to. I quit my legal job last week. I also retired ShysterBall, the baseball blog I’ve written since 2007, most recently for the Hardball Times. Starting today I am full time with Circling the Bases, and will be posting more or less all day. One fewer practicing lawyer in the world + more baseball blogging = a very, very good thing indeed, wouldn’t you agree? If you’re looking to give me a gift congratulating the move, I have some ideas. Though to be honest, I have no idea what I’d do with a briefcase given that I’ll be writing from my couch while wearing pajamas all day.
Anyway, the plan going forward: Aaron, Matthew, Bob, D.J. and I will be combining to ramp up and improve the Circling the Bases experience. The goal: to make CTB the place for all of your baseball news and analysis needs. One stop shopping, as it were. The place where you usually hear things first, and even if you don’t, the place where you come to get an enlightened, provocative or at the very least humorous take on the day’s doings. And if none of that works for you, the place where you can yell at us as we try to do it.
There will be fun stuff ahead. In the short term: more posts. Next week: I’m going to the Winter Meetings, where I’m going to do my best to try and find out one-tenth of the stuff Rosenthal does and run up a hotel bar tab one-tenth the size of Billy Martin’s record from 1982. Even then I’m probably flirting with death.
Long term: we’re going to continue to build CTB into the best baseball blog on the web. I hope you come along for the ride.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.