Marty Noble is brilliant, even when he isn't

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People often needle Marty Noble of because he doesn’t really get sabermetrics, or even embrace “newer stats” like OPS and WHIP, which makes his analysis of David Wright’s odd 2009 campaign pretty interesting to read:

Will David Wright hit more than 20 home runs?

Yes. But more important is whether he drives in runs as he did in each
full season before 2009. His power plunge was a curious and troubling
development for the team. He seemingly became spooked by the
dimensions, shape and karma of Citi Field in ’09. His RBIs dropped from
a four-year average of 112 to 72, partially because his home run total
decreased from an average of 29 to 10. But he also missed two weeks
because of a concussion, returned without a full sense of comfort in
the batter’s box and struck out 140 times. All that undermined his RBI
and home run production.

Yes, these are all legitimate reasons for Wright’s subpar season, but the
drop in RBI? He’s leaving out that Jose Reyes, who was regularly
sitting on a tee for Wright at second and third base from 2006-08, didn’t play a lick after May 20. Some nice table-setters can do wonders
for certain players (see: Jorge Cantu’s 2009) and Wright was missing
his for most of the season. No matter. It’s easy to forgive Noble when
he can spin webs like this:

How can the Mets avoid a run of debilitating injuries like they endured last season?

Drink more water, stretch properly before games, avoid walls, slide
feet first and never slide into first base. Abandon the split-finger
fastball, hang around with Ripken, keep the dugout steps clear (see
Luis Castillo last summer). Reach back for something extra only if
something extra is available. Improve bunting technique (see David
Cone, 1987), don’t take Dave Kingman swings in batting practice, learn
how to cut the bases properly. Abandon all maple bats. Don’t bat
against Perez in intrasquad games. Keep the oblique muscles stretched
and strong. Avoid collisions — no, avoid all contact with Padres first
baseman/outfielder Kyle Blanks (he’s 6-foot-6, 285 pounds). Don’t
wrestle with Santana — he’s Kingman strong. Never play catch with Jeff
Francoeur at distances fewer than 250 feet. Heed the warning track.
Don’t accept assignment to the Citi Field lockers assigned last season
to Santana, John Maine, J.J. Putz, Ryan Church, Reyes, Beltran, Alex
Cora, Carlos Delgado, Fernando Nieve, Gary Sheffield, Jon Niese,
Schneider, Wright or Pagan. Don’t sign Ben Sheets. Don’t smoke. Cross
at the green, not in between. Duck, get out of the way and, if at all
possible, rub the belly of Yogi Berra, the luckiest man ever to play
the game.

Noble may never know Wins Above Replacement (WAR) from the funk band of the same name, but few understand the pulse of the franchise better than him.

Erik Johnson likely to open 2016 in the White Sox rotation

DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  Starting pitcher Erik Johnson #45 of the Chicago White Sox delivers against the Colorado Rockies during Interleague play at Coors Field on April 9, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the White Sox 10-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from’s Scott Merkin.

“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.

“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”

Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.

Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Major League Baseball will investigate Yasiel Puig for his role in Miami nightclub brawl

Yasiel Puig
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.

The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.

Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.

As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.

Dayan Viciedo close to signing with Japan’s Chunichi Dragons

Dayan Viciedo
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
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Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.

Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.

The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.

Blue Jays sign J.A. Happ to a three-year, $36 million contract

J.A. Happ
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Update (8:45 PM EST): Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Happ will get $10 million in 2016 and $13 million each in 2017 and ’18.

*’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.

Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.

The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.

This will be Happ’s second stint with the Blue Jays. The Astros dealt him to Toronto in a July 2012 trade. He posted a 4.39 ERA with a 256/113 K/BB ratio in 291 innings with the Jays, then went to the Mariners in a trade this past December that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays.