Marty Noble is brilliant, even when he isn't

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People often needle Marty Noble of MLB.com 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.

Cubs expected to host an All-Star Game in the near future

A general view of Wrigley Field and the newly renovated bleachers during the second inning of a baseball game between the the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds Thursday, June 11, 2015,  in Chicago. Chicago won 6-3. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
AP Photo/Paul Beaty
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The 2016-18 All-Star Games are spoken for, but the Cubs could play host not long thereafter according to commissioner Rob Manfred, Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports.

The Padres are hosting at Petco Park this year, the Marlins will host at Marlins Park next season, and the Nationals will host in 2018 at Nationals Park. That will make four consecutive National League hosts and five if the Cubs get it in 2019. In the past, the National and American Leagues have alternated hosting privileges. That is sort of important now since the league that wins the All-Star Game gets home field advantage in the World Series.

The Cubs last hosted the All-Star Game in 1990 and have hosted a total of three times (1962 and 1947 being the other years) since its inception in 1933.

Wrigley Field has been undergoing renovations which are expected to be completed by the 2019 season. Manfred said that the Cubs hosting the All-Star Game “will provide the Cubs and Ricketts family a chance to showcase the unbelievable renovation they are in the midst of doing for Wrigley field.”

Update: Here’s a table showing the last time each team hosted the All-Star Game.

Team Park Last Hosted Yrs Since Notes
Dodgers Dodger Stadum 1980 35
Nationals Olympic Stadium (Expos) 1982 33 2018 host
Athletics Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum 1987 28
Cubs Wrigley Field 1990 25
Blue Jays SkyDome 1991 24
Padres Jack Murphy Stadium 1992 23 2016 host
Orioles Oriole Park at Camden Yards 1993 22
Rangers The Ballpark in Arlington 1995 20
Phillies Veterans Stadium 1996 19
Indians Jacobs Field 1997 18
Rockies Coors Field 1998 17
Red Sox Fenway Park 1999 16
Braves Turner Field 2000 15
Mariners Safeco Field 2001 14
Brewers Miller Park 2002 13
White Sox U.S. Cellular Field 2003 12
Astros Minute Maid Park 2004 11
Tigers Comerica Park 2005 10
Pirates PNC Park 2006 9
Giants AT&T Park 2007 8
Yankees Yankee Stadium 2008 7
Cardinals Busch Stadium 2009 6
Angels Angels Stadium of Anaheim 2010 5
D’Backs Chase Field 2011 4
Royals Kauffman Stadium 2012 3
Mets Citi Field 2013 2
Twins Target Field 2014 1
Reds Great American Ball Park 2015 0
Marlins Never Hosted 2017 host
Rays Never Hosted

Kyle Hendricks and Adam Warren will compete for No. 5 spot in Cubs’ rotation

Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks throws during the first inning of Game 3 of the National League baseball championship series against the New York Mets Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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Expect Kyle Hendricks and Adam Warren to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Cubs’ starting rotation this spring, writes Gordon Wittenmyer for the Chicago Sun-Times. Clayton Richard could serve as a fallback option as well.

Hendricks, 26, pitched well in his first full season in 2015. He finished with a 3.95 ERA and a 167/43 K/BB ratio over 180 innings. That was a solid follow-up to his rookie campaign in 2014, when he posted a 2.46 ERA over 13 starts.

The Cubs acquired Warren, 28, from the Yankees in the Starlin Castro trade. He contributed both out of the rotation and the bullpen in the Bronx this past season, pitching 131 1/3 innings with a 3.29 ERA and a 104/39 K/BB ratio.

One through four, the Cubs’ rotation is solid with defending National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Jason Hammel.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson plans to limit David Wright to 130 or fewer games

David Wright
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Mets third baseman David Wright missed four months of the 2015 season due to spinal stenosis. In other words, Wright dealt with a narrowing of his spinal column. Going forward, the Mets plan to be cautious with Wright so as not to overuse him.

As ESPN’s Adam Rubin reports, Mets GM Sandy Alderson plans to have the 33-year-old Wright play in no more than 130 games. Alderson said, “We’re gonna make sure that he’s not overworked. So it’s important for us to find somebody who can play 30 games or so at third base when he’s not in there. But I think we have to be realistic, and not expect that he’s gonna be an absolute everyday [player] out there playing 150 or 155 games. That’s not gonna happen.”

Wilmer Flores played 26 games at third base in his rookie season in 2013, so he could back up Wright as needed. But Alderson mentioned that because Wright would mostly sit against right-handed pitchers, the switch-hitting Neil Walker or Asdrubal Cabrera could get the call at the hot corner.

When he was on the field last season, Wright hit a productive .289/.379/.434 with five home runs and 17 RBI in 174 plate appearances.

Marlins still searching for starting pitching depth

Aaron Harang
AP Photo/Matt Slocum
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The Marlins would like to add “another pitcher or two” before pitchers and catchers report to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes. Among starting pitchers available, Kyle Lohse, Aaron Harang, and Alfredo Simon are candidates for the Marlins, but they may hold out for the possibility of inking a major league contract. Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee are other potential candidates, per Frisaro.

This offseason, the Marlins signed Wei-Yin Chen to a five-year, $80 million deal and Edwin Jackson for the major league minimum. The back of the rotation, though, is still a question mark as Jarred Cosart, Adam Conley, and Justin Nicolino will compete with Jackson for two spots. David Phelps is dealing with an elbow injury and may or not be ready by Opening Day, but he could function in a swingman capacity as well.