The Pirates hire a new "Mental Conditioning Coordinator"

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We must begin by asking it:  “What is losing?” Losing is a disease. As contagious as polio. Losing is a disease.  As contagious as syphilis. Losing is a disease as contagious as bubonic plague; attacking one, but infecting all. But curable. Now, I want you to imagine you are on a ship at sea on a vast, gently rocking . . . gently rocking . . .

Bernie Holliday, who has a Ph.D. in sports
psychology and spent the last six years working at the United States
Military Academy, was hired as mental conditioning coordinator. He
replaces Geoff Miller, whose contract was not renewed.

Much, much more on Holliday and his particular assignment in this Post-Gazette article:

[Holliday] could bring to the Pirates such Army teaching techniques as
workshops, simulations, on-field exercises, videos and MP3 audios
personalized to each player, attention-control technology and
biofeedback analysis. The techniques cover a variety of mental skill
sets: from adaptation to analysis, from energy management to
establishment of a purpose, from preparation to perseverance, from
self-awareness to self-regulation.

The above “Natural” quote notwithstanding, I’m not trying to be snarky here.  I’ll grant that there’s more to this kind of job than telling people to be the ball or breathe through their eyelids or whatever. But really, do all teams have a “mental conditioning coordinator?” The article says the Red Sox and Indians do, and Pittsburgh apparently had one for the past few years.

I’d really like to know what people in the game actually think of this kind of stuff.  I guess I’m more curious about this than anything, but my gut says that ballplayers would be a bit less receptive to biofeedback analysis and energy management than your average bear.

Mets sign Matt Purke to minors deal

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The Mets signed left-hander Matt Purke to a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Purke will also receive an invitation to spring training, where he could presumably beef up the club’s left-handed relief options alongside Jerry Blevins and Josh Smoker.

Purke has not appeared in the majors since 2016, when he was used in a dozen relief appearances by the White Sox. The 27-year-old racked up a 5.50 ERA, 6.0 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 in his first 18 innings with the team, and was demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in June to finish out the season. He spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A as well, showing more promise with a 3.84 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 11.0 SO/9 in 48 appearances.

While Purke may not amount to much more than a depth piece in New York’s ‘pen, the veteran lefty figures to be part of the Mets’ new bullpen-first strategy next year. Reports from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicate that the club will be focusing on improving their relief options in order to ease the workload of their starting pitchers, and will likely add a few more arms before the offseason comes to a close.