You’ve got to love baseball’s offseason. In addition to the non-stop carousel of rumors, free-agent signings and blockbuster trades, you’ve got the sense of eternal optimism heading into the upcoming season (unless you’re a Royals fan). No one is in last place. No one is cursed, and no one is worried about Milton Bradley.
Which brings me to Lou Piniella’s statements on his Cubs, as told by Carrie Muskat of MLB.com.
“I’m looking forward to a team that will win this division again and give itself another chance to go on and get a World Series win,” the Cubs’ manager said Wednesday at Harry Caray’s Restaurant, a stop on the winter caravan. “That’s what I’m hoping for, and that’s what we’re striving for.”
Piniella points out that the Cubs won 83 games and finished second in the NL Central despite having 10 players miss at least 20 games, and also hints that the removal of Bradley from their delicate clubhouse will help.
… if we can win 83 games with all those problems and all those injuries and we stay relatively healthy this year, we can add another eight, 10 wins and get to the postseason and win in the postseason.”
He’s so adorable when he’s optimistic. I hate to rain on his parade, but here’s why the Cubs won’t win the World Series:
- The Cubs are 0-6 in the postseason under Piniella, and those teams were relatively healthy and sans-Bradley. Though I don’t believe in curses, those previous playoff teams folded as soon as they ran into any adversity, almost as if they expected to lose.
- The Cubs are already battling injury problems, with left-handed starter Ted Lilly, their only All-Star in 2009, expected to miss at least the first month of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
- Carlos Silva, the man Chicago acquired in the Bradley trade, is expected to improve clubhouse chemistry and possibly take Lilly’s spot in the rotation. The problem is, Silva sucks. Also, he was not a particularly good clubhouse presence in Seattle, calling out teammates publicly despite carrying no leadership weight because, well, he sucks. Did I mention he sucks?
- And finally: Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and the St. Louis Cardinals.
A championship for the Cubs? Go ahead and dream about it while you can, Lou.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.