Ken Rosenthal took a stab at a radical realignment scheme a few weeks ago, and most people who think about the game have come up with their own plan from time to time, but this story from Tom Verducci is the first I’ve heard of someone with even quasi-authority mulling it over. The quasi-authority is Bud’s “special committee for on-field matters,” which reportedly discussed a radical form of “floating” realignment in which teams would not be
fixed to a division, but free to change divisions from year-to-year
based on “geography, payroll and their plans to contend or not.” One possible example:
One example of floating realignment, according to one insider, would
work this way: Cleveland, which is rebuilding with a reduced payroll,
could opt to leave the AL Central to play in the AL East. The Indians
would benefit from an unbalanced schedule that would give them a total
of 18 lucrative home dates against the Yankees and Red Sox instead of
their current eight. A small or mid-market contender, such as Tampa Bay
or Baltimore, could move to the AL Central to get a better crack at
postseason play instead of continually fighting against the
mega-payrolls of New York and Boston.
Worth noting that this was just the stuff of brainstorming and no one is seriously considering it. That said, it’s pretty damn bad brainstorming. It’s bad enough when a team gives up on the season as it is. Formalizing a capitulation in such a matter would all but ensure that attendance went through the floor and that fans look to spend their summer entertainment dollar elsewhere.
Indeed, the first time a team decided to move to the AL East because they didn’t plan to compete, only to have the team get a little frisky and fall a few games short of the playoffs — which they would have likely made if they had stayed back home in their division — people would riot.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.
Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:
I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.
The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.
The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.