Lots of love from the Cubs about all the help Greg Maddux have them as a special assistant/jack-of-all-trades in Mesa this spring:
The former Cubs and Braves pitcher dabbled in a variety of duties
this spring, from watching pitchers to scouting to even throwing a
little batting practice. One day this past spring, Minor League catcher Chris Robinson was at
Fitch Park, and the Cubs were short of coaches to throw batting
practice. Maddux volunteered, threw a couple times to warm up, then
asked Robinson what he wanted to work on. Maddux then pinpointed the
pitches exactly where Robinson wanted . . .
. . . On a rainy day in February, Maddux was standing behind pitcher Jeff
Stevens, who was throwing in the batting cages. Stevens’ assignment was
to throw 20 pitches, rest, then throw another 20. After he began, Maddux
made a suggestion. “He’s pretty soft-spoken,” Stevens said. “He’d whisper one thing to you
— you’re going to trust him. He said, ‘Throw a slider here.’ He would
help me with sequence and gave me perspective.
And then you see what happened to the Cubs yesterday and you realize the full depth and breadth of the Braves master plan. It begins with Greg Maddux: double agent. Step two will be revealed tomorrow.
Why no, I’m not bitter or jealous that my favorite player of all time has foresaken the team with which he had the most success and provided me the most joy for the team that never loved him the way we, er, I mean, the Braves loved him. No sir.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.