Daily Dose: Reyes Ready to Return?

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Jose Reyes went 1-for-3 with two steals in an extended spring training game Monday and followed that up by going 2-for-5 with two walks in another extended spring game Tuesday night. Perhaps just as importantly, Reyes played all nine innings at shortstop, possibly signaling that he could be cleared to return from his thyroid disorder when eligible to come off the disabled list this weekend.
He hasn’t played a regular season game since May 20 and coming back from hamstring surgery made him a question mark even before the thyroid situation surfaced. No one seems quite sure what type of impact the thyroid condition could have once he returns and the hamstring problems could mean fewer steal attempts, but I still wouldn’t be surprised if Reyes ends up as a top-three fantasy shortstop. He’s still just 27 years old.
While the Mets hope to put Alex Cora back on the bench soon, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* After a visit with Dr. James Andrews and an MRI exam the news on Huston Street’s right shoulder is relatively positive. No structural damage was found, but he’s been diagnosed with inflammation and will need to do additional strengthening exercises before throwing again. There’s no timetable for Street’s return and he’s already had setbacks, so Franklin Morales should have closer value for at least the rest of April.
* If there was no such thing as a “save” the Twins probably would’ve left Matt Guerrier in to pitch the ninth inning Tuesday after he breezed through a 1-2-3 eighth inning on 11 pitches, but instead they brought in new closer Jon Rauch. And just like most quality relievers will do about 90 percent of the time, he was able to protect a two-run lead for one inning versus the bottom of the Angels’ lineup. So far so good replacing Joe Nathan.
* Rotoworld’s award-winning Season Pass product has subscriber-only columns, daily waiver wire and starting pitcher advice, extensive prospect coverage, detailed bullpen and rotation databases, frequently updated projections and rankings, and much, much more. If you’re not satisfied simply putting your teams on cruise control after draft day, Season Pass can help you make the most of this season.
* Out since breaking his thumb early in spring training, Alex Gordon is scheduled to begin a minor-league rehab assignment Thursday at Single-A. He’s eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday, but will need a little more time than that. Willie Bloomquist started in Gordon’s place on Opening Day, but thankfully for Royals fans’ remaining sanity Alberto Callaspo will be the primary fill-in once his own oblique injury clears up.
* If you do just one thing to enable someone’s addiction today, make it following me on Twitter.
AL Quick Hits: A.J. Burnett struggled Tuesday night against the Red Sox, so expect more rumblings about his compatibility with Jorge Posada … Gil Meche (shoulder) tossed five shutout innings in a minor-league game Tuesday and could be cleared to face the Red Sox this weekend … Mike Gonzalez blew a win for Kevin Millwood when Carl Crawford delivered a walk-off single Tuesday … With left-hander Jon Lester on the mound, the Yankees benched Brett Gardner for Marcus Thames and moved Curtis Granderson to the ninth spot Tuesday … Ken Griffey Jr. also sat against a left-hander Tuesday, with Eric Byrnes replacing him in the lineup and Milton Bradley moving to designated hitter … James Shields served up three solo homers in a no-decision Tuesday and faces the Yankees next … Jeff Mathis started Tuesday over Mike Napoli for the second straight game … Dioner Navarro started over Kelly Shoppach in the Rays’ opener Tuesday.
NL Quick Hits: Lance Berkman received a cortisone shot and had his surgically repaired knee drained, but there’s no timetable yet for his return … Corey Hart rejoined the Brewers’ lineup Tuesday after sitting in favor of Jim Edmonds on Opening Day … Ian Stewart missed the cycle by a single Tuesday and is sporting a nifty 2.357 OPS through two games … Barry Zito shut out the Astros for six innings Tuesday, winning his season debut for the first time since 2003 … Jeff Supppan (neck) is hoping to rejoin the Brewers’ rotation after making one minor-league rehab start later this week … Aroldis Chapman will make his pro debut Sunday at Triple-A … Jeff Francis (armpit) played catch Tuesday and is aiming for a rehab assignment next week … Chris Young looked like his old self Tuesday with six one-hit innings against his namesake in Arizona … Fred Lewis (ribs) is slated to begin a rehab stint Thursday at Triple-A and soon the Giants will have a decision to make on the out-of-options outfielder.

Must-Click Link: Do the players even care about money anymore?

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Yesterday I wrote about how the union has come to find itself in the extraordinarily weak position it’s in. The upshot: their leadership and their membership, happily wealthy by virtue of gains realized in the 1970s-1990s, has chosen to focus on small, day-to-day, quality of life issues rather than big-picture financial issues. As a result, ownership has cleaned their clock in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. If the union is to ever get back the considerable amount of ground it has lost over the past 15 years, it’ll require a ton of hard work and perhaps drastic measures.

A few hours later, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan dropped an absolute must-read that expands on that topic. Through weeks of interviews with league officials, agents and players, he explains why the free agent market is as bad as it is for players right now and why so many of them and so many fans seem not to understand just how bad a spot the players are in, business wise.

Passan keys on the media’s credulousness regarding teams’ stated rationales for not spending in free agency. About how, with even a little bit of scrutiny, the “[Team] wants to get below the luxury tax” argument makes no sense. About how the claim that this is a weak free agent class, however true that may be, does not explain why so few players are being signed.  About how so few teams seem interested in actually competing and how fans, somehow, seem totally OK with it.

Passan makes a compelling argument, backed by multiple sources, that, even if there is a lot of money flowing around, the fundamental financial model of the game is broken. The young players are the most valuable but are paid pennies while players with 6-10 years service time are the least valuable yet are the ones, theoretically anyway, positioned to make the most money. The owners have figured it out. The union has dropped the ball as it has worried about, well, whatever the heck it is worried about. The killer passage on all of this is damning in this regard:

During the negotiations leading to the 2016 basic agreement that governs baseball, officials at MLB left bargaining stupefied almost on a daily basis. Something had changed at the MLBPA, and the league couldn’t help but beam at its good fortune: The core principle that for decades guided the union no longer seemed a priority.

“It was like they didn’t care about money anymore,” one league official said.

Personally, I don’t believe that they don’t care about money anymore. I think the union has simply dropped the ball on educating its membership about the business structure of the game and the stakes involved with any given rule in the CBA. I think that they either so not understand the financial implications of that to which they have agreed or are indifferent to them because they do not understand their scope and long term impact.

It’s a union’s job to educate its membership about the big issues that may escape any one member’s notice — like the long term effects of a decision about the luxury tax or amateur and international salary caps — and convince them that it’s worth fighting for. Does the MLBPA do that? Does it even try? If it hasn’t tried for the past couple of cycles and it suddenly starts to now, will there be a player civil war, with some not caring to jeopardize their short term well-being for the long term gain of the players who follow them?

If you care at all about the business and financial aspects of the game, Passan’s article is essential.