The Pirates need a mercy rule for Brewers games

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Here are the scores of the last four Brewers-Pirates games. The Brewers have the big number in each of these, of course:

8-1
8-0
20-0
17-3.

Not that the Brewers are good. After all, in between game three and four of that list they lost three in a row to the Cubs, being outscored 25-4 in the process.  This is just a supernaturally-bad Pirates team, it seems.

Remember: this is the Pirates team which gave up 13 runs to the Dbacks in a single inning a couple of weeks ago. It’s a Pirates team that has been outscored 147-65, which has them comfortably on pace for the worst run-differential in baseball history. And it’s a mark they can attain even if they suddenly improve.

It’s hard to point to one single thing that is wrong with this team when so much is wrong, but I suppose starting pitching is the easiest target. Everyone is getting shelled and no one is even eating innings and saving the pen for another day in the process.

I figured the Pirates would be a bad team this year, but I didn’t figure they’d be this bad.  And while the crazy lopsided losses will cease sometime soon simply because such things aren’t sustainable, I see no way the Pirates can really improve themselves at this moment.

On the bright side, now even more great seats will be available at one of the best parks in baseball.  Sure, maybe you don’t want to pay your good money to watch the Pirates, but they gotta play a major league team, and half of a good performance is better than nothing.

Michael Bourn opts out of his minor league deal with the Orioles

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Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.

Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.

As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.

Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.

Rob Manfred talks about playing regular season games in Mexico

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The new Collective Bargaining Agreement commits the players and the league to regular season games on foreign soil. Most of the focus of this has been on games in London, for which there has been a lot of activity and discussion.

Yesterday before the Astros-Tigers game in Houston, however, Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about playing games in Mexico. And not as just a one-off, but as a foot-in-the-water towards possible expansion:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.

“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred said. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team.”

A team in Mexico could make some geographic sense and some marketing sense, though it’s not clear if there is a city that would be appropriate for that right now. Mexico City is huge but it has plenty of its own sports teams and is far away from the parts of the country where baseball is popular (mostly the border states and areas along the Pacific coast). At 7,382 feet, its elevation would make games at Coors Field look like the Deadball Era.

Monterrey has been talked about — games have been played there and it’s certainly closer — but it’s somewhat unknown territory demographically speaking. It’s not as big as Mexico City, obviously. Income stratification is greater there and most of the rest of Mexico than it is in the United States too, making projections of how much discretionary income people may spend on an expensive entertainment product like Major League Baseball uncertain. Especially when they have other sports they’ve been following for decades.

Interesting, though. It’s something Manfred has talked about many times over the years, so unlike so many other things he says he’s “considering” or “hasn’t ruled out,” Major League Baseball in Mexico is something worth keeping our eyes on.