Jason Heyward is in the midst of his first extended slump, going 1-for-20 in his last seven games, and Braves manager Bobby Cox thinks he’s being too patient at the plate:
We’re going to talk to him. He’s taking way too many pitches for strikes. [As a result] he’s getting one pitch to swing at right now.
Not many 20-year-old rookies are accused of being too patient during their first month in the big leagues, but Heyward is so good that even his problems are positive ones.
As for whether there’s truth to what Cox is saying, thanks to Fan Graphs we can see that the numbers seemingly agree. Heyward has 13 walks and 25 strikeouts in 81 plate appearances, which certainly shows that he’s taking tons of pitches and working deep counts often. In fact, he ranks third in the league with an average of 4.47 pitches per plate appearance.
He’s also swung at the fourth-lowest percentage of pitches inside the strike zone, which certainly matches Cox’s assessment that Heyward is letting many hittable pitches go by. Also worth noting is that when Heyward does swing he has the 10th-worst contact rate in the league.
Ultimately this is all picking nits, because he’s a 20-year-old rookie with an .806 OPS, but it’ll be interesting to see what type of adjustments Heyward makes now that he’s experienced some adversity.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Cubs have signed pitcher Brett Anderson to a contract, pending a physical. Anderson, apparently, impressed the Cubs during a bullpen session held in Arizona recently. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the deal is for $3.5 million, but incentives can bring the total value up to $10 million.
Anderson, 28, has only made a total of 53 starts and 12 relief appearances over the past five seasons due to a litany of injuries. This past season, he made just three starts and one relief appearance, yielding 15 runs on 25 hits and four walks with five strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings. The lefty dealt with back, wrist, and blister issues throughout the year.
When he’s healthy, Anderson is a solid arm to have at the back of a starting rotation or in the bullpen. The defending world champion Cubs aren’t risking much in bringing him on board.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.
What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.
The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.
Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.