Sports Illustrated Writer: contract the Pirates!

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Paul Daugherty, usually of the Cincinnati Enquirer, but writing here for Sports Illustrated, saw just about all he needed to see from the Pirates last week:

In the seven days between April 20 and 26, the Pirates were outscored
72-12. Not by the Yankees, or even the Jets, but by the Brewers and the
Houston Astros. This isn’t Major League Baseball in any way, except
embarrassment.

Break up the Pirates.

No, really.
Dismantle them player by player. Melt them down. Paperweights and
doorstops for everyone.

Daugherty bases his argument on more than just the shellacking at the hands of the Brewers and Astros, of course. The 17 years of futility enter into it, as well as charges that the Pirates don’t spend their revenue sharing money to actually make the team better.

Which doesn’t exactly square with the union’s position, which I wrote about last week.  The union believes that the Pirates are not, like the Marlins, squandering money to make the team better or otherwise acting poorly as an organization. Sure, that’s just one group’s opinion of the matter, but doesn’t it follow that the first ones to scream if the Pirates were mismanaging the store would be the union?

And as for those 17 years, the vast majority of them occurred under different ownership and different management.  It’s cold comfort to Pirates fans who can’t necessarily be expected to care what regime is presiding over the bad on-the-field product, but Daugherty knows that different people are in charge now, and unless he’s in radical disagreement with most people who know a little bit about the subject, he has to acknowledge that things are better now than they were just a few short years ago.

I know it’s bleak in Pittsburgh, but it’s not hopeless, and this brand of overreaction doesn’t seem to reflect what’s really going on in the organization.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.