Just in case you thought Ozzie Guillen was the only member of the White Sox’s coaching staff who likes giving expletive-filled quotes, here’s pitching coach Don Cooper on Jake Peavy and the rest of his staff struggling:
You can talk about a whole lot of stuff–mechanics, this and that, and the other things–but it’s time to get people out and try to figure a way to help us win games by fighting and clawing.
I can say I love to have low pitch counts, be in the seventh inning with 75 pitches. I don’t give a [bleep] what our pitch count is right now. I want you to go out and give us a chance to win the [bleep]ing game. If that’s five innings like John Danks did Saturday, it’s five innings. If it’s like the time before where Danks gave us eight, we won both games. We need to fight and claw. That’s what’s going on.
Cooper obviously knows far more about pitching than I ever will and has generally done a very good job with the White Sox, but I’m amused by the notion that, for example, Peavy’s struggles aren’t due to “a whole lot of stuff” like “mechanics” and are instead because he’s not “fighting and clawing” enough.
Also, just generally speaking my experience is that it’s never a good sign when someone says “this and that, and the other things.” On the other hand, Cooper is definitely right to single out John Danks as a positive, because he’s 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA and the rest of the White Sox’s pitching staff is 7-15 with a 5.46 ERA.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.