One of the reasons teams have media relations people is so that a nice little shine can be put on news tidbits that aren’t particularly shiny. Health updates are one of those things. For example, did you know that there’s an exhibit in the PR Professionals Hall of Fame dedicated to preserving the memory of one Alfred R. Wilkinson? Who is Alfred Wilkinson you ask? Why, he’s the former Yankees PR man who came up with the term “flulike smptoms” to cover for Mikey Mantle’s legendary May 19th-23rd 1962 Minneapolis bender, and it’s been used ever since. It’s true! (note: may not be true).
I bring this up because I’m sure the Boston Red Sox have their own version of Alfred Wilkinson, and he probably should have been consulted before Terry Francona briefed the media on why Daisuke Matsuzaka had to cut his side session short today:
Daisuke Matsuzaka was forced to abandon his scheduled side session
due to what Red Sox manager Terry Francona classified as ‘intestinal
turmoil.’ The pitcher threw up after executing long toss, not getting a
chance to begin his work in the bullpen. Matsuzaka was sent back to the
team hotel with the hope that he will be able to throw a lighter side
“He got sick,” Francona said. “I don’t know how you say that in
Japanese, but he puked.”
Sure, maybe “flulike symptons” is not appropriate for Matsusaka’s particular situation, but I’m sure there was a more artful way that could have been phrased. How about “stomach flu?” Or perhaps he had a sore thumb! Everyone has one of those these days!
But really, if the Sox are going to bypass their P.R. people, the least they could do is let Dustin Pedroia do the briefings. I’m sure the guy who came up with “laser show” could characterize Dice-K’s little problem in a much more entertaining way.
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.