Miguel Cabrera sprained his ankle while trying to get back to first on a pickoff play last night (hey, he has three stolen bases this year, so you’ve got to contain that risk!). It’s being described as a mild ankle sprain, but with only a few meaningless games left in the season it would seem silly for the Tigers to rush him back. If not for the sake of the ankle itself than simply so that he doesn’t get some other injury while compensating for it.
The American League MVP race is going to be interesting. Cabrera, assuming he doesn’t come back, will finish with nice triple crown stats: .328 average, 38 homers and 126 RBI
on the year. His OPS is nearly identical to Josh Hamilton (1.049 for Hamilton, 1.042 for Cabrera).
The knock on Hamilton by some is that he’s missed a lot of time, but the difference is not extreme: Hamilton has 559, Cabrera has 644. Joe Mauer won the MVP last year after missing the first month of the season and he only had 573 plate appearances, so we certainly can’t dismiss Hamilton.
Other possibilities — which we’ll obviously be discussing more in the coming days and weeks — include Robinson Cano, Jose Bautista and Evan Longoria. I imagine Adrian Beltre and Paul Konerko have their advocates. It’s quite wide open this year.
I’d probably give my first place vote — if I had one — to Josh Hamilton based on defense and pennant race stuff and what have you, but this is one award choice where reasonable people can disagree. And as long as they use some amount of reason to reach their conclusions, I’m pretty cool with that.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.