Baseball, union to meet on K-Rod today

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Major League Baseball, union folk and enough lawyers to fill out an intermural volleyball team will meet today to chat about the grievance Francisco Rodriguez filed after the Mets withheld salary from him and purported to make his contract non-guaranteed for next season.

I wouldn’t expect anything notable to happen today, inasmuch as this is a required meeting in advance of the arbitration of the matter. Much like, back when I was practicing law, opposing sides were supposed to confer with one another over discovery disputes prior to calling the judge about it.  It usually went like this:

Me: Dude, I requested “every document relating to research expenditures for fiscal year 2005.”  You sent me a kid’s menu from Bob Evans. And two of the three tic-tac-toe games were already filled out.

Other lawyer: I can assure you, we’ve searched for everything you’ve asked for, and what you have is all we are going to produce.

Me: Wait, those two things you just said don’t even go together. They fully provide for the possibility that you searched for and found everything I want, but that you’re simply not going to give it to me.

Other lawyer: Lalalalalalalalalal I can’t hear you!!!

Me: [conferencing in the judge]: Your honor, plaintiff’s counsel will not provide me with relevant documents and will not give me a good reason why. I simply cannot defend my case unless I have his production.

Judge: [waking up] Er, um, yes . . . I am so tired of the lack of civility among lawyers these days. Clearly we can resolve this dispute without my need to issue an order, can’t we?

Me: Actually, no. That’s why I’m calling. They’re being unreasonable and are saying “lalalalalala.”

Judge: Thank you counselor, now, please try to work together. Oh, and your trial date has been pushed back six months because I have a seminar or a vacation. I think. Gosh, why do people insist on suing one another?  Oh well . . . Zzzzzzzz.

Me: [bangs head on desk; says “screw it” and blogs about baseball for three hours, hoping the boss doesn’t catch me].

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.