What the heck are "pressure starts?"

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I’m not going to re-re-re-rehash the AL Cy Young arguments here, but this thing from the Daily News’ Bill Madden — Spink Award-winning Bill Madden — begs to be highlighted:

The sabermetric guys are making the case for Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, who belies his 13-12 record with a league-leading 2.27 ERA, 249.2
innings, 30 quality starts and, in their jargon a plus-five in
“adjustable pitching wins.” If you simply asked who’s the best pitcher
in baseball? – it would have to be King Felix. But, for this award this
year, we would dare to inject another intangible – pressure starts –
which would then shift the focus to Tampa Bay’s David Price and the Yankees’ CC Sabathia, who can both make the case that every one of their starts was an important one.

I’ve not seen one sabermetric writer base the case for Hernandez on “adjustable pitching wins.” I’ve seen many make their case on oh-so-esoteric concepts like ERA, strikeouts and innings pitched. Run support is about as technical as it has gotten, and baseball fans have understood the concept of run support since, oh, the mid-19th century. To make this a thing about statheads and their “jargon” is ridiculous.

And it’s made even more ridiculous by the fact that Madden himself makes up a stat on the spot: “pressure starts.” What are those? No idea, because Madden doesn’t define them, even if he says that Hernandez is “the victim of having made zero” of them. I dare say that if the “sabermetric guys” just made up a stat like that and used to end the debate, QED, Madden would have a hissy fit. It’s OK when he does it, though.

But of course we know what he’s getting at here: Sabathia and Price play for teams that won a lot of games and they have a lot of wins themselves. Same old argument for wins, just dressed up with a different and — Madden probably hopes — less controversial title.  Which is fine. He’s the Hall of Fame-honored writer. Let him do what he wants in such matters.

I’d just feel better about it all if he could explain how Sabathia and Price’s starts were so pressure-filled, what with both of their teams being all but assured of spots in the playoffs for the past couple of months.

Report: Tigers and J.D. Martinez agree to a two-year, $18.5 million deal

J.D. Martinez
Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
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UPDATE: Jason Beck of MLB.com confirms that it’s a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

8:00 p.m. ET: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with outfielder J.D. Martinez by agreeing to a two-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved, but Robert Murray of Baseball Essential reported earlier today that he was hearing rumblings about a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million by the Tigers when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. There has been some talk about a long-term extension, but we heard last week that the two sides were discussing both one- and two-year deals. This new deal will buy out Martinez’s final two years of arbitration, so as of now, he’s still on track to go into free agency after 2017.

After a breakout 2014, Martinez batted .282 with 38 home runs and an .879 OPS over 158 games last season.

Free agent reliever Eric O’Flaherty weighing interest from four teams

New York Mets pitcher Eric O'Flaherty throws against the Miami Marlins during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Miami, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. The Mets defeated the Miami Marlins 8-6. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)
AP Photo/Joe Skipper
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Veteran reliever Eric O'Flaherty is coming off the worst season of his career, but there’s still plenty of interest in a bounceback, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that he’s deciding between four teams and “should sign a deal by the weekend.”

You really can’t sugarcoat O’Flaherty’s 2015. The 31-year-old was flat-out bad, posting an 8.41 ERA and 21/18 K/BB ratio over 30 innings of work between the Athletics and Mets. Opposing batters hit .343/.427/.482 against him. I keep going back to check if that’s a misprint, but nope, it’s real. He also missed some time with shoulder inflammation. On the bright side, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reported last month that O’Flaherty feels healthy and believes that he has fixed his mechanics.

O’Flaherty’s career has veered off track since Tommy John surgery in 2013, but he has enjoyed plenty of success in the past and throws from the left side. He’s the kind of guy who will continue to get chances.

Mets sign outfielder Roger Bernadina

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Veteran outfielder Roger Bernadina has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Mets that includes an invitation to spring training.

Bernadina was a semi-regular for the Nationals from 2010-2012, but never developed as much as hoped offensively and didn’t play in the majors at all last season.

At age 32 he’s a career .236 hitter with a .661 OPS in 548 games as a big leaguer and given the Mets’ outfield depth–they already have Alejandro De Aza and Juan Lagares in bench/part-time roles–Bernadina seems likely to begin the season in the minors.

J.R. Graham is in The Best Shape of his Life

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher J.R. Graham celebrates after the final out as the Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 12-2 in  a baseball game, Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Minneapolis. The Twins won 12-2. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
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Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports that Twins reliever J.R. Graham has lost “roughly 30-40 pounds this offseason.” It’s not a result of workouts, though. Just a change in diet. Bollinger says that Graham cut out sugar, alcohol and foods heavy in carbs and focused on a high-protein diet with lots of salads, meats and vegetables.

That’s an awful lot of weight to lose in four months, but the dude is only 26 and guys in their 20s lose weight just by thinking about it. Which is so very annoying to those of us who aren’t guys in their 20s.

The real test, of course, will come when he is working out far more strenuously once spring training starts and gets into the season. Normal schmos like me can keep up that kind of diet without much of a hitch as long as we have the willpower. An athlete’s energy requirements are far greater and far more specialized, so he’ll need more fuel than he’s probably been getting this offseason. Word is, however, that professional sports teams have people on staff that, you know, have made monitoring that kind of thing their life’s work.

In the meantime:

“I can just feel the change,” Graham said. “The energy. Everything. I feel great. I’m excited to see how it’ll translate into spring. I know I shouldn’t have any problems because I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m faster. All that. So it’s really exciting.”

It’s very exciting indeed. Because, with that, Graham becomes the latest baseball player to be . . . In The Best Shape of His Life.