“It’s more fair than eight.”
— Bud Selig, when asked if ten playoff teams — which Selig is strongly considering for 2012 — is “fair.” And 12 is more fair than ten, and 16 is way more fair than 12. We can play this game all day if we want to.
Either way, with the union appearing to adopt the idea of an expanded playoff wholeheartedly, it seems inevitable that it’s going to happen. Baseball will survive this, just as as it survived the wild card. But let’s not equate survival with optimal conditions, OK? Baseball’s playoffs are better than the other sports precisely because mediocre teams are, for the most part, kept out.
And, it’s worth noting, if there was a 10-team setup this year, there would have been basically zero pennant race drama whatsoever apart from a bit of a battle between Boston and Chicago for the fifth slot in the AL. The whole thing between San Francisco, San Diego and Atlanta would have been totally academic.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.