We now have a reason to explain why Matt Kemp will improve or regress in 2011

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I do not believe that anyone can know what a ballplayer’s social life means to his on-the-field performance. These aren’t figures of Greek mythology we’re talking about here. Cutting their hair, taking their prized lute, or pairing them up with or separating them from a maiden fair is just as likely to help them as it is to hinder them.  We don’t know.  But no matter what Matt Kemp does in 2011, there will probably be someone who blames or credits this development for it:

Rihanna is single again after splitting from baseball hunk Matt Kemp, according to U.S. reports. Sources tell Us Weekly magazine the couple grew apart and ended its 11-month romance before Christmas.

If he does poorly, people will say that he’s sulking. If he does well, people will say he’s focused again and is finally away from the Hollywood high life.  Nowhere in this will anyone ask how ballplayers do when they break up with their non-famous girlfriends. Because that would be a buzz kill.

I don’t know. Rock stars tend to make better albums when their love life sucks, but the rest of us just start eating poorly and keeping weird hours.  This could go either way, really.

Brad Ausmus seems to know he’s a dead man walking

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The Tigers have been terrible and the embarked on a rebuild this summer, shipping off Justin Verlander and multiple other players. Miguel Cabrera is hurt and may never be his old MVP-level self. It is, without a doubt, that the Tigers and their fans are about to begin a new chapter in the franchise’s history.

Such new chapters usually involve new managers. Fourth-year manager Brad Ausmus is still at the helm and the Tigers have made no public statement about his future. Ausmus, however, is a lame duck, with his contract ending a week from Sunday. He is also no fool. He seems to know very well that he’s not going to be around next year. From Katie Strang of The Athletic:

Ausmus, of course, has been on the hot seat several times. When Detroit exercised his option for this year, their refusal to extend it sent a pretty clear signal.

If this is the end of the road in Detroit for Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager, it will end with him having missed the playoffs in three of his four seasons at the helm of a star-studded team that was expected to Win Now, as they say. Yes, there were a lot of issues with the Tigers — their bullpen has always been a problem and the brass made a lot of questionable choices in signings and trades over the past few years — but there is no escaping the fact that Ausmus’ Tigers under achieved.

Marco Estrada signs a one-year, $13 million deal for 2018

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Marco Estrada and the Blue Jays have agreed to a one-year, $13 million extension with the Blue Jays, reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com. Last night Morosi reported that the sides were near a deal.

This extension is, functionally, like adding a year on to his old deal, which paid him $26 million for the 2016-17 seasons. As Bill noted last night. while the 34-year-old right-hander has a subpar 4.84 ERA on the season, he has a solid 170/67 K/BB ratio in 176.2 innings this year and has improved in the second half.