The George Lopez Show stuff from the last post inspired an offline conversation with someone who wondered whether people might think that Brian Wilson has gone overboard or jumped the shark or whatever.
To this I have to offer an emphatic no. Wilson may be completely over the top, but I don’t get the sense that he’s putting on some act simply to get noticed. I get the sense that he is truly a goofball, and is simply enjoying himself now that he’s learned that people don’t mind it when he lets his freak flag fly. It would be totally different if he was a phony who was out to get attention. I don’t see that at all.
Not that this will stop someone — be it a blogger, columnist, radio show host or whoever — from soon declaring the shark jumped. That’s just what we do. Indeed, when Brian Wilson loses effectiveness as a closer — as all closers inevitably do — I am 100% certain that someone will write the “perhaps Brian Wilson should have been working on his game more than his act” column. And when I read it I’ll die inside a little.
By its very nature — by virtue of the development process and the kinds of guys who are drawn to it — baseball lends itself to way more conformity than other sports. The stuff Bouton described in “Ball Four” wasn’t just a 1950s-era hangover. There’s a big premium placed on not sticking out. There are more coaches who are ex-players who — accurately or not — will say that when they played things were “done the right way” or whatever. As a result I get why ballplayers are more conservative than their NBA or NFL counterparts.
But there are hundreds of normal workaday ballplayers in the game. There’s usually only one Bill Lee, Mark Fydrich, Jose Lima or Brian Wilson going at any given time. When one of them comes along and adds some color, our lives are better for it.
I hope no one gets their nose out of joint over the George Lopez thing. Or the Showtime Series featuring the Giants that will air later this year. Even if it’s too much for some, it’s enjoyable as hell for a lot of us, so let’s just let it be, OK?
The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.
Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.
Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.
Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.
Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.
Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.
The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”
Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.
Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.
On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.