HBT Weekend Wrapup


Things you missed this weekend while you made checklists of all of the stuff you’re going to need to do to prepare for your ten-day trip to Arizona which begins on Wednesday:

  • Domonic Brown is probably going to be the Phillies’ starting right fielder, but Cholly would like him to sweat a bit before handing him the job;
  • Michael Young showed up to Rangers’ camp.  Sadly, everyone was professional about it (well, mostly). I had really been hoping that Young would throw crap all over the floor and knock over furniture, after which Vernon Wells would talk about how it’s such a shame that the Rangers don’t keep their clubhouse clean and tidy.
  • Miguel Cabrera needs a doctor’s signoff before he can start spring training. Apropos of his patient, the doctor came in, stinking of gin, and proceeded to lie on the table.
  • The Madoff bankruptcy is going after Tim Teufel too.  Quick! Someone tell me if Irving Picard is a righty or a lefty so we can see if Wally Backman can be of any use here.
  • Garrett Wittels’ 56-game hitting streak ended. Buy hey, look on the bright side Garrett: you still have that rape trial to look forward to.
  • Brett Tomko signed a deal.  So did Matt Belisle. The former broke into the bigs in 1997 and the latter in 2003, but if you asked me in an unguarded moment, I’d guess that each one of them has been pitching for approximately 124 years.
  • I hope you’re sitting down for this: Scott Boras is probably going to be the agent for the #1 overall pick this summer.
  • Mark Teixeira calls the Yankees underdogs. Fair enough: if you consider the AL East to be a two-team race, sure, they’re underdogs.  But if the Yankees go on to win the World Series, I will not tolerate any “no one believed in us” talk, because that’s a bridge too damn far.
  • Hunter Pence beat the Astros in his arbitration hearing. It was the last arbitration of the year.  Which is nice, because now I don’t have to listen to anyone talk nonsense about “midpoints” again. Sure, fine: most arbitrations that settle do so around the midpoint between the player and the team’s offers.  But just because one settles below or above the midpoint doesn’t mean a player “won” or “lost” when he settles, as I’ve seen some people say.  Knowing that most of these things settle and knowing that most settle around the midpoint, won’t the player attempt to come up with a higher number and the team lower than they might otherwise do?  As such, hearing that a player settled below or above the midpoint doesn’t mean anything. A below-the-midpoint settlement may be a win for the player who never figured he’d get what he asked for.  Oh well, who cares? Arbitration is kind of boring to me to be honest and I’m glad it’s over.
  • Jimmy Rollins predicted that the Phillies will win 100 games.  I sure hope no one made a big deal out of this. I mean, (a) the Phillies are good, so even if you are conservative and acknowledge that it’s hard to win 100 games, it’s not like 100 is an absurd number; and (b) it’s Jimmy Rollins and confidence is kind of his thing.  Someone wake me up when a meek player on a crappy team predicts 100 wins. Better yet, someone tell me when someone on the Pirates says “If we win 60, I’ll be shocked, because we’re really crappy.”
  • Kevin Millwood to the Yankees: Drop Dead.  Well, he didn’t really say that, but I’d like the Post to drag that one out again.
  • I don’t think there has been a time in history when more ink was spilled over a player showing up on his reporting date.  And who cares about early?  I used to work with a guy at the Ohio State bookstore who would come in early every day. He’d sit on the loading dock and smoke until everyone else got there. Didn’t really change the game any.
  • Alex Rodriguez lost ten pounds this winter.  Just like A-Rod to do something so selfish and embarrassing. God, when will he stop trying to be the center of attention?
  • Brandon Webb had two years of trouble with his shoulder. Then when he came back at the very end of last season, he couldn’t throw it anywhere near normal velocity. Now he’s having shoulder problems. I sure hope no one is surprised about this.  People freak when they hear about Tommy John surgery, but way more guys come back from that than serious shoulder problems.
  • Cliff Lee has a mild strain in his side. This is not a repeat from 2007 or 2010.

Sorry to rub it in about my trip to the desert. But press registration for the fabulous Cactus League is already underway, and I have to get there by Wednesday to claim my sound-proof suite. A fashionable sporting website in New York has taken care of the reservations … and I am, after all, a professional journalist; so I have an obligation to cover the story, for good or ill.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.