Fielder_Prince

Two tidbits from Buster Olney’s “evaluators”

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I read Buster Oleny’s column every day. It’s handy, as he links the great bulk of the day’s major stories. And while I don’t always agree with Buster’s take on things, I think he gets stuff right more often than a lot of the other big national guys do when they take off their reporter’s hat and think about the issues of the day.

Buster also seems pretty ego-free, and I get the sense that I’d enjoy sitting down for a beer with him more than I would the other handful of guys with whom he competes. Assuming he drinks beer. I’ve been to two Winter Meetings now, and I don’t recall him hobnobbing in the hotel lobby with the rest of us lushes, so maybe not. No matter.

Anyway, one of the things that has amused me lately about Buster’s column is that he uses the term “evaluator” all the time when referring to his sources. Maybe he’s done this a while, but I’m just noticing it. I’m pretty sure he used to use “scouts,” but now it’s “evaluator.” Probably pretty handy because you can include GMs and others farther up the chain with the same anonymous description. Although to be honest, part of me wants to think that it’s just Buster adding flair to the title, because I like the idea of the extremely straightforward Olney adding flair for no real reason.

Today there are two “evaluator” notes in his column that caught my eye. The first:

One evaluator loves the work he has seen out of Prince Fielder this spring, saying that Fielder is playing very hard and hustling.

Note to those who keep score of such things: a non-white, non-middle-infielder was described as “hustling.” That should bring the score to 1,345,224 to 2.  Also:

A rival evaluator stationed in Arizona thinks that the worst team he has seen this spring is the Diamondbacks. “They just don’t have a lot (of talent) over there,” he said.

I think the “stationed in Arizona” part is key, because I can’t see how the Pirates aren’t going to be the worst team in baseball this year.  Though, yeah, as far as the Arizona teams go, I think he probably has a point about the Diamondbacks

Max Scherzer still can’t throw fastballs

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals works against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.

The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.

Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.

The Dodgers asked the Tigers about Justin Verlander this offseason

DETROIT, MI - MAY 18: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches during the first inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on May 18, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.

It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.

Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.

The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.

So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.