Gibson homer

Just say no to any neutral site World Series games

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Ken Rosenthal has a good column up today about how baseball’s future is so bright it’s gotta wear shades. Business is booming and looks as though it will continue to boom.  Technology that allows fans to get even more immersed in the game is leading the way to the future, and how the time is now ripe for baseball to build on it.

He only has one misstep — and he admits that it’s a problematic idea — and that’s talking up Scott Boras’ idea of a big World Series Weekend event in which baseball basically stages a party around the kickoff of the World Series in which awards are given out, other fan events are held and — in most constructions of the idea — at least one or two World Series games are played. All at a neutral site.

Which, in my mind, makes the idea a deal breaker.  Neutral site scenarios — most of which are launched when the weather gets nippy in late October — are just awful.  And not just on the grounds of tradition and unfairness to whichever team is losing home games.

As the NFL has taught us, if you have a neutral site event, the certainty of time and place of that event will invite — hell, demand — corporate underwriting. Contest winners, rights partners, advertising partners, and junket junkies will gobble up all the tickets, freezing out season ticket holders for contending teams and/or sending them to stratospheric prices on the secondary market.  The only thing keeping that from happening now — at least en masse — is that no one knows where the games will be until three or four days before they begin. Schedule Game 1 and Game 2 of next year’s World Series for San Diego tomorrow, and you can bet that all of the hotel rooms will be booked by the end of the month.

I don’t care how much money it makes or how much it grows the game (or how much those who stand to make all that money argue that it will grow the game). Baseball should not, under any circumstances, seek to emulate the Super Bowl.  That game has become a giant, overhyped-corpse of an event and I don’t want baseball to have any part in that kind of thing. Under such a scenario, Kirk Gibson hits his homer in the 1988 World Series where? Miami?

I agree that making the awards into an event of some kind would be a good thing. And the All-Star Game could use some help, I think.  But let’s leave the games that count alone.  They’re fine just the way they are.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.