We’re going to have a lot of Small Sample Size Theater this week. Stuff we observe during the season’s infancy that, while unsustainable and probably meaningless in the grand scheme of things, is fun to observe all the same. One of the first things that fit this bill in 2011 is the Royals’ relievers, particularly the rookies down in that pen.
Aaron Crow, Tim Collins and Nate Adcock have combined for eight innings of shutout relief in Kansas City’s first four games. Collins and Crow have struck out 11 guys between them. I got a chance to watch both Crow and Collins pitch over the weekend and I was most impressed with Crow’s fantastic, moving fastball. Collins, who is 5’7″ and that may be stretching it, is really fun too thanks to that delivery of his which kind of makes him look like the love child of Gene Garber and Tim Lincecum. Add in the always-dominant Joakim Soria’s three scoreless innings thus far and the Royals have themselves a nice pen.
There’s a beauty in watching a team with no immediate expectations. If you don’t get too bogged down on the negatives, you can find yourself pleasantly surprised by parts of it in isolation. Indeed, I’d argue that you can enjoy stuff like nice relief pitching on a less-than-competitive team more than you can on a contender because it’s easier to divorce it from the whole and not worry about the implications of it all so much.
Put differently, the Royals’ bullpen — for now anyway — is art for art’s sake, and that is often the most enjoyable art there can be.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.