I went on Ted Berg’s Baseball Show over at SNY.TV this afternoon to help Ted scout the Braves in advance of the Mets-Braves series. I used the phrases “atrocious,” “terrible” and “sink hole” to describe the Braves’ play of late, so that was fun. I also made two pretty bad errors:
1. I called Fredi Gonzalez “Freddie Freeman” which is something I’ve been doing while writing since spring training and can’t seem to stop; and
2. I said that the Braves don’t give a long leash to young players. This is patently false and I knew it as soon as I got off the phone with Ted. I had this concept in my brain a couple of years ago for reasons that aren’t clear, and then someone who is not a Braves fan — and thus more objective than me — pointed out to me that I was full of beans. And since then I’ve noticed and appreciated that the Braves do, in fact, give young players a lot of chances, actually, and one need look no further than the presence of Jason Heyward, Freeman, Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters in key positions to realize it.
What I said about Freeman still stands — the Braves have no choice but to stick with him no matter how bad he hits — but why I auto-piloted to that “the Braves keep young players on a short leash” thing is a mystery to me. Just wasn’t thinking. This simply is not the case and hasn’t been for, like, a decade at least, even if it was ever true.
The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.
Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.
The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.
The Pirates and Cardinals will switch things up for Sunday’s series finale, moving from the spacious PNC Park to the renovated Minor League confines of BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field. Normally the home stadium for the Phillies’ Short-Season Single-A Williamsport Crosscutters, Historic Bowman Field will set the stage for an unusual — and unprecedented — matchup between the NL Central rivals as they take the field for the first-ever MLB Little League Baseball Classic.
The game will cap a packed day for Major League and Little League participants alike, as four Little League double-elimination games will be played in the morning and afternoon before the Pirates’ Ivan Nova and Cardinals’ Mike Leake face off at 7:00 PM ET. Despite drawing national attention, the Classic will be invitation-only, and its projected 2,366 attendees will comprise the lowest capacity attendance figure in Major League history.
The event is designed to spark more interest in the sport, especially among young players, and Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny called it “grassroots marketing at its finest.” “We all fell in love with the game and started dreaming about playing on a field like this at the age of these kids we’re going to go see in Williamsport,” he told reporters prior to Sunday’s game. “I hope there are some kids that we can encourage and maybe give a different look of the game and create some lifelong baseball fans that might not have been there otherwise.”
Judging by the excitement that infused the pregame festivities among the players, it looks like they’re already on the right track.