This is from Friday night, but it’s well worth revisiting.
Seems that for the second time this year, Mike Quade was unhappy when a Cubs’ opponent tried to steal a base with a big lead. This time it was Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis, who attempted to steal with an 8-1 lead in the fifth inning. Earlier this year Quade was angry when Brewers’ outfielder Carlos Gomez stole a base with a 6-0 lead late in a game. Quade’s comment: “I probably have to get a copy of the Milwaukee and the Los Angeles unwritten rules books … There might be a Los Angeles and Milwaukee version I need to read.”
Oy vey. Look: I’ll give you your unwritten rules when it comes to matters of etiquette, ethics and professional courtesy like, say, refraining from flipping bats and showboating after a home run. Or batters looking back at the catcher to steal signs. Or even the rules governing beanball wars, even if I think beanball wars are themselves illegitimate.
But please, spare me the stuff about stealing bases when you have a lead. At no time in any game should any perfectly legitimate strategy be considered out-of-bounds. Neither 8-1 nor 6-0 leads are insurmountable. At no time does the losing team cease to use all of the weapons it has at its disposal, so neither should the team with the lead.
But there’s a philosophical point to be made along with the tactical one. Animating Quade’s thinking here is that, hey, the game is over for all practical purposes, so stop trying to win. The next logical step to that is to have Quade throw in the towel and take his losing team off the field. After all, that would be courteous too! It would save a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on the pitchers! It wouldn’t, if you believe Quade, make any difference in the outcome! If the team with the lead is expected to stop trying at some point, why doesn’t the manager of the losing team make it easier for them to do so by clearly noting the exact moment they plan to quit, and then literally quit. If Quade’s not going to do that — and I’m guessing he won’t — he shouldn’t have a problem with Don Mattingly still trying to score runs.
This isn’t Little League. Don’t want A.J. Ellis stealing bases on you, Mike? Have your pitchers hold his butt on the bag, OK?
The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.
Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.
Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.
Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.
So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]
Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.
I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.
Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”
Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.
It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.