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 Mets are currently enjoying the spoils of the best young rotation in the game, but the big question is whether this is just a brief window or the start of sustained success. Given the huge prices on the free agent market, it’s going to be next to impossible to keep the band together, but at least one member of the rotation is open to sticking around for the long-term.
While there haven’t been any talks yet, All-Star right-hander Jacob deGrom told Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that he could see himself discussing an extension with the Mets.
“I’m a little bit older, so I might be more willing to do something like that,’’ deGrom told The Post at Mets pre-camp. “You just have to look at what is fair so both sides get a decent deal. It’s something I’d have to look into and make sure I agree with it.’’
It makes sense from deGrom’s perspective. He broke into the majors later than most prospects, so he’ll be 28 this June. Depending on whether he qualifies as a Super Two, he’ll be arbitration-eligible for the first time after either 2016 or 2017. Either way, he’s under team control through 2020, which means that he’s currently on track to hit free agency after his age-32 season. The market might not be kind to him even if he manages to stay healthy, so it could behoove him to get as much guaranteed money as possible right now. The Mets could always decide to play things year-to-year, but perhaps deGrom would be willing to settle for a discount in order to get them to buy out a free agent year or two. It’s a really interesting situation to think about, but odds are the two sides will wait on contract talks until he’s arbitration-eligible for the first time.
DeGrom owns a 2.61 ERA in 52 starts over his first two seasons in the majors. Among starters, only Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta, and Clayton Kershaw have a lower ERA since the start of 2014.
The Royals and third baseman Mike Moustakas have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $14.3 million deal, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
The deal, which was initially discussed last month, buys out Moustakas’ final two years of arbitration. Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports that it’s believed he’ll make $5.6 million in 2016 and $8.7 million in 2017.
The 27-year-old Moustakas posted an underwhelming .668 OPS over his first four seasons in the majors, but he enjoyed a big postseason in 2014 before breaking out last season by batting .284/.348/.470 with 22 home runs and 82 RBI.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.
Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.
Eric O'Flaherty wasn’t the only reclamation project added by the Pirates today, as the club also announced that they have signed left-hander Cory Luebke to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Luebke once looked like a solid rotation piece for the Padres, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since April 27, 2012. He’s undergone a pair of Tommy John surgeries since. Now 30 years old, he logged seven innings in the minors last season before requiring a procedure to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. The Padres cut ties with him in November after declining a $7.5 million club option for 2016.
It’s hard to count on much from Luebke at this point, but he told Adam Berry of MLB.com that he feels healthy and hopes to compete for a bullpen job in the spring.