Jayson Stark spoke with a major league general manager — we don’t know which one — who had a couple of interesting things to say about the length of the season and player stamina and all of that. The upshot: the GM thinks the season is too long, players can’t handle it, and it needs to be shortened.
What’s more, he cites teams’ use of the disabled list as evidence of this. Check it out:
“The season’s too long. Guys can’t handle it. In fact, you’d be amazed how many of these DLs are just teams covering for guys who can’t handle it. This isn’t just about guys not being able to handle it physically. Guys can’t handle it mentally. They need mental breaks to regroup.”
The GM goes on to recommend a number of changes to the schedule, including lopping off games, mandatory off days each week and stuff like that in order to keep players fresh. Stark suggests that the fact that players don’t take greenies anymore has something to do with all of this.
I have no idea what kind of toll being a professional athlete takes on one’s body and one’s mind. But if this is as bad as the GM makes it out to be, I would think before you go proposing that the schedule be shortened — which will never happen due to the financial impact — you’d consider proposing a couple extra roster spots so as to give managers the ability to give guys a day off once in a while. This would be especially important for position players who, once upon a time, had more backups on the team but don’t anymore because people have decided that they need 13 guys on the pitching staff.
File this all under “interesting, but what the hell can you really do about it, practically speaking?”
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.