Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post spoke with Stephen Strasburg recently, and Strasburg said something that — though no one has really mentioned it — seems super obvious the minute Strasburg says it:
I just need to keep working to get into a routine to where it’s just auto-pilot. Answer the bell every fifth day. Kind of just get into the monotony of it, not really focusing on, like, ‘Oh, here’s his next start, Strasburg strikes again’ or whatever. It’s a ton of starts that you get in the big leagues. It’s a long road. It’s a grind. That’s kind of what I’m looking forward to. It’s still kind of the whole atmosphere of like, all the hype and stuff when I’m pitching.”
It’s true that every one of his starts has been a big event. And that’s kind of nuts. Even the top flight starters in baseball don’t get that treatment. Guys like CC Sabathia are allowed to just do their thing, with most of us looking up after a month of not paying attention to see that he has logged six starts, 43 innings and struck out a ton of dudes, all while getting the work of the season under his belt.
You can’t really quantify how stuff like “there are 15 extra reporters here and several thousand flashbulbs popping every time I pitch” affects a guy’s performance and preparation. But it’d be silly to think it has no effect. How lucky Strasburg will be when he gets a chance to simply be a joe jobber in the middle of June at some point.
The Phillies have signed free agent outfielder Michael Saunders.
Saunders was an All-Star in 2016 due to his wonderful start, but he cratered in the second half of the season. Overall is numbers looked good — he hit 24 homers and posted a line of .253/.338/.478, but his second half line was .178/.282/.357 in 58 games. He’s not the best defender around either.
The Phillies could use him, however, and if he has another red hot first half, there’s a decent chance they could flip him if they wanted to.
It was first reported that the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista were close to a deal last night. Now Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is near completion. It will likely a two-year contract in the $35-40 million range.
Bautista had a tough 2016, hitting .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI, and some clubs likely considered a long-term deal for the 36-year-old too risky, this leading to the relative lack of reported interest in Bautista by other clubs. But back-to-back ALCS appearances by the Jays and the success and popularity Bautista has experienced in Toronto make his re-signing there a pretty sensible move for all involved.
The Jays, who already lost Edwin Encarnacion to free agency, get their slugger back on a short term deal. Unlike anyone else, they don’t have to give up the draft pick attached to him via the qualifying offer. Bautista, in turn, will make, on average, more than he would’ve made on the qualifying offer if he would’ve accepted it and a raise over the $14 million he made in 2016.