Chris Jaffe at The Hardball Times makes the best lists. No, they may not get the kind of traffic that lists like “the 101 hottest wives and girlfriends of relief pitchers” get, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worthy.
Today’s list: the ten worst career-ending performances of all time. Specifically, the worst final games of guys who were otherwise awesome. No, the list doesn’t purport to make some grand assessment — the fact that Yogi Berra struck out three times in a game in the mid-60s means nothing for him as a player — but it is worth noting that not every Hall of Famer ends his career Ted Williams-style. And it’s kind of fun to remember where some of these dudes ended up playing at the end, both geographically and existentially. Everyone likes to remember Bob Gibson on top of some tall mound in the 1960s. The image of him ending in the mid-70s while wearing double-knits isn’t one that readily computes.
Like with most of Chris’ work, the background and story is more interesting than the list entry itself. What can he do? Dude’s a historian, and that’s just how good historians roll.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.