Jose Canseco is still trying to play baseball

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Jose Canseco is 47 years-old. He spent last summer as a player/manager in the independent Golden League, where he hit .256/.371/427.  But that’s not stopping him: he just signed to play this year for the Quintana Roo Tigers of the Mexican League. The team plays in Cancun, so I guess he’ll at least have some fun while he’s down there.

But fun isn’t what’s on his mind. He sees this as a path back to the majors. His statement:

“I am thrilled to be back in affiliated professional baseball. Playing and managing for the independent league Yuma Scorpions last year really rekindled my love for the game and facing the veteran players in that league made me realize that I can still hit at the major league level. I am grateful that Cancun has given me this opportunity and I hope to help them to a championship season and demonstrate that I can help a big league team.”

I go back and forth between thinking that Canseco’s desire to play in the majors again is pathetic and thinking that’s it kind of sweet in a twisted way. I mean, sure, he’s completely detached from reality, but maybe that detachment is actually the only thing that helps him get through the damn day.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.