Brewers won’t try to sign impending free agent Shaun Marcum before he hits open market

24 Comments

This time of year there are lots of stories about teams trying to sign free agents-to-be before they hit the open market following the season, but in the Brewers’ case they plan to let Shaun Marcum’s contract expire.

Marcum has one year and $7.725 million left on his deal and general manager Doug Melvin told Adam McCalvy of MLB.com that “we’ll probably let him play the year out.”

According to McCalvy “the Brewers have made no move to engage Marcum in discussions about an extension and that appears unlikely to change.”

Marcum is 30 years old, faded badly down the stretch last season amid concerns about arm problems, and missed time early in camp with a sore shoulder, so it’s tough to blame the Brewers for being hesitant about making a long-term commitment.

For his part, Marcum said that he’d “like to stay” and “won’t close the door, but if they close the door on their end, then it’s closed … there’s not a lot we can do about it.” Not a lot except get healthy, have a strong season, and cash in big as a free agent 30-something starts from now.

Brett Lawrie, whom the Brewers traded for Marcum, is under the Blue Jays’ control through 2017.

Major League Baseball orders balls stored in climate controlled rooms for some reason

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated reports that Major League Baseball will mandate that teams store baseballs in “an air-conditioned and enclosed room[s]” this season. He adds that the league will install climate sensors in each room to measure temperature and humidity during the 2018 season, with such data being used to determine if humidors — like the ones being used in Colorado and Arizona — are necessary for 2019.

This move comes a year after Major League Baseball’s single season, league-wide home run record was shattered, with 6,105 dingers being hit. It also comes after a year in which two different studies — one by Ben Lindbergh and Mitchel Lichtman for The Ringer, and another by FiveThirtyEight’s Rob Arthur — found evidence that baseballs were altered at some point around the middle of the 2015 season which coincided with home run numbers spiking in the middle of that year, quite suddenly.

Also coming last year: multiple player complaints about the baseball seeming different, with pitchers blaming a rash of blister problems stemming from what they believed to be lower seams on the baseballs currently in use than those in use in previous years. Players likewise complained about unusually smooth and/or juiced baseballs during the World Series, which some believe led to a spike of home runs in the Fall Classic.

To date, Major League Baseball has steadfastly denied that the balls are a problem, first issuing blatantly disingenuous denials,  and later using carefully chosen words to claim nothing was amiss. Specifically, Major League Baseball claimed that the balls were within league specifications but failed to acknowledge that league specifications are wide enough to encompass baseballs which could have radically different flight characteristics while still, technically, being within spec.

Based on Verducci’s report, it seems that MLB is at least past the denial stage and is attempting to understand and address the issues about which many players have complained and which have, without question, impacted offense in the game:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that MLB commissioned a research project after last season to study the composition, storage and handling of the baseballs. He said that investigation is not yet completed. “I’m not at the point to jump that gun right now,” he said about the findings.

The investigation is not yet completed, but the fact that the league is now ordering changes in the manner in which balls are handled before use suggests to me that the league has learned that there is at least something amiss about the composition or manufacture of the baseballs.

Major League Baseball is a lot of things, but quick to impose costs and changes of process on its clubs like this is not one of them. There is likely a good reason for it.