Sorry, I saw Susan Slusser’s headline from her piece on Jarrod Parker — “A’s Parker shaped by happenstance …” — and that’s the first thing I thought of.
That aside, it’s a good piece about Parker, his brother and growing up in baseball. Fun anecdotes and that sort of thing. And this:
Justin and Jarrod played all over the diamond, and that meant volunteering at pitcher occasionally.
“I was just messing around at the end of my freshman year, and a varsity guy was watching and said, ‘I think we’re going to get you on the mound a few times,’ ” Jarrod said. In his repertoire then: a since-retired knuckleball.
Whoever told Parker to quit throwing a knuckleball should be tried for high crimes.
Seriously: there was a time when a ton of pitchers had a knuckleball they could use on occasion. It didn’t make them “knuckleballers.” It was just a pitch that they had. A little dipsy-doodle they could whip out on occasion to keep hitters off balance. I have no idea why no one does that anymore.
My guess: some conventional wisdom about how throwing three knuckleballs a week totally screws up a pitcher’s mechanics or something. But there’s so much baseball conventional wisdom that isn’t all that wise, I wonder if there’s any real truth to that.
Anyway: whip out the knuckleball again, Jarrod. For the kids.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.