The Pirates made Daniel Moskos the fourth overall pick in the 2007 draft, selecting him ahead of Matt Wieters, Jarrod Parker, Madison Bumgarner and Jason Heyward, among others. Five years and 24 1/3 major league innings later, he’s now a member of the White Sox organization after being claimed off waivers.
The selection of Moskos was viewed by most as a mistake right off the bat. In their defense, the Pirates knew Wieters was a better prospect; they just didn’t want to pay the price for him. Instead, they went for what they felt was the best available college pitcher. Unfortunately, there was really no right answer with that strategy. Other than David Price, who went first overall, none of the college pitchers taken in the first round that year have been successes. Ryan Detwiler is the best of the bunch. The supplemental round had Cory Luebke go 63rd overall. Jordan Zimmermann went at the top of the second round.
Moskos ended up bouncing back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen in the minors. He surfaced in the majors as a reliever last year and amassed a 2.96 ERA in 24 1/3 innings. However, that came with just 11 strikeouts and a 1.56 WHIP. He didn’t make the team out of spring training this season, and he was viewed as the most expendable player on the 40-man roster when the Pirates needed to make an addition earlier this week.
In Chicago, Moskos will get to work with Don Cooper, who has helped turn fellow first-round disappointments Gavin Floyd, Matt Thornton and Philip Humber around. He probably has less to work with in this case, but the White Sox must see some potential in his left arm.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.