Like a kid checking out a dead frog with a sharp stick, I presume.
ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark reported Thursday that the Orioles are now shying away from Matt Garza and are “poking around on” Seattle’s Jason Vargas as they attempt to upgrade their starting pitching.
Hopefully, this is nothing more than due diligence. Vargas has been a pretty solid starting pitching for Seattle, but he wouldn’t work in Camden Yards or the AL East. Vargas has a 5.09 ERA outside of Safeco this year and has allowed a whopping 17 homers in 69 innings on the road. Overall, he’s allowed 23 homers, which leads the majors by three. Just his road total alone would rank tied for fifth in all of baseball.
Also, look at his career record against American League East teams:
Boston: 1-2, 3.51 ERA
New York: 0-3, 6.55 ERA
Tampa Bay: 1-3, 3.82 ERA
Toronto: 0-3, 6.49 ERA
Overall, he’s 2-11 with a 5.01 ERA against AL East teams other than Baltimore. Just counting the road outings, he’s 1-6 with a 7.08 ERA.
Vargas may not be entirely a Safeco creation — he did have a decent enough 3.79 ERA in 13 road starts last year — but it’s doubtful he’d be more than a fringe fifth starter for an AL East team. Put him in Camden Yards and Orioles fans may start longing for Jake Arrieta again soon enough.
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.