On a slow news day, I hit “refresh” on my gmail inbox every ten seconds, waiting for the near-daily MLB drug suspension press release to come in. And today we have a troika:
Free agent Minor League right-handed pitcher Frank Diaz has been suspended for 50 games without pay after testing positive for metabolites of Stanozolol. The suspension of Diaz will be effective immediately upon his signing with another Major League organization.
Cincinnati Reds Minor League third baseman Ernest Vasquez and right-handed pitcher James Walczak have each been suspended for 50 games without pay after testing positive for an Amphetamine. The suspensions of Vasquez and Walczak, who are currently on the roster of the Single-A Dayton Dragons of the Midwest League, will be effective at the start of next season.
Frank Diaz — assuming it’s the same Frank Diaz — has been in the Mexican League since 2009, so I’m not sure when he’s been testing. But he was once an Expos minor leaguer, and that’s retro-cool!
I had trouble tracking down Ernest Vazquez. Baseball-Reference.com has a Niko Vasquez with an a/k/a of Ernest in the Reds organization. Let’s assume that’s him, even though he didn’t play for Dayton this season. If not, apologies to Niko.
James Walczak — listed as Jamie — is a 15th rounder whose pitching lines suggest that the Painesville, Ohio product may not see much beyond the bright lights of Dayton, so I suppose his using was understandable.
Anyway, who’s calculating their WAR to determine how many wins to deduct from the Dayton Dragons, Rojos del Aguila de Veracruz and whatever the hell team Vazquez played for this year?
UPDATE, 12:07 p.m. EDT: The Royals have confirmed reports of Yordano Ventura’s death with an official statement. No further details pertaining to the accident have been divulged.
Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.
Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.
Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.
Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.