Periodic Table

Chemistry Watch: The Giants and Marlins claim to have it

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Ah, team chemistry. The ultimate example of post hoc ergo propter hoc in baseball. We always credit winning teams with having it after the fact and, in most cases, attribute the actual winning to the chemistry. And if you try to fight against that you get a million people saying, in effect, “scoreboard!”

With that in mind, Brandon Belt had this to say when asked about all the moves the Dodgers made in the offseason:

When Belt was asked about the free-spending Los Angeles Dodgers, he replied, to a thunderous ovation, “All I can say is, you can’t buy chemistry.” That statement will be sure to end up on a few blue bulletin boards.

Hey, if you want to say that the Giants won two of the past three World Series because of team chemistry as opposed to good pitching, timely hitting and a roster full of talented ballplayers that’s your prerogative. I’m eager to see you show me exactly what it was about those teams that evidences good chemistry that was not a product of, as opposed to a cause of, winning. But you can credit chemistry all you want.

But maybe we don’t need that. Maybe we’ll have an actual example of a team with great chemistry that is not attributable to winning: the Miami Marlins, who Joe Capozzi writes are all about character and chemistry and all of that stuff going forward. And character matters! Just ask coach Tino Martinez:

Although the 2013 Marlins are young and inexperienced, new hitting coach Tino Martinez said he sees parallels with the New York Yankees team he played on that won the 1996 World Series.

“We didn’t have a lot of superstars. We had a young Derek Jeter, a young Bernie Williams, a young Andy Pettitte. We had a great group of guys who worked hard every day,” Martinez said.

Sure. That was all about attitude. It had nothing to do with the fact that the team had no less than three first ballot Hall of Famers on it and multiple other players who either will be in the Hall of Fame or who will stay on Hall of Fame ballots for many years.

Anyway: let’s watch the Marlins’ chemistry all year and see if it maintains on a 90+ loss team. And, if for some reason the Giants don’t make the playoffs this year, let’s make a point to see when, exactly, the chemistry left them.

Orioles re-sign Michael Bourn to a minor league deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a single in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.

Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.

Shelby Miller is in the best mental shape of his life

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 24:  Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.

Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.

So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]

Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.

I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.

Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”

Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.

It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.