Stephen Strasburg

Stephen Strasburg wants his pitches to look less cool

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There’s a lot of piffle in spring training coverage. The old cliches we make fun of, a lot of empty talk about pitch tipping, adjustment-making, stance-tweaking and, of course, what kind of shape everyone is in. Rare, though, are the spring training stories that make you go “hmm, neat. I hadn’t considered that.”

Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post has one today, however, and it’s about how Stephen Strasburg is making some changes to his pitches. Specifically, he wants them to do what, to casual fans anyway, seems counter-intuitive for a pitcher with the kind of movement Strasburg puts on his pitches: he wants them to move and break less:

The crazy movement can be hell on hitters, of course. But the big breaks in his pitches also make it easier for batters to differentiate between them. When a pitch breaks a lot, it probably starts breaking early, allowing a hitter to follow its path to the plate. Strasburg would prefer to have his pitches move less, but with more purpose.

Just the kind of thing you don’t think about too much. Which makes for a “tweak in the mechanics” story that’s actually interesting and may have some impact on the season.

The Royals are trying to package Wade Davis and Ian Kennedy for some reason

Wade Davis
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Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Kansas City Royals are trying to package Ian Kennedy in a potential Wade Davis deal. I’m not sure why they would do that.

Davis has had a relatively disappointing 2016 season. He strikeouts are down, his walks are up as is his ERA. Relative is the key word, though. After his transcendent 2015 season he had nowhere to go but down. He’s still a solid closer at worst and a dominant game-changer if/when he’s on and healthy. He’s also under team control through next season for a mere $10 million, making him one of the better superstar bargains in the game. The Royals were said to be asking a LOT for Davis, possibly more than the nice haul the Yankees got for Aroldis Chapman given that extra year of control. Maybe they can’t get what they’re shooting for with him, but they could probably get a lot.

Throwing Kennedy into a potential deal, however, obviously radically changes the potential deal. Kennedy has a 4.41 ERA and has allowed 26 homers this year, more than anyone in the game. He’s also on the first year of a five-year $70MM contract that includes an opt-out clause after 2017. It was a bad contract when he signed it and seems worse after four months of the 2016 season. If you want a team to take Kennedy along with Davis, you’re basically asking them to give you little if anything in the way of prospects for Davis. You’re asking them to give you Kennedy-salary relief in exchange for Davis.

Which is a good way to get rid of salary, I suppose, but sure seems like the squandering of historically overheated relief pitcher market which the Royals could take advantage of better than a lot of clubs.

Dee Gordon apologizes, is reinstated from PED suspension

Miami Marlins' Dee Gordon celebrates after hitting a double against the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Miami. Derek Dietrich scored on the double. The Tigers won 8-7. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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The Miami Marlins have reinstated second baseman Dee Gordon from his suspension.

Gordon, of course, has missed the last 80 games while serving his drug suspension. He’s coming off a minor league rehab assignment and will be the everyday second baseman for the contending Marlins. He was hitting .266/.289/.340 with three doubles, two triples, five RBI, 13 runs scored, and six stolen bases in 97 plate appearances when he was popped. He was replaced by Derek Dietrich, who hit a nice .275/.366/.398 with 22 extra-base hits, 30 RBI, and 26 runs scored in 314 PA in Gordon’s absence, so don’t expect a tremendous upgrade at second down the stretch, even if they get a nice upgrade in the utility and depth department.

To make room for Gordon, the Marlins designated utilityman and sometimes hero Don Kelly for assignment. Sad jams.

UPDATE: Gordon issued a video apology on the eve of his reinstatement: