middlebrooks getty

Will Middlebrooks aggravates right wrist in spring game


Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks was removed from Wednesday night’s Grapefruit League game against the Orioles because of what is currently being termed “right wrist soreness.”

Middlebrooks appeared to injure the wrist while taking a swing at a high-and-tight fastball in the first inning. He met with trainers near the Red Sox dugout and then spiked his batting helmet in apparent frustration before disappearing into the clubhouse.

Middlebrooks missed the final two months of the 2012 season with a right wrist fracture. And it’s pretty clear that whatever happened tonight at the Orioles’ complex in Sarasota, Florida is related.

The Red Sox will reevaluate him Thursday morning.

Middlebrooks, 24, batted .288/.325/.509 with 15 home runs and 54 RBI over his first 75 major league games last year. Boston’s options to replace him at the hot corner are … umm … Pedro Ciriaco and Brock Holt.


UPDATE, 9:44 PM: According to Tim Britton of the Providence Journal, Middlebrooks said after the game that he is not in pain and that no X-rays are scheduled because he has strength in his right hand. “It’s not as serious as we thought it was,” the young third baseman told reporters. “It was just a scare.”

UPDATE, 10:13 PM: Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe says Middlebrooks is aiming to take batting practice on Thursday and that the tweak he felt might have been scar tissue getting jarred.

Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon

I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.

First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.