Indians' Nick Swisher is congratulated by teammates after home run against Giants during their MLB Cactus League spring training baseball game in Scottsdale

Nick Swisher is not lacking in confidence and intensity, bro


I’m in Goodyear at Indians camp today. I love seeing the Indians people, especially their media relations folks. They’ve always been so nice and accommodating to me. It’s sad, though, that they’re probably going to all be out of a job soon. See, Nick Swisher is on the team now, and with him around there is not much need for public relations. Or season ticket sales people. Or much of anything else.

You see, most teams would like their players to be at a 9 or a 10 when it comes to enthusiasm. Swisher is at a perpetual 17.

I hit the clubhouse at 7:45 and Swisher was marching up and down, coffee in hand, slapping backs, slapping chests, offering up Ric Flair-style “wooo!”s and many, many “bros!” Really, I spoke with Swisher for about three minutes and I got no less than ten “bros.” He’s so excited to be back in Ohio, bro! He’s stoked to be “one of 750 major leaguers, bro!” I mentioned that, like him, I once lived in Parkersburg, West Virginia and he said “I used to live out by the Cracker Barrel on Route 2, bro!” He’s got a daughter on the way. I asked him if he’s still going to be this amped at eight in the morning once the baby arrives and he said he said “don’t bet against me, bro!”

Check him out here:

Thing is, he’s not just like that for video promotions. Jack that up a couple of levels and that’s where he is all the time. I just spoke to Terry Francona and he said about Swisher that “he doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk.”

Walking out of the clubhouse, I ran into some of the team media people. I told them that whatever they’re paying Swisher, it’s not enough. They all agreed. He’s probably paid off his contract in increased season ticket sales already.

Right now Swisher’s energy is exactly what the Indians and their fans need. It’s a totally different thing than this team has seen in years. But I do wonder: what happens once the season begins? What happens if the Tribe loses six of their first eight and Swisher struggles?  Will the intensity lag? Will it stay where it is and rub teammates the wrong way? It’s long season and no one can keep up Swisher’s energy for seven months, can they?

Michael Cuddyer not shining in left field early in NLDS Game 1

Michael Cuddyer
AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek

Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.

Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.

With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.

Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.

Mets take lead during NLDS Game 1 with Daniel Murphy’s solo homer

Daniel Murphy
AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek
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Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning, belting a solo home run to right field at Dodger Stadium off of starter Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw threw a 2-0, 94 MPH fastball and Murphy didn’t miss it.

Both teams’ starters are pitching quite well overall. Kershaw has allowed the one run on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Jacob deGrom started off the game with six consecutive strikeouts and has struck out seven total while blanking the Dodgers on three hits and a walk in three innings.

Kershaw doesn’t have the most impressive post-season track record, owning a career 5.12 ERA across eight starts and three relief appearances spanning 51 innings. Aside from the homer, the lefty appears to be putting that notion aside.

Qualifying offer for free agents set at $15.8 million

Jason Heyward
AP Photo
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Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal reports that the value of a qualifying offer for free agents this off-season has been set at $15.8 million. That represents an increase of a half-million dollars over last year’s value.

This is of particular interest with regards to the big-name free agents, including Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, Yovani Gallardo, Jordan Zimmermann, and Jeff Samardzija.

Teams that make a qualifying offer to a player that ends up being rejected receive a compensation draft pick in the upcoming draft. The team that signs the player who rejected a qualifying offer gives up their earliest non-protected draft pick.

Free agents who had been traded mid-season aren’t eligible to receive a qualifying offer. This includes Yoenis Cespedes, David Price, Johnny Cueto, and Ben Zobrist, among others.

A player has yet to accept a qualifying offer since the QO system was implemented.