Jon Paul Morosi, who has openly used this year’s season previews as fodder to troll people, last night threw out the biggest hate-bait possible: picking the Royals to win the AL Central.
His rationale: “The rotation is vastly improved, the bullpen is deep, and young stars Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer are ready to flourish.” Then he drops a reference to a couple of surprise teams in the past few years and essentially says “why not the Royals?” His argument for the Tigers to fall to second: they have a closer-by-committee. As if Bruce Rondon’s presence on the roster would have pushed them into first place otherwise.
Look, you can either take predictions seriously or you can treat them as the meaningless but sometimes fun and time-killing guesswork that they are. We at HBT prefer the latter tack so we’re not exactly in a position to hurl scorn on someone who makes what most people feel are silly predictions. I mean, this isn’t serious, all-important business like the World Baseball Classic or anything.
But Morosi’s trolling tone aside, it feels like he takes them somewhat seriously. Anyone who makes a point to remind people of previously correct predictions as he does at the outset of the column (while conveniently forgetting some of his poor predictions) is clearly not doing it solely for the yuks. And if you take your predictions seriously, you’re sort of obligated to own them later if and when they fail to be borne out by events.
So let’s all bookmark this column, shall we? Because if the Royals somehow fail to beat out the Tigers, we’ll want to remind ourselves of why Morosi is spending so much time eating crow over how things turned out. Because he will do that, right?
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.