A lot of people say that Memorial Day is when you can stop saying “it’s too early” and that the results are finally significant. Some people say Mother’s Day, some a bit later than Memorial Day, but I think most people think of Memorial Day as the time of the season when who is good and who is bad can finally be known for real.
Joe Sheehan notes today, however, that Memorial Day is no longer significant for those purposes:
Just go back a year. None of the four AL teams that led their divisions on the morning of Memorial Day (the AL East featured a two-way tie) would go on to win them. Two would meet in the Coin Flip Game, two others would miss the postseason entirely. Two AL playoff teams were under .500 at the time, and the A’s were nowhere on anyone’s radar. Go back another year, and it’s much the same: half the teams leading divisions would win them, half wouldn’t. MLB has worked very hard over the past 20 years to build a system that allows for maximum mobility between seasons, and they’ve created one that also allows for substantial mobility within them.
Old habits are hard to quit, and I figure that people will still be calling Memorial Day some sort of bellwether for years to come, but the wild card and attendant expansion has killed that, kids.
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The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.
According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.
Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.
While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.
Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.
More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.
Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.