Denny McLain is the best. Yes he won 31 games in 1968 and back-to-back Cy Youngs in ’68 and ’69, but according to a 1970 Sports Illustrated story he also cost the Tigers a pennant in 1967 when, in late September, he suffered broken toes at the hands of bookies to whom he owed $46,000. He was slated to pitch on the final day of the season, pitched ineffectively and the Tigers missed their shot at the Red Sox in a one-game playoff for the ’67 pennant.
That was a tough break for Denny. And maybe his side of that story puts his broken toes in a totally different context. But I do know this much: when you have had that story floating around you unchallenged for 40 years, you are not in the position to be calling out someone for letting their team down during the home stretch. Almost anyone else can, but not you.
But hey, Denny is nothing if not shameless. Here he is talking to the Free Press about Jhonny Peralta:
“I would love to see him hang in there for the ballclub’s sake,” McLain said in a telephone interview with the Free Press. “He is more concerned with next year, starting clean, rather than helping the club this year. Everything’s about him. It’s not about the team. It’s not about the playoffs. It’s not about the World Series. It’s pure selfishness.”
I’ll give McLain credit for later saying that Peralta might be a good kid who took a wrong turn — McLain knows an awful lot about that — but man, I can’t think of anyone in less of a position to call out Peralta for not putting his team first.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.
Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.
The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.
Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.