In previewing the Indians during spring training I wrote about how Terry Francona’s previous teams rarely did much running and suggested that “it’ll be interesting to see if the manager adapts to the skill sets he has on hand” in Cleveland.
Michael Bourn was a big part of that, signing with the Indians after stealing an average of 51 bases per season from 2008-2012. This year, however, Bourn has swiped just 19 bases in 101 games while being caught a league-high 10 times and the Indians as a whole rank sixth in the American League in steals despite having plenty of high-steal players on the roster.
I have no idea how much of that stems from Francona’s general mindset regarding stolen bases, but Bourn’s sudden inability to add value as a runner is pretty interesting in the first year of a four-year, $48 million contract. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer asked Francona about why Bourn isn’t running as much or as effectively, and “in Francona’s opinion pitchers are just paying more attention to Bourn in particular and the running game overall.”
I’m fairly certain that pitchers always paid a lot of attention to Bourn while he was stealing 50-plus bases per season, so that probably qualifies as a non-answer answer.
Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.
Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.
Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.
Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.