There’s a story in the Detroit Free Press about Ian Kinsler’s dissatisfaction with his stolen base totals from last year. He swiped only 15 bases and was caught 11 times. The former total was his lowest since his rookie season, the latter total was his highest ever. He discusses the reasons for why this was in the article and they make sense.
It’ll be interesting to see if, as Kinselr wishes, he’ll be able to improve on that now that he’s in Detroit. The Tigers were dead last in all of baseball last season in both stolen bases (35) and stolen base attempts (55). This despite having putative speedy fellows like Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter and Jose Iglesias in the lineup. Of course, they also had Jim Leyland at the helm, not Brad Ausmus, and Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera in the lineup and neither of those are guys who you (a) want running; or (b) want to take the bat out of their hands by running when they’re up.
Maybe the Tigers run more under Ausmus. And with Fielder gone — and the speedy Rajai Davis around — you have to figure that they will attempt more than 55 steals. Still, it seems unlikely to me that the Tigers — who were second in the AL in runs per game, after all — are going to radically change their approach. So while Kinsler should wind up with more than 15 steals, I wouldn’t expect a return to 30.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Cubs have signed pitcher Brett Anderson to a contract, pending a physical. Anderson, apparently, impressed the Cubs during a bullpen session held in Arizona recently. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the deal is for $3.5 million, but incentives can bring the total value up to $10 million.
Anderson, 28, has only made a total of 53 starts and 12 relief appearances over the past five seasons due to a litany of injuries. This past season, he made just three starts and one relief appearance, yielding 15 runs on 25 hits and four walks with five strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings. The lefty dealt with back, wrist, and blister issues throughout the year.
When he’s healthy, Anderson is a solid arm to have at the back of a starting rotation or in the bullpen. The defending world champion Cubs aren’t risking much in bringing him on board.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.
What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.
The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.
Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.