Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker is one of the absolute best in the business. You don’t keep that job when you’re pushing 80 unless you are. But it’s also a hard job as far as travel and grind goes, and that grind doesn’t wear so well on an 80 year-old either. Uecker knows this and told Newsradio WTMJ 620 that he will be cutting back on road games for first time during 2014 season.
He’ll still do all home games and, if he follows the Vin Scully pattern, will likely do in-division road games to avoid the long flights. In fact he tells WTMJ that he talked to Scully and Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman about how to structure a schedule that keeps him fresh. He also added, however, that it’s a fluid process and if the Brewers are in contention or something down the stretch he’d do more road games so he could be there for important games.
At this point it’s worth noting that Uecker is fantastic. He’s definitely worth getting an MLB.tv subscription just so you can listen to some Brewers games. They’re enjoyable even if you don’t like the Brewers. He’s just got the rhythm and the tone of baseball games on the radio down so perfect. Very few are able to pull that off like he does.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.