Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia responded to the Braves’ recent accusations of stealing signs after being swept in a three-game series in Miami. The Marlins outscored the Braves 23-7, a far cry from the four runs they scored when they lost two of three to the Braves in Atlanta earlier in the week.
Braves starter Aaron Harang, who entered the game with a 0.85 ERA but was hammered for nine runs in 4 2/3 innings, said, “It was baffling, like, where were these guys last week? They were way too comfortable. It seemed like they were all hitting like Ted Williams.”
All Salty can do is laugh. Via MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro:
“I think the Marlins have kind of been a punching bag almost for the past few years, because of things that have happened,” said Saltalamacchia, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday. “It doesn’t bother us, as far as we go. We’ve got to go out there and control what we can control.
“At the same time, as a player, you kind of sit back and laugh a little bit. From my perspective, I like it. I think they’re focusing on the wrong things. For them to focus on what we’re doing, and ‘Are we stealing signs? Are we doing this?’ That means they’re not focusing on what they should be focusing on. That kind of gives us an advantage.”
The Braves are certainly not the only team to accuse an opponent of stealing signs. The Rockies accused the Phillies in 2010. The Yankees accused the Blue Jays in 2011. The Orioles accused the Blue Jays again in 2012. The Athletics accused the Yankees last season. But there’s only so much you can do with stolen signs and the Braves’ series sweep at the hands of the Marlins had much more to do with their own poor performance than any edge allegedly gained by impropriety.
But it’s been a common thread with the Braves lately — of blaming others without introspection. They have become the baseball police, arbiters of fun, deciders of “the right way” to play the game. They can only complain so often before everyone starts to tune them out. Perhaps it’s already begun.
Mets third baseman David Wright missed four months of the 2015 season due to spinal stenosis. In other words, Wright dealt with a narrowing of his spinal column. Going forward, the Mets plan to be cautious with Wright so as not to overuse him.
As ESPN’s Adam Rubin reports, Mets GM Sandy Alderson plans to have the 33-year-old Wright play in no more than 130 games. Alderson said, “We’re gonna make sure that he’s not overworked. So it’s important for us to find somebody who can play 30 games or so at third base when he’s not in there. But I think we have to be realistic, and not expect that he’s gonna be an absolute everyday [player] out there playing 150 or 155 games. That’s not gonna happen.”
Wilmer Flores played 26 games at third base in his rookie season in 2013, so he could back up Wright as needed. But Alderson mentioned that because Wright would mostly sit against right-handed pitchers, the switch-hitting Neil Walker or Asdrubal Cabrera could get the call at the hot corner.
When he was on the field last season, Wright hit a productive .289/.379/.434 with five home runs and 17 RBI in 174 plate appearances.
The Marlins would like to add “another pitcher or two” before pitchers and catchers report to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes. Among starting pitchers available, Kyle Lohse, Aaron Harang, and Alfredo Simon are candidates for the Marlins, but they may hold out for the possibility of inking a major league contract. Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee are other potential candidates, per Frisaro.
This offseason, the Marlins signed Wei-Yin Chen to a five-year, $80 million deal and Edwin Jackson for the major league minimum. The back of the rotation, though, is still a question mark as Jarred Cosart, Adam Conley, and Justin Nicolino will compete with Jackson for two spots. David Phelps is dealing with an elbow injury and may or not be ready by Opening Day, but he could function in a swingman capacity as well.
You might want to sit down for this news. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has tabbed ace Madison Bumgarner to start on Opening Day in Milwaukee against the Brewers, CSN Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic reports. Shocking, I know.
The Giants had a busy offseason, adding Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to the starting rotation, but neither had a shot at getting the Opening Day nod considering what Bumgarner has done for the Giants over the last five seasons.
Since the start of the 2011 season, the 26-year-old lefty compiled a 3.05 ERA with 1,034 strikeouts and 239 walks across 1,050 innings. Among starters who logged at least 800 innings in that span of time, only Clayton Kershaw, Cueto, Zack Greinke, David Price, and Felix Hernandez have posted lower ERAs. And Bumgarner is the only one among them with a championship ring. In fact, he has three.
We’re almost halfway through February. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training soon. And yet, there are more than a handful of solid free agents that remain unsigned. Among them: Yovani Gallardo, Ian Desmond, and Dexter Fowler. All three have draft pick compensation tied to them, as each rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from his respective former team. That, undoubtedly, is a reason why they haven’t inked a contract yet.
MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark is unhappy about this reality and expects to discuss potential changes when the next collective bargaining agreement is negotiated. The current CBA expires after the 2016 season. Per the Associated Press, Clark said last week, “I think it’s disappointing when there are as many talented players still without a home. I don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest to be in a world where very talented players are at home for whatever reason they are there. It will likely be a part of the conversation in bargaining.”
Clark also mentioned, among other things, the possibility of a draft lottery, which would take away the incentive for teams to “tank”, or lose on purpose. The Astros and Phillies have notably done this in recent years, finishing with baseball’s worst record and thus netting the #1 overall draft pick.
These are, however, simply two items of many that will be discussed during the upcoming offseason. It will be interesting to see what solutions are eventually put in place.