It’s moot because (a) Mariano Rivera doesn’t play baseball for a living anymore; and (b) even if he did, Robinson Cano doesn’t play for the Yankees anymore. But if you think those two little facts are going to get in the way of these quotes from Rivera’s new book blowing up big, you’re not familiar with the Red Sox-Yankees Industrial Complex.
“This guy has so much talent I don’t know where to start . . . There is no doubt that he is a Hall of Fame caliber (player). It’s just a question of whether he finds the drive you need to get there. I don’t think Robby burns to be the best … You don’t see that red-hot passion in him that you see in most elite players.”
Then, on Dustin Pedroia:
“Nobody plays harder, gives more, wants to win more. He comes at you hard for 27 outs. It’s a special thing to see. If I have to win one game, I’d have a hard time taking anybody over Dustin Pedroia as my second baseman.”
Others in and around the Yankees have questioned Cano’s motivation and effort in the past and Pedroia has long been praised for his passion and intensity and all of that. Obviously they’re both great players, each has proven that if they’re your starting second baseman you can win a World Series and debates will rage for years about who was better. Personally, I’d take Cano’s durability and production over Pedroia’s, I’d take Pedroia’s contract over Cano’s and if I had one game to pick only one to be in there I’d wonder how in the hell that set of impossible and hypothetical circumstances came to be.
But such nuances are lost when it comes to this sort of thing. I expect reporters to try to put both Cano and Pedroia on the spot about this. I expect it to be portrayed as a big controversy as opposed to some mildly interesting comments in the course of a long book and I expect at least one sort of outraged and ridiculous column to come of it assassinating one of the three principles’ character in all of this. Maybe two.
Put simply: I expect this to go like every other silly Yankees-Red Sox dustup. Which is OK, because those are kind of fun.
Report: MLB, union making progress on new slide rule at second base
After Ruben Tejada suffered a fractured right fibula on a takeout slide from Chase Utley during the playoffs, there was momentum for a new rule about slides at second base. We haven’t heard much about it since the Owners’ Meetings in November, but ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that talks between MLB and the players’ union are making progress and a change is expected for the 2016 season.
The exact wording of the new rule is still unclear, but Olney hears that there’s a focus toward “ensuring that sliding runners either touch the base or make an effort to touch the base.” Below are some more details:
Sources said that in the union’s internal discussions, players made it clear they had been taught since they first began playing baseball to go into second base with the intent of breaking up double-play attempts. Although the union wants to improve safety for middle infielders, it does not want to eliminate players’ aggressiveness on slides or the ability to break up a double play.
However, there is a desire on both sides to eliminate slides on which a baserunner goes beyond the effort to reach second to make contact with middle infielders.
There’s already a rule in place for a situation like we saw with Utley, but it’s rarely, if ever, enforced. It’s unfortunate that Tejada’s fractured fibula had to be the catalyst for change or clarification with the rules, but hopefully this will result in fewer injuries in the future. Similar to the “Buster Posey Rule” for plays at home plate, get ready for life with the “Chase Utley Rule.”
Here’s the video of the Tejada/Utley play:
And here’s the video of another high-profile play from 2015 which resulted in a torn lateral meniscus and a fractured tibia for Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang:
UPDATE: Jason Beck of MLB.com confirms that it’s a two-year, $18.5 million deal.
8:00 p.m. ET: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with outfielder J.D. Martinez by agreeing to a two-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved, but Robert Murray of Baseball Essential reported earlier today that he was hearing rumblings about a two-year, $18.5 million deal.
Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million by the Tigers when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. There has been some talk about a long-term extension, but we heard last week that the two sides were discussing both one- and two-year deals. This new deal will buy out Martinez’s final two years of arbitration, so as of now, he’s still on track to go into free agency after 2017.
After a breakout 2014, Martinez batted .282 with 38 home runs and an .879 OPS over 158 games last season.
Veteran reliever Eric O'Flaherty is coming off the worst season of his career, but there’s still plenty of interest in a bounceback, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that he’s deciding between four teams and “should sign a deal by the weekend.”
You really can’t sugarcoat O’Flaherty’s 2015. The 31-year-old was flat-out bad, posting an 8.41 ERA and 21/18 K/BB ratio over 30 innings of work between the Athletics and Mets. Opposing batters hit .343/.427/.482 against him. I keep going back to check if that’s a misprint, but nope, it’s real. He also missed some time with shoulder inflammation. On the bright side, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reported last month that O’Flaherty feels healthy and believes that he has fixed his mechanics.
O’Flaherty’s career has veered off track since Tommy John surgery in 2013, but he has enjoyed plenty of success in the past and throws from the left side. He’s the kind of guy who will continue to get chances.
Veteran outfielder Roger Bernadina has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Mets that includes an invitation to spring training.
Bernadina was a semi-regular for the Nationals from 2010-2012, but never developed as much as hoped offensively and didn’t play in the majors at all last season.
At age 32 he’s a career .236 hitter with a .661 OPS in 548 games as a big leaguer and given the Mets’ outfield depth–they already have Alejandro De Aza and Juan Lagares in bench/part-time roles–Bernadina seems likely to begin the season in the minors.