Is it good form for a player to publicly question his manager’s lineup? Nope. Not at all. But Bryce Harper did it and, for the most part, was criticized in a proportionate manner. And of course the Nats are winning right now, so that makes things better.
Still, I feel like we’re going to be seeing hot takes about Harper not knowing his place for a while. Jason Reid of the Washington Post has one today. A few days after the fact, of course. And, more importantly, a few days after the Harper-Williams tiff — to the extent you can call it a tiff — had been resolved. If you don’t believe me, read Adam Kilgore’s story from the same Washington Post running Reid’s hot take:
The swirl of opinion and controversy crackled and hummed Tuesday afternoon, surfacing on television screens, blaring out of radios, murmuring in clubhouses across the league. While so many were talking about them, Bryce Harper and Matt Williams — the two figures at the center of the attention— sat down at Nationals Parks and talked to each other.
Kilgore — who, unlike Reid, covers the Nats on a daily basis — is the guy to go to for what’s actually going on. And to read his story is to realize that, an ill-advised comment notwithstanding, Williams and Harper are basically good with one another and the tiff, or whatever, is over.
At least with the people who matter. If the Nats do anything other than win the NL East and make a deep playoff run I presume some tourist who doesn’t cover the Nats that often will swoop in with some “the seeds of the Nationals’ failure were sewn back in late June . . .” take. Because that’s how this stuff usually works.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.