Today is special for so many reasons. Tenth anniversary of the Varitek-A-Rod brawl and . . . the 50th birthday of the best hitter in at least the last half-century:
Note: on the day of that brawl, Bonds was an over-the-hill 40-year-old ballplayer who was hitting .362/.613/.769. And at that point of the season he was actually underperforming his full-season level of production, which was /362/.609/.812. Glad to see he got his power up over the last two months of the season.
In other news, three players are being inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday. Two of them were clearly inferior to Bonds and the third — Greg Maddux — may have been depending on whether you’re comparing them against the values of their hitting/pitching peers or whether you’re comparing them to each other (Maddux may have been the Bonds of pitchers for a time, but Bonds was objectively more valuable to the teams he played for). Oh, and at least one of the three managers being inducted into the Hall on Friday had a healthy assist from PED users to achieve what he achieved. The other two almost certainly benefitted as well.
Happy Birthday, Barry!!
Scott Kazmir won’t begin the regular season in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Manager Dave Roberts said after Kazmir’s Cactus League outing on Sunday that it “doesn’t make sense” for the ailing Kazmir to break camp in the rotation, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. The lefty will instead rehab some more and join the rotation at a later time.
Kazmir has been battling a hip issue which has caused his mechanics to suffer. He was clocked in the low 80’s 10 days ago and wasn’t much better on Sunday afternoon.
Last season with the Dodgers, Kazmir posted a 4.56 ERA with a 134/52 K/BB ratio in 136 1/3 innings, his worst numbers since returning to the majors in 2013.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that Robert Gsellman has won the No. 4 spot in the Mets’ starting rotation. He adds that the Mets are likely to play things cautiously with lefty Steven Matz. The fifth and final rotation spot will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo.
Gsellman, 23, has had a great spring. The right-hander has allowed three earned runs on 15 hits and four walks with nine strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings. That is on the heels of seven solid starts at the end of the 2016 season during which he yielded 12 earned runs on 40 hits and 12 walks with 40 strikeouts in 41 innings.
Matz, 25, is dealing with irritation in his left elbow. He had surgery in October to remove a bone spur and was a Tommy John patient several years ago. It sounds like the Mets are leaning towards having him start the season on the disabled list.
Wheeler, 26, isn’t having a great spring. He’s surrendered seven runs in 7 1/3 innings. Lugo has given up three earned runs in seven spring innings and also looked solid in the World Baseball Classic although he took the loss in the final against the United States.