Getty Images

USA Today ranks the 100 most powerful people in baseball

26 Comments

USA Today has complied a list of who, based on their assessment, are the 100 most powerful people in baseball. Unlike a lot of lists like these, it’s well-reasoned and not played for laughs. Each entry has a good thumbnail of what role the person in question plays in baseball and why they appear where they do on the list. It’s hard to argue with too much of it, actually.

You will not be surprised that Rob Manfred is at the top of the list. You may be surprised that Sean Forman, the founder and owner of Baseball-Reference.com makes the list at #49. I guess I’m a bit surprised but I’m happy for him. That’s the best site on the Internet. David Appleman, head honcho of FanGraphs is at 62. Viva stat geeks.

The top player: Bryce Harper, at number 11, whose marketability and impending free agency give him a more prominent position than some better players. Derek Jeter isn’t even in baseball at the moment and he makes number 22 on the list. Same with David Ortiz at 32. Shohei Otani comes in at 47 and he’s on the NPB disabled list. Most of the active MLB’ers on the list are in the second 50.

There are a ton of executives, from the league, from clubs, and from media companies, obviously. The top pure-media guy, however, is Ken Rosenthal at number 51. The next time you get too caught up worrying about what this or that baseball writer or talking head says, remember, they’re not as powerful as a couple of dudes who run stats websites and several retired guys.

The thing I find most notable about the list: Tony Clark, the Executive Director of the MLB Players Association, is only at number seven. He’s behind his counterpart in Manfred, Dan Halem, MLB’s top labor negotiator, Tony Petitti, the man in charge of pace-of-play initiatives, Cardinals CEO Bill DeWitt, agent Scott Boras and Bob Bowman, the man who runs MLBAM.

Put differently: there are six people who are directly involved with decisions regarding the rules and conditions under which players work and who manage and benefit from income streams which players are most responsible for creating that, in at least USA Today’s judgment, are more powerful than the union rep. That’s . . . not ideal. And it’s telling.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

Getty Images
3 Comments

MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.