101 ESPN’s Bernie Miklasz really laid into Cardinals manager Mike Matheny in a column published on Friday. Miklasz references an interview Matheny had with ESPN’s Mark Saxon during which the skipper attributed his team’s flaws with defense and running the bases to the young players on the roster. Before more or less “fisking” — or FJMing, in baseball parlance — Matheny’s statements, Miklasz provided an interesting anecdote:
When asked about the team’s problems with defense and base running in 2016, Matheny never really explored the topic. Never really answered the question or acknowledged the defense/running issues. Instead, he sought to play it off by citing his use of so many “young” players. And Matheny criticized the media for, well, I don’t know what the media did exactly. My best guess is that we discussed and wrote about the defensive and base running flaws last season. Areas that obviously were harmful to a team that won 86 games and failed to make the playoffs. Keep in mind, Matheny once told me that he considered my use of statistics — facts — to be personal attacks.
Though the Cardinals have been quite successful under Matheny in his five seasons — they’ve gone 461-349 (.569) — they have nothing to show for it. They lost the NLCS in seven games in 2012, lost the World Series in six games in 2013, lost the NLCS in five games in 2014, lost the NLDS in four games in 2015, and didn’t even make the playoffs last year. As a result, Matheny has been put under the microscope. Indeed, Craig has pointed out some of his shortcomings — here and here, for example — while Cardinals bloggers have gone to more specific detail. Miklasz, too, does a great job refuting Matheny’s claims.
We’re no longer in an era where people in crucial baseball roles can afford to be close-minded about information. Every team utilizes analytics in some capacity. To not use them, whether out of stubbornness or some moral distaste, is to intentionally handicap oneself. The Cardinals have been on the forefront of the analytics movement, too, so it comes off as particularly quirky that the manager appears to be a Luddite.
Braves utilityman Sean Rodriguez was involved in a scary car accident on January 28. His SUV was T-boned by a stolen police car, injuring his wife and his two children. It was initially reported that Rodriguez was unharmed, but unfortunately he suffered a serious shoulder injury that may cause him to miss the entire 2017 season, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported on Saturday that Rodriguez will undergo major surgery on his shoulder that will cause him to miss three to five months. O’Brien’s source says there’s a possibility Rodriguez misses the whole season.
As Ashley pointed out earlier, Rodriguez’s absence is a big reason why the Braves acquired veteran second baseman Brandon Phillips from the Reds on Sunday.
The Braves signed Rodriguez to a two-year, $11.5 million contract back in November. The 31-year-old is coming off a career year with the Pirates during which he hit .270/.349/.510 with 18 home runs and 56 RBI over 342 plate appearances while playing every position except for pitcher and catcher.
Flash back to late September 2015. The lowly Phillies are visiting the Nationals for an afternoon game. It’s tied 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth inning when outfielder Bryce Harper steps up to the plate to lead off the inning against reliever Dalier Hinojosa. With a 1-2 count, Harper skied a fastball to shallow left field. He did not appear to run hard out of the box.
When Harper returned to the dugout, teammate Jonathan Papelbon, who got the final out of the top half of the eighth, started barking at him. Papelbon was not happy that Harper wasn’t running hard out of the box. Words turned into shoving, and shoving turned into Papelbon choking Harper.
The Nationals went on to lose 12-5, in part because Papelbon gave up a tie-breaking two-run home run to Andres Blanco in the top of the ninth.
The two, though, have mended fences since then and there have been no further issues. Reliever Drew Storen, then a teammate of Harper and Papelbon’s and now a Red, was asked about the two when he appeared on MLB on TuneIn’s “The bullpen with David Aardsma” last month. Specifically, he was asked who would win a “legit fight” between Harper and Papelbon.
As Scott Allen of the Washington Post reports, Storen said, “I gotta take Pap. This is a shot in the dark because I don’t know either’s fighting ability, but the one thing about Pap, when I saw him in person in the clubhouse, as opposed to on the field, he’s a really big guy. I later found out that he got recruited to play tight end at Mississippi State along with playing baseball. He’s a very big human being, so just from that principle alone, I’m going to take the size. And he’s got the eyes, he’s got the look that he knows how to fight.”
Allen points out that Papelbon is listed at 6’5″ and 230 pounds while Harper is listed at 6’3″ and 215 pounds.