Brewers manager Craig Counsell confirmed Sunday what many assumed when Khris Davis was traded February 12 to the Athletics: Ryan Braun will move back to left field this season in Milwaukee, with 23-year-old prospect Domingo Santana taking over in right.
Braun was the Brewers’ regular left fielder from 2008-2013, but he moved to right field in 2014 to clear a spot for the defensively-challenged Davis. Santana has a very strong arm and Braun is coming off back surgery, so the return to left makes all the sense in the world.
Milwaukee acquired Santana from the Astros in last year’s Carlos Gomez trade. The hope is he can be a big part of the club’s rolling rebuild.
Jake Arrieta won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award after registering a brilliant 1.77 ERA, 0.865 WHIP, and 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 regular-season innings. Over his final 12 starts, his ERA was 0.41 and the Cubs went 12-0.
But the 29-year-old right-hander threw just 156 2/3 innings in 2014, and he totaled 248 2/3 innings between the regular season and postseason combined in 2015. That’s a difference of nearly 100 innings, and the Cubs are at least somewhat concerned about the sudden jump in workload.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon told MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat this weekend that Arrieta will be held behind some of the other pitchers in camp as spring training gets underway and that there will be a “proactive” plan to monitor his innings during the regular season. That probably means fewer complete games — Arrieta threw four complete games in 2015, tied for the most in the majors.
Chicago probably has the best position player talent in baseball, but one thing the Cubs lack is high quality pitching depth. Arrieta needs to be protected.
Major League Baseball and the MLBPA worked together over the winter with equipment company Boombang to design a new form of protective headgear for pitchers. They settled on a hybrid carbon fiber helmet cap and sent out prototypes to 20 different major leaguers this spring.
Pirates relievers Mark Melancon and Jared Hughes were among the first players to receive the new pitching helmet, and they both took the thing for a spin Sunday morning in Bradenton, Florida …
It’s still pretty bulky, but sometimes you have to sacrifice style for safety.
These aren’t going to be mandatory, but we’ll probably see more pitchers give them a try.