Hard to figure out where to categorize this story about A’s pitcher Jesse Hahn. On the one hand, it’s a story about how a player packed on muscle in the offseason as a means of atoning for some shortcomings the previous year and that’s right up in BSOHL territory.
On the other hand, it’s coming late — rare are the non-winter/spring training BSHOL stories — and it’s even possible that he’s in worse actual shape now that he has given up his previous regimen of cardio work in the interest of bacon and eggs and meat for dinner every night.
Either way, go read Jane Lee’s profile of Hahn’s offseason weight gain and keep it in mind as we count his innings this season.
The Padres received some unfortunate news on Friday, learning that back-up catcher Tim Federowicz suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee and will miss the next three to six months. The injury significantly boosted the chances that Wil Nieves, a non-roster invitee with the Padres, makes the 25-man roster out of spring training.
Nieves, 37, posted a meager .614 OPS in 128 plate appearances as the back-up catcher for the Phillies last season, but says he wants to play into his 40’s as Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Times reports. Nieves says he arrived to Padres’ camp in “the best shape of my career.” (Editor’s Note: After a brief review, the judges have decided that this counts as a BSOML claim.)
We keep track of the Best Shape of His Life stuff around these parts. It’s our belief, though, that BSOHL is mostly an exercise in spin and optimism. In the past we’ve made some comparisons of pre-and-post BSOHL seasons from given players and could find no real correlation between the claim and improved results, but we’ll be the first to admit that we didn’t look at the matter too rigorously.
Ben Lindbergh of Grantland looked it, however, and he found something interesting. Something that, while not life-altering or anything, is at least somewhat meaningful with respect to the BSOHL All-Stars.
I won’t give away his conclusions — you have to go read his article for that — but I do think it demands at least some bit of a change in the way those of us on the BSOHL beat deal with these things in the future. Perhaps differentiating between those who are obviously spinning coming off a bad year vs. those who just, screw it, decided to bulk up.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. spent a portion of the off-season taking heat and eventually apologizing for criticizing first baseman Ryan Howard during a radio appearance. Now, he may be going in the opposite direction. As CSN Philly’s John Clark reports, Amaro said that Howard is in the best shape “since I’ve known him”.
Former major leaguer Dan Plesac, in Phillies camp as a guest instructor, echoed the sentiment, telling Howard, “this is the best you’ve looked in 4-5 years.” Howard told Plesac this was the first offseason in which he’s been able to strengthen his leg since tearing his Achilles tendon in his left foot at the conclusion of the 2011 NLDS. Howard returned in July 2012 but was a shadow of his former self. In 2013, Howard had a bit of a bounce-back, but tore the meniscus in his right knee. 2014 was his first full, healthy season since 2011, but he posted a career-low .690 OPS.
Howard is entering the fourth year of a five-year, $125 million contract. The Phillies, currently attempting to rebuild, have made it no secret that they would prefer to trade Howard. However, he is owed a total of $50 million for the 2015-16 seasons plus a $10 million buyout for the ’17 season (assuming no team would pick up his $23 million club option). As a result, it’s effectively $60 million for two years. The Phillies would have to eat a very large portion of it to entice a team to make a deal.