A lot of you get sick of the little piece-by-piece rumor mill of the hot stove season, preferring that we wait until there’s a solid news story instead of a mere rumor to talk about something. I understand why you feel that way, but I disagree with that approach for the simple reason that I view a blog as a conversation, and you shouldn’t expect your friendly neighborhood blogger to zip it until news is official any more than you would the guy on the next bar stool over from you.
Wait. Bad example. God, I wish that guy would shut up.
Anyway, the point is that we make it pretty darn clear when we actually pretend to be reporting news around here. The rest of the time we’re just chatting, and there’s no harm in that. Chat back at us. That’s what the comments are for.
With that disclaimer out of the way, I’m going to offer you another one of those little bitty pieces of gossip that drive some of you crazy: According to 590 The Fan (question: is there a sports radio station in the country that doesn’t call itself “the Fan”?) Matt Holliday has put an offer down on a home in the St. Louis area. I’m guessing this means that the courtship is over and the kissing has begun.
Next up: Jon Heyman tweets that Holliday has signed offer sheets on houses in Balitmore, New York and San Francisco, and that he’s very close to signing a lease on a co-op in a “mystery city.”
In Major League Baseball, players are routinely pressured to play through injury and pain. Sometimes it’s just a minor ache, and sometimes it’s a very serious injury. The pressure comes from everywhere: the players themselves, their peers, coaches, front offices, media, and fans. Players who develop a reputation for landing on the disabled list are described as “soft” and “fragile.” Players who battle through the pain get talked about as “gritty” and “dedicated.”
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals are trying to encourage their players to be more honest about their health. The culture surrounding this is tough to change, but manager Mike Matheny wants his players to come to him if “anything that is off.” As Goold notes, Alex Reyes and Matt Bowman revealed they were, in Bowman’s words, not “entirely forthcoming.” Carlos Martinez said he pitched tentatively because he was “scared” of re-injuring himself. Matheny also called pitcher Michael Wacha “a great liar” when talking about his arm health.
Matt Carpenter has also played through injury and takes pride in it. He’s an example of the old mentality the club is trying to pierce through. Caarpenter said, “I’m a believer in if you’re getting paid to do a job and you’re capable of doing the job — even if it’s 85 percent of your best — I feel you have the obligation to be out there. That is the mentality I’ve always used. I could have very easily, at times last year, sat on the [disabled list], but I felt like I could still go out and do my job.”
Goold points out that players approach dealing with health issues differently depending on where they’re at in their careers. A young player who just got called up has pressure to stay in the big leagues and appear in games, so he may not want to address a health issue. A player who has already secured a multi-year contract may have less pressure on him and thus may be more willing to come to the trainer’s room.
I’ve long believed that player health will be the next arena in which front offices will separate themselves from the pack. Analytics had been that battleground for a while, but with every club now having an analytics department in some capacity, front offices will have to find value in new ways. Limiting the amount of time that players miss due to injury would be a significant boost for a team and it will start with players being forthcoming about what’s bothering them rather than trying to fight through pain.