Pablo Sandoval worked with Barry Bonds this winter

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Pablo Sandoval is supposed to be in much better shape too. But no, the Kung Fu Panda didn’t work out with Barry Bonds to attain his newfound shape. That was attributable to laying off soda and chips, he says.  What he did do with Barry Bonds however was to work on plate discipline.

The weight loss is probably more important to Sandoval getting a chance to play every day, but the work with Bonds could be the key toward him making major contributions.  And it will also help sate my curiosity about whether one can actually teach plate discipline or if it’s simply an innate thing borne of intelligence and quick decision making and what not.  I mean, there have been very, very few batting eyes better than Barry Bonds’ batting eye in all of baseball history.

If Bonds can impart even a fraction of his ability to Sandoval, it could have some pretty big implications.  After all, you often hear about guys saying they’re going to work on their plate discipline in spring training or whatever, but how often do they go to a plate discipline master to do so?

Cardinals extend José Martínez through 2020

Jose Martinez
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First baseman/outfielder José Martínez agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Cardinals on Saturday, per a team announcement. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Martínez will receive $3.25 million in the deal plus incentives if he earns a more stable place within the starting lineup.

Martínez, 30, played 887 games in the minors before making his major-league debut with the Cardinals at the tail end of the 2016 season. The veteran first baseman has been nothing but productive in the three years since his debut, however, and turned in a career-best performance in 2018 after slashing .305/.364/.457 with 17 home runs, an .821 OPS, and 2.3 fWAR through 590 plate appearances. While he brings some positional flexibility to the table, he’ll be forced to compete against Dexter Fowler and Tyler O'Neill for a full-time gig in right field this year, as Paul Goldschmidt currently has a lock on first base.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the extension wasn’t solely precipitated by Martínez’s productivity in the majors, but by a competing offer from an unnamed Japanese team over the offseason. Goold adds that Martínez would have earned “significantly more than he would in the majors” had the club sold his rights. In the end, they ultimately elected to ink him to a more lucrative deal themselves. He’ll be eligible for arbitration in 2020.