A lot of scouts were watching Cole Hamels yesterday

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If “number of scouts watching a guy play” is any indication of the seriousness of his team to trade him, consider Cole Hamels out the door already. From Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com:

There were so many scouts behind the backstop at Coors Field on Sunday afternoon that you could have built a campfire and made smores.

Oh, wrong kind of scouts.

These were baseball scouts, you know, the kind with straw hats, stop watches, radar guns, and questionable wardrobes. All the relevant chapters were present: Texas, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Miami, San Francisco, the Dodgers and Angels. There were more than that, in fact.

All of the teams present make sense except for maybe the Giants who don’t need pitching as bad as hitting, but the sheer number of scouts impressed a lot of people who cover the Phillies every day, so it was clearly unusual. Not that wanting Hamels would be unusual for anyone, but still.

Biggest takeaway from this: next time you’re at the ballgame, look for the straw hats and questionable wardrobes, because Salisbury is dead on with that. I’d add “polo shirt tucked in to dockers,” but that may be included in the “questionable wardrobe” part.  The radar guns are a giveaway, but they don’t all hold guns, so this is useful for scout spotting.

Cardinals encourage players not to hide injuries

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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.