How did the BSOHL guys do in 2012?

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Each winter we keep tabs on which players — and sometimes which managers or even bloggers — report to spring training in The Best Shape of Their Lives.  Let’s see how the winter 2011-12 roster did compared to their 2011 seasons when, presumably, they were in terrible shape.

Note: there may have been a few stragglers after this list was compiled back in February.  If I’m missing someone, let’s talk about them in the comments:

  • Chris Tillman:  WAY better in 2012. IMPROVED
  • Franklin Gutierrez: Played better when available, but only played 40 games. DECLINED
  • Miguel Olivo: OPS decreased, games played decreased. DECLINED
  • Miguel Cabrera: Was awesome, became awesomer on the surface, but actually saw his batting average and on base percentage go down and had his worst OPS+ in three years. Still, the dude did move to third base, and that’s a way better indication of his shape than the offensive stat line: IMPROVED
  • Justin Smoak: Took a nose dive. DECLINED
  • Dexter Fowler: Improved in most offsensive categories and played more games. IMPROVED
  • Jaime Garcia:  Declined in most categories and spent much of the year injured. DECLINED
  • Miguel Tejada: 36 games in Triple-A and called it quits. Gonna go out on a limb and say that his BSOHL was an agent’s talking point. DECLINED, perhaps DIED
  • Aubrey Huff: Fell into a pit and is presumably still plummetting. His season highlight was getting injured trying to jump the dugout railing to celebrate Matt Cain’s perfect game. DECLINED
  • Vicente Padilla: Hadn’t pitched much the past couple of years but took the ball 56 times from the bullpen. Results were pretty “meh” and he remained the same irritable SOB he always has been, but just in terms of durability one has to say he improved, yes? IMPROVED
  • Carlos Zambrano: He pitched in 35 games and didn’t cause any riots or anything, even when demoted to the bullpen. Still, a stiff back limited his innings and effectiveness. I’m going to go with NO CHANGE.
  • Yonder Alonso: Weird for a guy as young as he is to even make the BSOHL claim. He was adequate at times in his first full season of action, but his ballpark and the playing time certainly exposed him. He did lose some weight over the offseason I guess, so it was a legit claim of BSOHL, but we need more data to see if he improved. For now: NO CHANGE.
  • Carlos Gutierrez: Spent the whole season in the minors again, but his “whole season” was 10 relief starts before a shoulder injury ended his season in July. Then he was waived. Gonna say that he was not in the BSOHL at any time in 2012. DECLINED
  • Mark Teixeira: Was injured and hit worse for most of the season when he did play. DECLINED
  • Dmitri Young: He actually had no real chance to make a major league roster, but given his dramatic weight loss, he certainly was in the BSOHL. And based on this picture from last night, he has kept it off.  Life is more important than baseball, and Young is taking charge of his life. IMPROVED
  • Yoenis Cespedes: I can’t remember the basis for this claim, but given that he exceeded most reasonable expectations, I’d say he IMPROVED
  • Phil Hughes: He frustrated Yankees fans at times in 2012, but he was healthy most of the year, pitched nearly 200 innings and bounced back from a disastrous 2011. IMPROVED
  • Brett Cecil: Didn’t make the Jays out of camp and the was demoted again to Las Vegas after some time in Toronto. DECLINED
  • Bill Hall: Multiple signings — Yankees, Orioles — and a DFA by the Orioles to Triple-A where he really didn’t hit like he needed to.  He’s done, it seems. He, Miguel Tejada and Aubrey Huff should go open a bar somewhere and make the BSOHL Cocktail their feature drinks. DECLINED

So there you have it.  It’s almost enough to suggest that, when someone says they’re in the Best Shape of His Life, they may not actually be.  Troubling, I’ll admit, but let’s not stop keeping track of it.

If you see a BSOHL claim this offseason, be sure to raise the alarm with the HardballTalk BSOHL Strike Team.

American draft prospect Carter Stewart signs in Japan

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The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.

The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.

Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.

It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.

He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.