Padres release Edinson Volquez

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Predictably zero teams wanted anything to do with the remainder of Edinson Volquez’s contract after the Padres designated him for assignment, so the right-hander passed through waivers unclaimed and has been released.

That means Volquez is free to sign with any team for whatever he can get, although with free agency right around the corner anyway his options may be limited.

Volquez was once a very promising young pitcher, making the All-Star team as a 24-year-old for the Reds in 2008 after being acquired from the Rangers for Josh Hamilton, but injuries derailed his career and since 2009 he’s thrown 546 innings with a 4.98 ERA while walking 5.0 batters per nine innings. That includes a hideous 6.01 ERA in 24 starts for the Padres this season and Volquez turned 30 years old last month, so whatever upside he once had is buried beneath a mountain of disappointing starts.

MLB’s juiced baseball is juicing Triple-A home run totals too

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There has been considerable evidence amassed over the past year or two that the baseball used by Major League Baseball has a lower aerodynamic profile, leading to less drag, which leads directly to more home runs. If you doubted that at all, get a load of what is happening in Triple-A right now.

The minors have always had different balls than the majors. The MLB ball is made in Costa Rica at a Rawlings facility. The minor league balls are made in China. They use slightly different materials and, by all accounts, the minor league balls do not have the same sort of action and do not travel as far as the big league balls. Before the season, as Baseball America reported, Major League Baseball requested that Triple-A baseball switch to using MLB balls. The reason: uniformity and, one presumes, more accurate analysis of performance at the top level of the minor leagues.

The result, as Baseball America reports today, is a massive uptick in homers in the early going to the Triple-A season:

Last April, Triple-A hitters homered once every 47 plate appearances. As the weather warmed up, so did the home run rate. Over the course of the entire 2018 season, Triple-A hitters homered every 43 plate appearances. So far this year, they are homering every 32 plate appearances. Triple-A hitters are hitting home runs at a rate of 135 percent of last year’s rate.

Again, that’s in the coldest, least-homer friendly month of the season. It’s gonna just get worse. Or better, I guess, if you’re all about the long ball.

Which you had better be, because if they did something to deaden the balls and reduce homers, we’d have the same historically-high strikeout and walk rates but with no homers to provide offense to compensate. At least unless or until hitters changed their approach to become slap hitters or something, but that could take a good while. And may still not be effective given the advances in defense since the last time slap hitting was an important part of the game.

In the meantime, enjoy the dingers, Triple-A fans.