Jered Weaver: “I’m not hurt … I’ve got no answers”

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Angels right-hander Jered Weaver keeps throwing in the mid-80s, keeps insisting his diminished velocity is no big deal, and keeps getting knocked around by opposing lineups.

Sunday that meant allowing five runs on 10 hits in five innings against the Giants to fall to 0-4 with a 6.29 ERA on the season.

Weaver has just 15 strikeouts in 34 innings for a rate of 3.9 per nine innings compared to 7.1 per nine innings last season and at least 6.8 per nine innings every season from 2008-2014. He’s also served up a league-high eight home runs and opponents are hitting .310 off Weaver compared to .239 last season and .236 for his career.

After previously downplaying his slow start and lack of velocity, Weaver expressed his frustration to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times:

I’m pretty much serving [batting practice] up there now. I have to work with what I’ve got. … I’m not hurt. Everything feels good. It feels like it’s coming out a lot better than it is. It’s weird, man. I don’t know. I’ve got no answers.

Weaver never threw particularly hard and his velocity has been trending in the wrong direction for a while now:

2010: 89.9 mph
2011: 89.1 mph
2012: 87.8 mph
2013: 86.5 mph
2014: 86.3 mph
2015: 83.3 mph

However, while a decent number of pitchers are able to thrive with high-80s fastballs once the velocity dips into the mid-80s consistently the tightrope they need to walk becomes incredibly thin. Weaver won a league-leading 18 games last season with a 3.59 ERA, but at age 32 there’s definitely reason to worry about his ability to return to that level.

John Henry tries to justify the Red Sox’ trade of Mookie Betts

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Red Sox owner John Henry issued a lengthy statement to fans today trying to explain and justify the team’s trade of Mookie Betts. It’s a master class in distortion that will, in all likelihood, make no one happy.

Henry starts by talking about “challenges.” The “particularly challenging” offseason the Red Sox had, the “extraordinary challenges” the Red Sox faced, and the front office’s handling of these “challenges.” He goes on to talk about how he knows the “challenges” affect the fans and how he sees it as his job to protect the organization from these “challenges.”

There’s a lot of passive voice here, and at no point does Henry note that the primary challenge at play here was the team’s decision to cut payroll and get it below the Competitive Balance Tax threshold. It’s just a thing that happened to the Red Sox, apparently. They had no agency in this at all.

For what it’s worth, the team keeps denying that the CBT was the motivating factor:

This is laughable, of course, given that Henry himself began the Red Sox’ offseason by specifically saying the team needed top do just that. His exact words from late September:

“This year we need to be under the CBT . . .  that was something we’ve known for more than a year now. If you don’t reset there are penalties so we’ve known for some time now we needed to reset as other clubs have done.”

Three days later, Kennedy himself said it’d “be difficult” to keep both Betts and J.D. Martinez and accomplish that goal. When that all went over like a lead balloon with the fans Henry and everyone else tried to walk it back, but you have to be an idiot not to see what happened here:

  1. Owner demands team get under CBT;
  2. Team president says it’ll be hard to do that without one of the superstars leaving;
  3. Martinez declines to op-out of his deal;
  4. Betts is traded.

They can cite all the “challenges” they want, but they traded Betts in order to slash payroll and they slashed payroll simply because they wanted to, not, as we and many others have demonstrated, because of any compelling reason.

Instead of talking about that, Henry spends the bulk of the statement talking about how baseball’s financial system — free agency, basically — requires teams to make tough choices. Henry:

In today’s game there is a cost to losing a great player to free agency — one that cannot merely be made up by the draft pick given. . . . we felt we could not sit on our hands and let him go without getting value in return to help us on our path forward.”

Losing a player to free agency stinks, but nowhere in the entire statement does Henry mention that the Sox could’ve, you know, not lost Betts to free agency next November.

Nowhere does he note that the Sox had a full year to talk to Betts about a possible extension nor did he mention that the Sox — who print money at a faster rate than anyone except the Yankees — could’ve bid on him in free agency too. He simply does not allow for the possibility that a 2021 Boston Red Sox team could’ve done what the 2020 Washington Nationals did, for example, and sign one of their big, would-be departing free agents in Stephen Strasburg. Nor, for that matter, does he allow for the possibility that they could do what the 2019 Washington Nationals did with their all-but-certain-to-depart superstar in Anthony Rendon: hold on to him in his walk year and win a damn World Series. Guess it was a “challenge” to go into all of that.

Of course, as we’ve seen across baseball this past week, it’s really, really hard to explain something when you don’t want to admit the facts and accept the consequences of it all. That’s maybe the toughest challenge of them all.

The full statement: