Here's to a great week!
Who will be the last qualifying offer free agent to sign? (Polishuk)
Ian Desmond is the leading candidate, with Dexter Fowler and Yovani Gallardo the other two players unsigned.
Cody Allen leads AL relievers in strikeouts over last three seasons (Paquette)
278 strikeouts isn't too shabby.
MLB teams that are better than we think (Brisbee)
Every season is a weird season and it seems that there are always teams that come of nowhere to overachieve. Brisbee profiles three such teams, with no mention of our beloved Indians. From Brisbee:
If you were to design your perfect rotation, what would it look like? Five aces, dummy. Okay, then, how about your perfect realistic and sustainable rotation? An unquestioned ace at the top, certainly. Youth up and down the rotation, but not the entirely unproven kind. We're talking youth with at least a modest history of major league success. Strikeout stuff, all around.
The projected rotation of the 2016 Rays:
Alex Cobb (recovering from TJ)
Freddy Garcia is retiring (Silva)
He was still playing?
Studying the value of "grit" (Baer)
Grit has to be a great thing . . . right? Not so fast my friends. From Baer:
Famously, Philadelphia fans and talking heads got on outfielder Bobby Abreu's case in the late 1990's and early 2000's because he appeared gun-shy when approaching the outfield fence on fly balls. He was under a lot of pressure to sacrifice his body for the supposed good of the team, and developed a reputation as "soft". As a more recent example, former Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins caught flack from fans when he didn't run out a routine pop-up against the Mets on August 30, 2012. Then-manager Charlie Manuel benched the veteran. At the time, the Phillies were 62-69 and 17.5 games back of first place in the NL East and 8.5 games behind the second Wild Card. Freak injuries can happen, as Rollins' teammate Ryan Howard showed when making the final out of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals. Is that non-zero injury risk worth the tiny chance that the infielder drops the pop-up and Rollins gets a single (or, in rarer cases, a double) in a game that is essentially meaningless?
The aforementioned study shows that maybe Abreu and Rollins had it right after all. Statistically, a freak injury that occurs on a "hustle" play is bound to happen. Maybe that's what it will take to stop expecting athletes to put their bodies on the line for no realistic gain.