They played this thing called The Super Bowl on Sunday night. I can assure you two things: one team won, and another team lost. The good news for us isn’t in the crowning of another NFL champion, but in the fact that the season is over. For that, we are all winners because it means the time for baseball is nigh. Copies of the 2017 Baseball Prospectus Annual are dropping into the mailboxes of eagerly awaiting fans like so many stork delivered babies, the harbingers of the new life that is the 2017 baseball season.
Get your affairs in order, my friends. The next time I write your Monday Links, it will be on the eve of pitchers and catchers reporting to Lakeland, Fla. Eight days, people. Eight more days.
Tigers sign Mike Zagurski
Keeping my beer-league-softball team theory alive, the Tigers signed pitcher Mike Zagurski to a minor league contract on Sunday. The 34-year-old left-handed reliever has been slinging in Japan for the last few seasons. Prior to that, he pitched for a variety of teams around the majors, putting together 75 1⁄3 innings with 75 strikeouts. Before you go getting yourself all fired up about Zagurski, you should know he also walked 46 and sported a 5.11 FIP. He seems to have a pretty solid bobblehead made in his likeness, so he has that going for him.
We aren’t the worst!
FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan published an article about the best and worst team defenses of 2016. If you watched any significant amount of Tigers baseball last season, you would probably agree that describing what a few of our guys did while wearing a baseball mitt as “defense” would be pretty generous. With that knowledge in hand, you won’t be surprised to hear that the Tigers didn’t end up anywhere near the best end of this spectrum. The silver lining here is that two teams somehow managed to be worse than Detroit. Even better, the Tigers are slated to improve from terrible to mediocre in 2017. Mediocre may not sound great, but it’s a move in the right direction. Baby steps.
The AL Central just got a little bit more difficult
Source: #Royals in agreement with free-agent RHP Jason Hammel on two-year contract with mutual option for a third year, pending physical.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 6, 2017
This fun bit of news came out late Sunday night. According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, we can welcome righthander Jason Hammel to the division. Coming off of two good seasons with the Chicago Cubs, Hammel looks to make the Kansas City rotation a lot better, much to the chagrin of Tigers fans.
There’s baseball to watch right now
Maybe you saw this already. If not, let me clue you in on a little secret. Right now, there is baseball of some consequence being played by men with watchable levels of talent. The Carribean Series kicked off on Wednesday, and features a variety of intriguing players like Sergio Romo and his beard, Rusney Castillo, Freddy Galvis, and the 19-year-old brother of Yoenis Cespedes, Yoelkis. The semi-finals will be played on Monday and the finals are on Tuesday. You can catch them on the Ocho, or one of the myriad other ESPN channels.
Beyond the Box Score’s stars and scrubs
If you missed this one earlier in the week — it’s on the front page if you did — the folks at Beyond the Box Score took a look at the Tigers’ situation in 2017. They gave it the old stars and scrubs treatment, which is what we’re dealing with (to a certain extent) with this team. I personally take a little umbrage with the fact that third base is listed as the second worst spot on the team. They go as far as to say:
Nick Castellanos had a bit of a “breakout” last year, in that he posted the first positive fWAR of his career, but he still doesn’t seem particularly good...
I’ll be the first to admit I’m a bit of a Castellanos cheerleader — I carry him on my roster in two of the fantasy baseball leagues I’m in that you have no interest in hearing about — but I think pundits, including the folks at BtBS, are sleeping on the duck-shirted warrior.
If you have some free time
Rays re-up with LoMo. The Twins designated Byung Ho Park, and FanGraphs takes an in-depth look at the situation. A quick look at the newly re-named minor league squads. Who makes a better team, the remaining free-agents or the San Diego Padres?
Today in baseball history
In 1936, Ted Williams signed with the Boston Red Sox for $135,000, making him the highest paid player in Major League Baseball. Seems like it might have been worth the money.