I hope everyone out there is adjusting to what appears to be the new normal for the world we live in. With various levels of social distancing and sheltering in place being implemented, I have found myself with a little more time at home without some of my normal distractions. I would imagine some of you are in the same boat. Hopefully, a little bit of baseball related reading can fill some of that time for you today.
New hitting coach, same Tigers
Jules Posner of Forbes takes a look at what we might expect from new hitting coach Joe Vavra. Vavra’s approach when hired, if you remember correctly, was to stress that players have a plan when coming to the plate. For a team with the lowest on-base percentage and second lowest walk rate in the league last year, a better plan might be helpful. The question here is if having a plan is enough, or if there are other more ingrained issues at play.
In a behind the scenes look at the organization’s international player development, Anthony Fenech of The Detroit Free Press shares what he learned on a tour of the Tigers’ Dominican Academy. The activity, which continues there despite the current global pandemic, is described by Fenech as being like an ant farm. Only a handful of the 80 person yearly class will ever make a major league roster, so the Academy works to educate and develop players in non-baseball ways that will help them be successful as they move through life. It’s an interesting walk through the regimen of training and education, the hopes of young players, and the realities of the fruit that the Academy will actually bear.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Evan Woodbery of MLive gives us 5 unconventional ideas for the potential 2020 season. The ideas range from some of the more obvious — like playing the games in empty ballparks and playing a lot of doubleheaders — to the more inventive, like playing internationally, or playing into December with a late schedule that would put games in warm climates or indoor stadiums. Whatever comes of the 2020 season, it’s certainly going to look different than anything we’ve seen before.
Four more weeks
Baseball has been postponed to, at the earliest, some point in the month of May. When the league is ready to get back into swing, it will likely require another abridged spring training. Mark Shapiro, President of the Toronto Blue Jays, believes it will take at least a month of practice and exhibition games before everyone is ready to go.
“Knowing that so many players are not even having any access to throwing at all or hitting at all, but most importantly just throwing, and probably limited access to just training and exercise, it’s hard to imagine we could get ready in less than four weeks.”
With that said, Shapiro doesn’t believe we’ll see training camps open until much later than May.
“It certainly looks like we are not dealing with days and likely not weeks, but closer to months.”
Signs of disagreement
Remember way back in the past when the Houston Astros were embroiled in the fallout from an elaborate sign stealing scandal? Remember how Major League Baseball was investigating the Boston Red Sox for something similar? Well, that investigation is still ongoing, but there are some out there who believe that the Red Sox are aware of the results of that investigation and do not agree with the conclusions that the league has come to. In oral argument for another matter, a lawyer for the team stated,
“Your Honor, I think that there are distinctions between what the Red Sox believe occurred and what the commissioner found. And I think that certainly they’re entitled to disagree that that activity happened at the club level. Certainly, we did find on certain occasions in 2017, that this electronic device was used to communicate sign information.”
What it would appear we have here — based on the “what the commissioner found” part — is an investigation that has concluded, a team that seems to be aware of what those conclusions are, and doesn’t necessarily agree with what the league found. When everybody else gets to know what’s going on is anyone’s guess.
Around the horn
Aaron Judge suffered a partial lung collapse when he injured his rib last year. Watch these classic MLB games on Youtube (The Tigers’ 2014 regular season division clinching game is on the list). MLB.TV is showing every 2018 and 2019 game for free. They probably could’ve picked two better seasons for Detroit, but at least it’s baseball. Japanese baseball and soccer are hoping for April restarts.