Mark Bowman reports from Lake Buena Vista, which is where pitchers, catchers (and a good chunk of the rest of the team) are already chomping at the bit as the NL East Champions prepare to defend their crown and attempt to go even further during this upcoming season.
In his latest blog for the AJC, DOB covers a gauntlet of Braves subjects (including the details to Jason Heyward's new contract, in case you missed that one), but spends the bulk of the article comparing a once-young Chipper Jones after his first three seasons to currently-young Freddie Freeman as he heads into his 4th season with the biggest contract in club history.
Jonah Keri at Grantland recently took the time to rank what he felt were the 15 worst contracts in baseball, today. As mentioned in the headline, there are 2 Braves who make the list. I won't spoil it for you, but their last names rhyme with "Puggla" and "Rupton."
Freddie Freeman and Paul Goldschmidt are given a crowning of sorts in this statistical analysis and comparison of the two best young first basemen in baseball today. Tony Blengino of Fangraphs says that although they may not be the best, period, both of them are primed to become the top 1Bs in the game very soon, should they continue on their current path.
Our friends over at Beyond the Box Score have been taking close looks at great defensive players throughout baseball, and no examination of good defense in baseball is complete without a look at Andrelton Simmons and his wizardly ways at shortstop. If you think those defensive numbers are beautiful to look at, then watch this quick video (or the extended version) to refresh your memory of the amazing season that Simmons had last season.
Two players who had to deal with some hard luck last season are taking on an optimistic outlook as they head into 2014. Tyler Pastornicky is looking to recover from a very unfortunate ACL tear from last August, after he was tapped to replace Dan Uggla who was having an absolutely catastrophic season both at the plate and with the glove. Both are looking to reverse their fortune for the upcoming season.
League Wide News
Yankees shortstop and future Hall-of-Famer Derek Jeter will finally be calling it quits after he finishes his 20th season in the major leagues, all of which were spent as a Yankee. The Yankees' captain will finish his illustrious career as the franchise leader in hits, at-bats, stolen bases and games played. He also has five World Series rings to his name, though that's neither here nor there.
Phillies ace Cole Hamels has shoulder tendinitis and is currently behind schedule as he deals with that ailment. The tendinitis is apparently enough for the consistent 3-4 WAR pitcher to miss opening day. Apparently, this was enough for the Phillies to make the following deal:
A.J. Burnett will be taking his talents across the state from Pittsburgh to pitch for Philadelphia. Burnett had an ERA of 3.30, a FIP of 2.80 and an age of 34 years last season. Also, interesting note: With this signing, the Phillies payroll is now double that of the Braves. Very interesting.
Jose Lobaton's name was mentioned in an earlier Link Dump, and trade talks surrounding him continue to heat up as now the Washington Nationals have apparently sat down at the negotiation table with the Tampa Bay Rays to discuss a possible trade for the catcher.
All-Star closer Greg Holland and the Kansas City Royals agreed to a 1-year, $4.675 million deal that avoids an arbitration case. Holland is coming off of an excellent season, recording an ERA of 1.21, a FIP of 1.36, a K% of 40.2 while collecting 47 saves along the way.
After being released last August, the formerly prominent 36-year-old closer has latched on with the Mets on a minor league deal.
Major League Baseball has decided to end all litigation against Biogenesis. This news comes shortly after Alex Rodriguez basically gave up his fight against baseball's sanctions on him. Surely this is not a coincidence.
The Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to terms on a $25 million dollar Cuban SS Erisbel Arruebarruena. Arruebarruena is expected to give the Dodgers some infield depth and will probably spend time in the minors before he makes his Major League debut. It should be intriguing to see how they deal with getting his last name on the jersey.
Hisashi Iwakuma has suffered a strained tendon in one of the fingers on his pitching hand and will miss the beginning of the regular season for the Mariners. Iwakuma had a great season in 2013 which resulted in a 3rd place finish in Cy Young voting, so this figures to be a bit of an early blow for Seattle
After being designated for assignment last week, Astros 3B Brett Wallace cleared waivers. This opens the door for Wallace to go to Astros camp as a non-roster invite & earn his way back onto the Major League roster. Wallace hit for .221/.284/.431 and 13 HRs last season, which improved his fWAR to a career-high of 0.0.
Dude. Look at this.
Yes, that is actually CC Sabbathia. It's unconfirmed as to whether or not CC Sabbathia had actually been carrying another person inside of his now significantly smaller belly.