Let me get this part out of the way: I don’t like the idea of the universal designated hitter. At the same time, I recognize it as the best option for what will already be a strange season, if we get even that. However, we shouldn’t let this be the end of one of baseball’s most prevalent debates. We’ll just table the discussion for now.
Obviously, the temporary institution of the DH-for-all rule will help some teams more than others. American League teams have already built their rosters around the idea of having a DH for almost all of their games. National League teams obviously have not, and it makes for an intriguing subplot when and if baseball’s 2020 season restarts. Depth in quality hitters will be a key. But don’t overlook defense in this calculation. Some teams have chosen offense over defense at a key spot, a choice that they might be able to avoid in a DH world. Thus, not only could these teams adding a DH help their run production with another bat, they could actually improve their defense, as well.
Here, I’ve ranked each team’s DH situation according to projected run production from that spot, as measured by projected runs created per 162 games in a ballpark-neutral context. However, defense must be taken into account: For some NL teams, I’ve forecast DH plate appearances based on moving former regulars into that slot while getting a better glove in the field. In the commentary accompanying each team’s ranking, I’ve noted these decisions.
Philadelphia Phillies lost $145M during 2020 season, report says
PHILADELPHIA — The Phillies lost $145 million during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season played without fans, a source told The Associated Press on Saturday.
The Phillies are searching for a general manager to replace Matt Klentak and face important decisions regarding catcher J.T. Realmuto and shortstop Didi Gregorius. Both players are free agents, and Phillies managing partner John Middleton said last month the league’s economic climate will impact the team’s ability to spend money in the offseason.
The Phillies signed Bryce Harper to a $330 million, 13-year deal in 2019.
Philadelphia finished 28-32 last season, one game shy of ending a nine-year postseason drought. The Phillies haven’t had a winning season since taking five straight division titles, two pennants and one World Series between 2007-11.
Tampa Bay Rays OF Randy Arozarena released in Mexico
Arozarena had been detained Tuesday for a situation involving custody of his daughter, just weeks after he was named MVP of the American League Championship Series.
The Yucatan state prosecutors’ office confirmed Thursday that Arozarena was released because the former partner said any damages had been settled.
Arozarena has made no public comment, and it was not clear whether he had a lawyer.
The Yucatan state prosecutors’ office said Tuesday that Arozarena was detained “for problems relating to his ex-partner.”
It was not clear whether he was formally charged with any crime. Mexican law allows a two-day period for prosecutors to decide whether to bring charges. Normally suspects are held in jail pending that decision.
Local media reported that Arozarena married a Colombian woman earlier this month in Merida, the Yucatan state capital.
The Rays had said Tuesday that they were aware of the reports that Arozarena had been detained.
Arozarena hit .377 with 10 home runs and 14 RBIs in 20 postseason games for Tampa Bay.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Atlanta Braves’ Charlie Morton has faint memories of previous stint with team
ATLANTA — Charlie Morton is back with the team where his big league career started.
Not that he has a lot of memories from that rookie season with the Atlanta Braves.
“That was 11 years ago,” Morton said Wednesday.
Actually, it was 12.
“I don’t remember a whole lot about it,” he continued. “I was only with the Braves in the big leagues for about four months.”
Morton returned to the Braves after agreeing to a $15 million, one-year contract, further bolstering the rotation of a team that came within one victory of reaching the World Series.
While only a handful of people Morton knows are still in the organization, he said he was impressed by what he saw from afar.
“This is as talented a group as you’re going to find,” he said. “I’m excited to get in that clubhouse, be around them and get to know them.”
Morton, 37, lives in Bradenton, Florida, and had hoped to return to the Tampa Bay Rays for a third season. But the team declined his $15 million option, so he settled for the next best choice.
Returning to the Braves.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos made it clear right away that he was interested in Morton, especially after the Braves struggled throughout the shortened 2020 season to put together an effective rotation.
“They were aggressive early,” Morton said. “They were one of the first teams to call. Alex was checking in frequently.”
With four young children, Morton said proximity to home was the most important factor in his decision. Atlanta is a short flight from the Tampa Bay area. The Braves’ spring training complex in North Port is less than an hour’s drive away.
“My hope was that we could stay close to home,” Morton said. “The situation in Tampa was awesome.”
Morton was called up by the Braves in 2008. He made 15 starts on a team that lost 90 games, going 4-8 with a 6.15 ERA.
He was back in Triple-A the following year when the Braves dealt him to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a package of prospects for Nate McLouth.
Morton turned out to be quite the late bloomer, breaking through with the best years of his career well into his 30s. He went 29-10 over two seasons with the Houston Astros, making the All-Star Game for the first time at age 34. He moved on to the Rays in 2019, going 16-6 with a 3.05 ERA and making the Midsummer Classic for the second time.
Along the way, Morton has become one of baseball’s greatest postseason pitchers. The right-hander is the first hurler in big league history to earn four victories in winner-take-all playoff games.
After going 2-2 with a 4.74 ERA in nine starts this past season, he burnished his clutch credentials by winning three more games in the playoffs. His streak of seven straight postseason wins finally ended with a Game 3 loss to the Dodgers in the World Series.
Morton certainly has a chance to get back to the playoffs with the Braves, who have captured three straight NL East titles. He joins another free-agent acquisition, Drew Smyly, in a rotation led by Cy Young contender Max Fried and rookie sensation Ian Anderson, who is only 22.
Atlanta is also counting on the recovery of another budding star, 23-year-old Mike Soroka, who went down this past season with a torn Achilles. When the rotation is at full strength, it should be one of the best groups in all of baseball.
“They’ve got some really good pitchers,” Morton said. “I didn’t realize how young they were were. I looked them up and I was like, ‘Dang.'”
You’ll have to excuse his lack of knowledge about the Braves.
It’s been a while.
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