Baseball is back, friends. But with it inevitably comes injuries, which brings us here.
Now, we’re not supposed to treat certain injuries as special cases. Then again, parents are supposed to love all of their children equally. But shtick happens, right? Sometimes, they just can’t help it. Sometimes, nothing can be done about it. This is all going somewhere, I assure you.
But seriously, we have a couple of notable injury issues to discuss. One concludes with a sigh of relief. Perhaps a pat on the shoulder or even a warm hug is in order. While the other is the sad but all too common disappointment we’ve come to expect in recent years. A disappointment greeted with an audible sigh and long faces. A sigh that says ‘We know this won’t be the last time.’
Boston, Price Receive Very Good News
When the offseason began, Boston’s depth at starting pitching was seen as a strength. Upon acquiring Chris Sale, though, they had too many arms and not nearly enough spots for them. But a couple of moves later, their rotation was set. A two-headed left-handed monster—Sale and David Price—the AL Cy Young winner—Rick Porcello—not to mention Steven Wright, Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodríguez.
Assuming the Red Sox weren’t going to utilize a six-man rotation, this setup had it all. An incredible mix of righties and lefties. Strikeout-heavy arms. Productive innings-eaters. And bubbling just below them, enough promise to feel safe about almost anything. Say, even a season-ending injury.
But David Price? You can’t just go out and find a like-for-like replacement for David Price. Sale was their big splash. Everything else was supposed to fall in line accordingly. But Price was experiencing forearm tightness. But since his MRI was inconclusive, it was time to visit Dr. James Andrew for a second opinion. And how does that usually go? Two words: not well. So it was almost foolish to expect this would be any different.
Fortunately for the lefty (and the Red Sox), Price appears to have beaten the odds. No injection. More importantly, no surgery. Just rest and treatment. For now, Boston’s rotation remains as strong as it looks. For now, the Red Sox still boast two of the best left-handed (and healthy) hurlers in the game.
Rob Manfred Still Doesn’t Entirely Get It
Don’t worry, this isn’t the part of the show where we praise MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. I promise.
Because as far as bad commissioners go, Manfred seems to be gunning for Roger Goodell’s throne. Of course, we’re a fair way off from Manfred going out of his way to hinder the future well-being of the athletes he oversees. But it’s not like we’re giving him extra credit for that. That’s just basic human decency.
But as it relates to baseball, he is a man obsessed with changing any little thing that will make the game quicker. We’ve talked about these proposals often in this space recently, but it bears repeating. On the surface, this seems fine. Sure the proposed changes aren’t helping, but it’s the way he goes about it that’s becoming problematic. Seemingly every week, another story breaks. And it all feels the same: forced.
So when Manfred actually spoke a bit of sense in an interview with Maury Brown (Forbes), our ears perked up:
“I fully agree with the idea of examining our commercial load in our broadcasts and is something that we should be doing,” remarked Manfred, before adding “There are contractual limitations on when we can do this; we have existing commitments. But, that certainly should be an issue we look at, as well.”
It’s all very non-committal; it’s very much commissioner speak that sounds good. But at the very least, it’s something he said out loud and in public. It’s something that’s out there now, meaning there will inevitably be pushback from both sides. On one side, you’ll have the corporate sponsors. And on the other the fans, who will be waiting to say ‘But remember when you said this?’
So good on Manfred for actually saying that the length of commercial breaks should be looked at. That’s absolutely correct. He gets partial credit for that. Credit that he possibly loses, however, with the following remarks:
“Whether it’s a 2 hour and 15 minute game or a game that goes an hour longer, we’re focused on eliminating dead time. Those dead periods are not healthy and that’s the ‘pace’ piece of it,” adding “The second piece—which we understand can actually add time to games—is getting more action into the game… we would like to move it back more towards the historic norm.”
That’s all well and good, but again it mostly comes back to commercials. It has little (or nothing) to do with the time it takes to finish an intentional walk. Pitching clocks will only shave off a few seconds here in there. How much dead time is Manfred looking to eliminate? Because if he wants to eliminate all of it, this may mean changes on top of changes solely for the sake of it.
Bringing in younger fans is a great goal to have, and MLB desperately needs to do so. But if fans weren’t willing to commit roughly three hours to a game before, how does he figure they’ll commit to a game that could maybe end up only being 10-15 minutes shorter than that? Manfred can make all the changes he wants but in the end, the impact he desires is far from a guarantee.
Is This the End for David Wright?
Let’s get this out of the way early: David Wright is a very good baseball player.
Drafted 38th overall in 2001, Wright has spent the entirety of his soon-to-be 14-year career with the New York Mets. At his best, he was on the fringes of being the National League’s Most Valuable Player. From 2006 through 2008, Wright finished top-10 in MVP voting in three consecutive seasons. He even got himself back into the conversation as recently as 2012.
Finally, Wright holds a career triple-slash of .296/.376/.491. That’s good for an OPS of .867 and wRC+ of 137. He’s been very good for the Mets, and consistently so. Yet in recent years, some New Yorkers seemingly wish to diminish his overall impact. Perhaps they’re bitter over the contract extension from 2012 that is starting to age poorly; I couldn’t say. Maybe it’s the lack of a championship (which isn’t his fault). But the numbers say what they do, and they do not lie.
But, the 34-year-old may be reaching the end of the road. In April of 2015, Wright was sidelined with a strained hamstring. Later on that season, he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis. All told, Wright appeared in just 38 games. Unfortunately, it wasn’t about to get better. The following June, he was placed on the DL with a herniated disc. One season-ending surgery later, and Write was limited to just 37 appearances overall.
Wright’s health has consistently hindered him in recent years, but the hope was that 2017 was going to be different. Instead, it’s been halted once more—and the season hasn’t even started yet. This time it was a shoulder impingement and suddenly, the captain was shut down. Suddenly, worry bubbled to the surface once more. Wright hasn’t been able to stay fully healthy for an entire season since 2012, prompting the question: is this the expectation now? Is this where we’re at or where we’ve been at? More importantly, is this the end for David Wright?
Not quite yet, I hope. Because it would be awfully harsh for a great career to be remembered for a string of bad luck.