It's fairly safe to say that Jonathan Papelbon isn't well-liked around Major League Baseball.
From 2005-2011, Papelbon was known as the Red Sox' fiery, amped-up ninth-inning man. He closed out the 2007 World Series and was Boston's man to put the nail in the opposing team's coffin many, many times.
Papelbon signed with the Phillies that offseason, wanting to go out and win another World Series championship. When that couldn't be done, all Papelbon wanted was to be traded. He spoke out publicly against Phillies management on numerous occasions, leading Philadelphia fans (quite unsurprisingly) to boo and shout at the closer when he came into games.
But Papelbon continued to to his job and got his wish of being traded to a contender at this year's trade deadline. He was sent south to the nation's capital and became a member of the Washington Nationals, the preseason World Series favorite, even though the team had what many thought to be a perfectly fine closer in Drew Storen.
Papelbon's time with Washington has been fine. He came into the ninth inning of many games, shut the door most of the time, and wasn't too loud about it. Because, in sense, he was where he wanted to be. He was out of Philadelphia and with a "winner."
As the Nationals' season started to go downhill, so did Papelbon. From September 8 to 18, when the Nationals were clinging on to their slim playoff hopes, Papelbon had a 5.40 ERA, blew two saves, and took the loss on a separate occasion.
Papelbon may have already tainted his reputation with the Nationals for the rest of his career.
Papelbon had already been suspended by Major League Baseball by throwing at Manny Machado just a few days ago. Because he appealed the suspension, he was able to play.
Today, he went after one of his own.
In the bottom of the eighth inning against the Phillies, Bryce Harper hit a fly ball into short left field. He apparently did not run it out at full speed. Upon coming back to the dugout, Papelbon chirped at Harper, allegedly telling him to run it out. Then, it got ugly. Papelbon grabbed Harper's neck and a dugout altercation between the two started. It was hard to tell, but punches may have been thrown. The two were separated and Harper stormed into the clubhouse.
What should the Nationals do with Papelbon?
Obviously, it wasn't smart of them to acquire the relief pitcher to begin with. Since they traded for Papelbon on July 28, the team is 27-29, and lost 9 1/2 games of ground to the New York Mets (not including today's game).
Papelbon is still signed through next season and is owed $11 million.
The Nationals have multiple options here. They could bite the bullet and consider this to be the last straw and release Papelbon. However, then they owe him the money for next year. They could also try and trade him, however, it would be hard to find a taker for him following what happened today and his history of being a clubhouse poison.
It'll be interesting to see what they decide to do, but one thing's for sure. The Papel-bomb exploded today and it was ugly.
The Milwaukee Brewers hired David Stearns to be their next general manager.
Who is David Stearns?
Stearns is a Harvard graduate. He's worked in baseball for awhile now, having been in the game since 2008. He's 30-years-old. He's the new general manager for the Milwaukee Brewers.
David Stearns might just be the answer to the Brewers' prayers out of mediocrity. The team hasn't made the playoffs since 2011. And with the NL Central quickly becoming Major League Baseball's hardest division thanks to the Pirates, Cardinals, and Cubs, the Brewers might not be a playoff team for awhile.
And that's where Stearns comes in.
Thispast February, ESPN had a "great analytics rankings," where they rated teams based on their usage of analytics within their sport.
The Brewers were given a "One Foot In" rating, as it was noted that they used analytics in shifting, as well as seeing the hidden value in Jonathan Lucroy's pitch framing. It also prasied them for signing Carlos Gomez and Lucroy to team friendly, long-term deals before they broke out.
Stearns will put the other foot in for the Brewers. He's coming from an Astros organization that was in the "All-In" category and is thrown up there with the Oakland Athletics as the two most analytically friendly teams in the Majors (while that is necessarily true, I don't know, but it is what it is).
But he's not just about the stats. Stearns "worked well" with the Astros' scouting department as well, giving him the well-roundedness that is needed for a general manager to be successful.
The Brewers offseason will be a fun one to watch. What will Stearns do now that he has full control of the team? He probably won't be making any fancy moves; the team is probably still a few years away from contention. But what he does could still be significant in its own way.
So to answer the initial question: Will Stearns answer the Brewers' prayers? He's well-liked around the game; he's analytically friendly, though not completely reliant on data; and he's young and probably will bring a lot of innovation to the job.
Stearns is the answer.
It's not often you find a 25-year-old in Triple-A get sent to the Arizona Fall League.
The AFL is usually reserved for premium prospects and is called by many around the game as baseball's "finishing school," meaning that talented prospects get to work on their game and hopefully develop into solid big league players.
Many former AFL players are big league stars. Derek Jeter, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Piazza, Albert Pujols, Jimmy Rollins, and David Wright are some of the former AFLers to become pro stars.
Well, then there's Michael Dimock.
Selected in the 37th round of the 2012 draft by the Houston Astros out of Wake Forest University, Dimock was never thought of anything more than an organizational player, a guy who fills the spots on the minor league rosters.
But after a trade to the Padres in 2014, Dimock has begun to shake his organizational status and has started to pitch his way onto possibly the 25- and 40-man rosters for the 2016 season. He's certainly in conversation.
Between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A El Paso this season, Dimock turned himself into a real talent. He went 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 60 innings, posting an absurd 70-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio, which registers to a 2.70 FIP.
It wasn't a velocity increase or even the addition of a new pitch that turned Dimock into the pitcher he was last season. Something "just clicked" during a bullpen session and he was able to build that into sustainable success.
"Ever since then [that bullpen] I've been more focused on perfecting my craft and becoming the best player I can be," Dimock said.
If Dimock pitches well during his stint in the Arizona Fall League, he could find himself on not just the Padres' 40-man roster, but perhaps even another team's.
Dimock is Rule 5 draft eligible this offseason, which takes place during baseball's annual Winter Meetings. If the Padres opt to keep him off their 40-man roster by that point, he could be up for grabs by any team interested in his services, with just one catch, that being he'd have to remain on their active roster for the entire year in order for them to keep him.
This means that Dimock's time in the big leagues could be closer than many think. And because Dimock is a good pitcher with high strikeout totals and low walk totals, he does fit the mold of a Rule 5 pick. Not to mention, he already has a big league mustache as well.
The Arizona Fall League is a big step in the career of Michael Dimock, a former organizational player who is beginning to bloom into a prospect that could provide real big league value in the future. And that could come in 2016.
The Mets, Matt Harvey, and his agent Scott Boras are in a bit of a kerfuffle.
In short: Boras believes that Dr. James Andrews, Harvey's surgeon for his Tommy John surgery, gave Harvey a strict 180 innings pitched limit this season. The Mets, however, say that Andrews did not give them a specific number. And Harvey himself says he'll be shut down at 180.
The reason this is important: Harvey is at 166 1/3 innings pitched, meaning, if in fact he will be shut down at 180 innings, he only has 13 2/3 innings left this season, or about two starts. With the Mets making a serious playoff push, this could mean they could be without one of their top pitchers during the final stretch and possibly into the postseason.
Whew. That was a lot, wasn't it?
There are many ways to look at this. But I'm going to say this: evaluating Matt Harvey based only upon innings pitched is not the way to go in this day and age, especially with all the PITCHf/x data we have at our fingertips. Instead, Harvey should be looked upon by pitches thrown, types of pitches thrown and how many of each, and the leverages he's been pitching in.
Not all innings are alike. Some innings could be an eight or ten pitch inning; others can be a twenty or more pitch inning. So, looking at Harvey through pitches thrown instead of innings pitched.
So, without further ado, let's do just that.
Harvey, this season, has thrown 2,459 pitches. Over his 166 1/3 innings, this means that Harvey is averaging just 14.78 pitches per inning, which ranks 74th-fewest among starting pitchers in the Major Leagues, according to teamrankings.com.
In the rankings, Harvey is around some of the best pitchers in the league. Zack Grienke ranks just behind him at 75th. Dallas Keuchel is behind Grienke at 76. And Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber, and Max Scherzer come in at Nos. 77, 78, and 79, respectively. Felix Hernandez, Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Carlos Carrasco are the pitchers above him.
Basically, he's right around the best of the best. The explanation for this is simple. The more economical a pitcher is, the further they will be able to pitch into games and effectively do so.
Before his surgery in 2013, Harvey again was throwing among the fewest pitches in the big leagues (70th fewest out of 82 qualified starters). So what was the real reason for his UCL tearing and how can the Mets keep him from further damaging their prized righty?
It's really hard to know. It could be due to the volume of off-speed pitches he's throwing. It could be due to leverage and the amount of stress he's pitching through (i.e. a bases loaded situation is more stressful than a bases empty). It could really be anything, luck included, and that's what makes keeping arms healthy a truly imperfect science.
There's one thing that the Mets cannot do. And that's shutting Harvey down through innings pitched. What they should do is monitor him on a start-to-start basis, making sure his fastball velocity is still where it should be, that he's getting the right movement on his pitches, and that he's still being effective. That's the best advice I can give.