Jeff Passan

  • 10 Degrees: Jered Weaver's fastball can't even break a Texas speed limit, and what it means for his future

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 18 hrs ago

    The radar gun never lies. It is baseball's ultimate arbitrator, impartial by nature and honest to the point of brutality. It has rendered every Jered Weaver start this season a festival of incredulity, as if there's no way he really could be throwing this slowly.

    Only here we are, in May, four full weeks of the baseball season past, and Weaver – 20-game winner and Cy Young runner-up within the past half-decade – is averaging around 83 miles per hour with his fastball. Considering the biggest in-season leap from April to the end of the year last year was 1.2 mph, the prospect of the 32-year-old Weaver regaining his velocity grows unlikelier by the day.

    In certain parts of Texas, Weaver's fastball could travel along the interstate at its regular speed and not even draw an eye-blink from a state trooper, let alone a ticket. Of the 101 regular starting pitchers this season who throw changeups, 63 have intentionally slow pitches that move faster on average than a Weaver fastball. Since baseball installed pitch-tracking systems in its stadiums a decade ago, no right-handed non-knuckleball pitcher has thrown a fastball slower than Weaver this season.

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  • 10 Degrees: Cubs are contenders as rookies thrive amid standout class

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 7 days ago

    Mark Prior was viral before viral existed, appointment viewing before the DVR, the proto-prospect. Certainly there were next big things before Prior, but his arrival with the Chicago Cubs hailed a shift in baseball, and especially baseball fandom, toward a culture in which fetishizing players before they've taken a single at-bat or thrown a single pitch in the major leagues is not just validated but expected.

    With the Chicago Cubs' cadre of prospects causing -gasms of all manner and variety at Wrigley Field, it's amazing to think Prior prompted the same sort of frenzy in a world without social media and hashtags. May 22, 2002, wasn't #PriorDay; it was the arrival of the No. 2 pick in the draft from the year before, one of the most polished college pitchers in memory, a 21-year-old who struck out 79 over the 51 minor league innings he needed before arriving. Chicago teemed with excitement and expectation that night and showed why it's every bit the equal of New York and San Francisco when the Cubs are relevant.

    If Seager can stick at shortstop – scouts think he's less equipped to do so than Correa – it's even better for the Dodgers, because in ...

  • Sources: Angels nearing deal to send Josh Hamilton to Rangers

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 10 days ago

    The Los Angeles Angels are nearing a deal that would send outfielder Josh Hamilton to the Texas Rangers, ending a tenuous relationship that boiled over after a drug relapse and reuniting the one-time star with the team with which he won an MVP award, industry sources told Yahoo Sports.

    The Rangers are expected to pay around $15 million of the more than $80 million that is owed to Hamilton through 2017, with the Angels paying the difference, sources said.

    While the return for Hamilton is unknown, it ends weeks of discussions that at one point centered on a potential buyout of  Hamilton’s contract, sources said.

    Hamilton’s Super Bowl weekend relapse followed two underperforming seasons with the Angels, and owner Arte Moreno and other team officials repeatedly voiced displeasure with Hamilton – particularly after he won a grievance and avoided suspension for violating the drug program put in place more than a decade ago.

    Hamilton has not played this season following surgery to repair the AC joint in his right shoulder. It is unclear when he is expected to join the Rangers should the deal be finalized.

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  • The Mets are back, and they want to show they're the best team in New York

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 10 days ago

    Baseball is better when the New York Mets are good, when they're winning 11 straight games and sporting the best record in the major leagues and giving the Subway Series the sort of juice it warrants. Meaningful April baseball is a tried-and-true oxymoron, and yet here we are, with baseball's biggest, baddest franchise ready to play host to the little brother that may well be its superior.

    Not since 2008 have the New York Yankees and Mets faced off during a season in which both teams were playoff contenders, a drought attributable to the Mets and Mets alone. Rebuilding carries a particularly palpable stench, and it affixed itself to the Mets for far too long. Exactly zero Mets on the active roster played in that last Subway Series of consequence. The only Yankees are Alex Rodriguez and Brett Gardner.

    Their divergence since is stark, and it speaks to the care with which the Mets have constructed themselves. Forget the winning streak, which is dotted with mediocre opposing starters. Look more at the health of the franchise, and this much is clear: The Mets are in a far better position than the Yankees, now and for the foreseeable future.

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  • 10 Degrees: Should Yanks pay A-Rod $6M bonus for reaching Willie Mays' 660 HR mark?

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago

    Trouble always finds Alex Rodriguez, even when he's doing everything he can to avoid it. Of the many surprises since the baseball season dawned in February, among the unlikeliest has been A-Rod, good citizen. He took his punishment for steroid use, lying and general chicanery, mended his body and returned as an exemplary teammate who happens to be swinging like a near-prime version of himself.

    Every whit of success comes with a price, of course. With his four home runs this season – every one of them a no-doubter, lest anyone think he's just sneaking balls over the fence – Rodriguez stands two swings away from tying Willie Mays' 660 mark for fourth on the all-time home run list. Once he hits the mark, it triggers a clause in his contract that calls for a $6 million bonus.

    The details are integral in adjudicating a case, which will be necessary if the Yankees challenge it, which, barring something, they will, and whether Rodriguez then files a grievance, which, considering his litigious past, remains likelier than not. He could leave well enough alone, but then would he really be Alex Rodriguez if he did that?

    No precedent exists in this case, leaving it in the hands of …

  • 10 Degrees: The ugliness of the Dodgers' TV mess

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 21 days ago

    For the second straight season, the highest-paid baseball team in history can’t be seen legally by more than 70 percent of its viewing audience, and everyone involved seems more than content to let the impasse fester on. Every last bit of it reeks of greed from Time Warner Cable, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Major League Baseball, who have skipped past the stage of caring about the team’s fans and sequestered themselves inside a bubble where this is still a fight worth fighting.

    It must be lonely in there. Because the inevitability of change, of admitting this is a lost cause that needs to be remedied, grows more evident by the day. Time Warner promised $8.3 billion for 25 years of local TV rights for the Dodgers. It was a ridiculous overpay that forced an ask of around $5 a month from other Los Angeles-area pay-TV providers to carry SportsNet LA, the network that broadcasts the Dodgers. Every satellite and cable provider refused.

    The longer they wait in hopes DirecTV and Dish Network and local cable companies relent and pay the asking price for SportsNet LA, the more the ...

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    It’s 2015. That’s not too much to ask.

  • Not too early for 3-0 Royals to take pride in fast start

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 24 days ago

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Inside the clubhouse that housed the team still seeking its first victory in the 2015 season, Chicago White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton spoke for the winless and small-sample advocates everywhere when he intoned: "Who gives a crap about the first three games?" And he was right. To get worked up over 1.85 percent of the season is like jamming to the opening riff of "Under Pressure" only to keep listening and realize it's "Ice Ice Baby."

    Forgive the Kansas City Royals, then, for their tack following Thursday afternoon's 4-1 victory over Chicago, which pushed the defending American League champions to 3-0 while the overhauled White Sox, of the $150 million in spending and big-ticket trades, bore the wounds of a good beating. The Royals, it turns out, do give a crap about these three games, which count every bit as much as the ones in September do, even if the standings today mean nothing.

  • How bad were the Yankees on opening day? Well, A-Rod was the bright spot

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 28 days ago

    NEW YORK – The finest moment of opening day for the New York Yankees came when their soon-to-be-40-year-old designated hitter, returning from a year-long suspension for copious steroid use, laced a single into right-center field. And because this was Game 1 of a six-month journey, and the Yankees have 161 more to rid the acrid taste of a 6-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, lending any sort of significance to a singular game is folly.

    But.

    The Yankees have more buts than Sir Mix-A-Lot. Their rotation could be great … but keeping it healthy is a chore. Their lineup could hit … but they spend too much time searching for their dentures. They do play in a wide-open American League East … but they picked the wrong year to start the season with weaknesses.

    Their Kardashian-sized but is instead a limb, simple and fragile, partially broken already, just waiting for the day the rest goes. It belongs to Masahiro Tanaka, and he was the greatest culprit Monday, yielding five runs in four innings while barely showcasing a fastball because it wasn’t worth throwing.

    “Because they were being hit,” Tanaka said.

  • Fans urinate in Cubs merchandise as season starts woefully for franchise

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 28 days ago

    CHICAGO – On the bright side of the 30-minute-long bathroom lines at an under-renovation Wrigley Field that forced desperate patrons to relieve themselves in empty cups and corners of the venerable old ballpark, at least they didn't have to watch what unfolded on the field beneath them.

    This is what progress looks like. It is ugly, it is unseemly, it is bumpy and it is uncomfortable. Rest assured: The ascendant Chicago Cubs will have plenty more nights like Sunday, when they opened the 2015 baseball season with a 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals that saw them strand 13 runners in scoring position with nary a hit to show for it. Turning from an also-ran into a contender, which the Cubs assuredly will be in the coming years, does not follow a linear path.

    Instead, the stands buzzed with the same conversation throughout the upper deck and lower concourse: How long did you have to wait?

    "We don't need marble walls, marble floors, white-glove attendants handing you gum and perfume and towels," Diaz said. "No, just give me a hole to [pee] in. A mud hut."

  • Sources: Carlos Carrasco agrees to 4-year contract with Indians

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 29 days ago

    Right-hander Carlos Carrasco and the Cleveland Indians agreed on a four-year contract worth around $22 million, capping the pitcher’s incredible rise and locking up another piece of a strong Indians rotation, sources told Yahoo Sports.

    The deal includes Carrasco’s 2015 salary of around $2.34 million and tacks on three more seasons, running through Carrasco's first year of free agency. It also includes club options for two more seasons, potentially keeping Carrasco with the Indians through 2020. The agreement, which is pending a physical, comes a day after reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber agreed to a five-year extension with two club options.

    A late bloomer like Kluber, the 28-year-old Carrasco was demoted to Triple-A by Cleveland in July 2013, the nadir of a long fall from top prospect to washout. He resurfaced in Cleveland’s bullpen at the beginning of the 2014 season, posted a 2.30 ERA and followed with a star turn over the final two months of the season: In his final 10 starts, Carrasco struck out 78, walked 11 and had a 1.30 ERA over 69 innings.

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