Mike Oz

  • Simulator says: Cubs hurt playoff chances by demoting Kris Bryant

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 22 hrs ago

    Take this with as many grains of salt as you take any kind of predictions this time of year: PredictionMachine.com has calculated that by sending down uber prospect Kris Bryant, the Chicago Cubs have hurt their playoff chances by 7.5 percent.

    PredictionMachine.com runs something it calls The Predictalator, which simulates games 50,000 times to gather the most accurate predictions. 

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    In the case of Bryant — who was demoted Monday, mostly because putting him in the minors to start the season will push back his free agency a year — The Predictalator says the Cubs have made a mistake that will cost them 1.4 wins this season. It lowers their playoff chances from 53.2 percent to 45.7 percent.

  • The Phillies are selling liquor and wine now, so fans can drown their sorrows

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    The Philadelphia Phillies aren't going to be any good this season and everybody knows it. Fans are prepared for it. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. admitted recently the team is going to have trouble scoring runs. Even Aramark, the Citizens Bank Park concessionaire, seems to be in agreement.

    Or maybe that's just a keen inference on our part.

    Aramark and the Phillies announced Tuesday that this season they'll be selling booze at Citizens Bank Park's general concessions areas for the first time. Beer they already sold, but liquor and wine were only available in the fancier parts of the ballpark, like the premium seats. Not any more.

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    • Amaro Island Iced Tea — nobody likes this drink, but somehow it's still on the menu.

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  • Reds open nursing suite to help breast-feeding moms at the ballpark

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    The Cincinnati Reds announced a new ballpark feature Monday that any mother will love: A nursing suite where breast-feeding moms can retreat during a game for a more comfortable, more private moment with their child.

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    Phil Castellini, the Reds' chief operating officer, told ESPN that the club had an increasing number of women asking for a better place to nurse. Pro sports stadiums are loud, crowded and sometimes sticky — so finding a serene place is a bit of a challenge. As a father of five, Castellini knew this was a serious demand, so the Reds created something special at Great American Ball Park.

    "It just didn't make sense that we would put a couple chairs in the women's bathrooms," Castellini told ESPN.

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  • Mets swing two trades to strengthen their bullpen

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 2 days ago

    With a week between them and opening day, the New York Mets pulled off two trades Monday that should strengthen their bullpen.

    The club acquired Alex Torres from the San Diego Padres earlier in the day, then swung a deal to get Jerry Blevins from the Washington Nationals on Monday afternoon.

    Both are left-handed relievers, a scarce quantity on the Mets roster before this. Sean Gilmartin, a Rule 5 draft pick from the Minnesota Twins, was the only lefty reliever still with the club at this juncture of spring training. Gilmartin is 24 and has never pitched in the big leagues. He had a 5.19 ERA in 10 Grapefruit League appearances. 

    The price for the Mets' late-March shopping spree? Matt dan Dekker, a backup outfielder, is going to the Nats, while pitching prospect Cory Mazzoni and a player to be named later are headed to the Padres. All in all, not too bad. 

    Just like that, #Mets looking at carrying not one, not two, but THREE lefties in their Opening Day bullpen: Blevins, Alex Torres, Gilmartin.

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  • AL Central 2015 preview: Indians, White Sox, Royals eager to dethrone Tigers

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 2 days ago

    With opening day approaching, the Big League Stew crew is here to get you up to speed on the season ahead. We're examining each division over the next two weeks, looking at the big questions, the important players and making our predictions. Our series continues with the AL Central.

    So many unknowns in the AL Central this year: Are the Detroit Tigers, the four-year reigning champs, still the power of the division? Will the Kansas City Royals, the wild card Cinderellas of last year, make a postseason run again? Can the Chicago White Sox, big movers and shakers in the offseason, challenge for the crown?

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    As you can see, the AL Central is a particularly stacked division that should be one of the best races to watch this year. We don’t have all the answers, because it’s March and nobody does. But The Stew’s Chris Cwik, Mike Oz and Mark Townsend are here to delve deeper into what's happening in the AL Central.

  • Justin Verlander takes selfie with unsuspecting Justin Verlander fan

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 5 days ago

    "Hey, kid, turn around!" 

    It's hard to look at Justin Verlander's latest selfie and not immediately have that reaction. You see, Verlander snapped a pic with a kid in a Verlander shirsey inside a Starbucks. Only the kid was turned around looking at the barista and not the guy whose name was on his back.

    "Kid, turn around, hurry!"

    Roy Halladay did something similar at an amusement park in January, but that was with a fully grown fan. For the sake of the kid, we're happy to pass along that Verlander said the kid was surprised when he turned around. We hope Verlander signed the kid's coffee cup or something. (Wait, why is that kid in a Starbucks line, shouldn't he be in school?!)

    Nonetheless, we've decided this could be a great scavenger-hunt type game for pro athletes — trying to find fans wearing their jerseys out in the wild. Like at a coffee shop. Or the mall. Or a grocery store. We'd definitely enjoy the pictures.

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  • Brady Aiken, unsigned No. 1 draft pick, announces he had Tommy John surgery

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 5 days ago

    The wild story of prized pitching prospect Brady Aiken just got wilder: Aiken, 18, announced Thursday that he had Tommy John surgery this week, seven months after he failed to come to terms with the Houston Astros as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 amateur draft.

    At the time, there was a dispute about the health of Aiken's elbow. The two sides had reportedly reached an agreement with a $6.5 million signing bonus. But after Aiken's physical, the Astros said they weren't happy with what they saw in his elbow. Believing he would need Tommy John surgery soon, the Astros reportedly lowered their offer to $5 million.

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  • Ex-Cardinal Curt Ford attacked near St. Louis, told 'go back to Ferguson'

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 6 days ago

    Curt Ford, a St. Louis Cardinals outfielder from 1985-1988, was the victim in an alleged racially motivated attack Wednesday at a St. Louis-area gas station. Ford was punched in the face and, according to police, was told by his attacker: "Go back to Ferguson you (racial slur)."

    The attack happened at a Petro Mart gas station in Fenton, Mo., about 28 miles from Ferguson, the St. Louis suburb that was the epicenter of protests and racial turmoil after Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer there last August. 

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    According to police, Ford was minding his business when his attacker — who was later arrested and identified as 37-year-old James Street — blind-sided him with a punch as they were both inside gas station's store. 

    Prosecutors charged Street with one count of assault motivated by discrimination in the third degree, a class D felony. His criminal history includes guilty pleas for possession of marijuana and assault. 

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  • Is baseball dying? Nope, actually the values of MLB teams are skyrocketing

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 7 days ago

    There's a common belief among some sports fans that baseball is a dying game, mostly because the NFL gets more attention year-round. But the numbers say otherwise. Baseball isn't dying. In fact, the values of MLB teams are growing at an astounding rate.

    Forbes published its annual list of MLB team values and profits Wednesday, and here's the big headline: Baseball has never been so profitable and teams have never been so valuable.

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    Among the interesting takeaways:

    • The Yankees had the highest revenue last year, with $508 million, but only $8.1 million of that was profit, according to Forbes.

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  • The Astros 2017 World Series ring: the best giveaway that never happened

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 7 days ago

    The dream is dead. What was certainly the boldest baseball giveaway of the year — the 2017 Houston Astros replica World Series ring dreamed up by their Triple-A affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies — is no more. Maybe it was too bold?

    Not even a full day after the Grizzlies unveiled the rings as part of their Aug. 15 "Back to the Future" promotion, the team announced it was shelving the idea and thinking of something else to give away that night. The official explanation: They didn't want to "jinx" the Astros.

    From the Grizzlies' press release:

     “We appreciate that our affiliate is as optimistic as our fans are about the future of the Astros,” said Astros president Reid Ryan. “The Grizzlies will see some of the Astros top talent coming through Chukchansi Park, and we wish their whole team the best of luck in the upcoming 2015 season.”