Big League Stew

  • World Baseball Classic 2017: Team China is just looking for a win

    Chris Cwik at Big League Stew 43 mins ago

    From now until the World Baseball Classic begins on March 6, we’ll be helping you get to know each team involved in baseball’s global tournament. Today’s entry: China

    As the 2017 World Baseball Classic is set to begin, Team China is keeping expectations low. “We come in here with the thought that we need to win a game,” manager John McLaren told MLB.com in January.

    That sounds depressing, but it’s realistic. After going winless during the first WBC, China has won exactly one game in each of the past two, and they seem just fine with that result.

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    The truth is, there’s just not a lot of talent on the roster. Former Kansas City Royals pitcher Bruce Chen is the only player with major-league experience. There are some players on the roster who have minor-league experience, but none of them have a future in the majors.

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  • Leonys Martin feared for his life after being threatened by smugglers

    Chris Cwik at Big League Stew 2 hrs ago

    Seattle Mariners outfielder Leonys Martin feared for his life after he was threatened by smugglers while trying to enter the United States. Martin told a Miami grand jury that he entered the U.S. without valid papers because his “life was in danger,” according to the Seattle Times.

    That testimony came during the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada. Both men are charged with conspiracy and alien smuggling after allegedly bringing Martin, and other baseball players, into the United States.

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    While in Cancun, Martin was threatened by men who broke into his apartment with crowbars, according to the Times.

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  • Twins reliever's pre-appearance ritual will make you queasy

    Chris Cwik at Big League Stew 3 hrs ago

    Performing any task in front of a large audience can be nerve-wracking. Even the most mundane tasks can become daunting. Failure could lead to massive embarrassment.

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    In baseball, that’s supposed to come with the job. By the time most players reach the majors, they should be used to performing in front of thousands of people. That’s why you rarely see players react strongly to every single play. They learn how to keep their nerves under control.

    Well, most of them do. For Minnesota Twins reliever Ryan O’Rourke, pitching in front of a huge crowd can be unsettling. In order to make sure he is able to keep his composure on the mound, O’Rourke participates in a pretty gross pre-appearance ritual. Before nearly every one of his 54 appearances in the majors, O’Rourke … um … expels the contents of his stomach, according to the Pioneer Press.

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  • Spring Training 2017: Dealing with the Matt Wieters fallout

    Chris Cwik at Big League Stew 22 hrs ago

    Welcome to The Stew’s Spring Headlines, our daily look at the biggest MLB stories and news items from around spring training. Here you’ll find a quick recap of all the day’s action and other fun stuff from around the internet that we think is worth your time.

    BIGGEST NEWS OF THE DAY: The Washington Nationals have agreed to sign free-agent catcher Matt Wieters to a two-year, $21 million deal. The 30-year-old Wieters hit .243/.302/.409, with 17 home runs, over 464 plate appearances with the Baltimore Orioles last season. Wieters’ deal contains an opt-out after just one year, so he could leave Washington following 2017 if he has a strong season. [The Stew]

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  • Sammy Sosa would gladly return to Cubs, but he won't beg

    Chris Cwik at Big League Stew 23 hrs ago

    The Chicago Cubs’ World Series run saw a number of franchise icons return to the limelight. One name, however, remained conspicuously absent from the festivities as the team inched toward a championship. Slugging outfielder Sammy Sosa has not returned to Wrigley Field after the two sides experienced a nasty divorce following the 2004 season.

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    In an interview with former team media relations employee Chuck Wasserstrom, Sosa made it clear that he’s willing to reunite with the Cubs, but he’s not going to beg them to take him back.

    Sosa expressed some regret over how that situation played out, telling Wasserstrom he never wanted to leave Chicago.

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  • Rob Manfred: No rule changes in 2017, but 2018 could be different

    Chris Cwik at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Rejoice, baseball purists, because the game isn’t going to change in 2017. Commissioner Rob Manfred has suggested a number of possible rule changes in recent weeks, but all of them were shot down by the MLB Players Association.

    Rob Manfred: There will not be substantive rules changes in 2017 due to “lack of cooperation from the MLBPA.”

    — Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 21, 2017

    Most of the rule changes were proposed with the idea of speeding up the game. Manfred has talked about implementing pitch clocks, getting rid of the intentional walk, altering the strike zone and even changing the way teams operate in extra innings.

    The union pushed back against all of those ideas, a point Manfred made sure to emphasize.

    While baseball will remain the same in 2017, that’s probably not going to be the case in 2018. The owners have the power to unilaterally make changes to the game starting next year, according to Manfred.

    Manfred says CBA allows owners to make unilateral changes to rules as soon as next year.

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  • World Baseball Classic 2017: Canada has a very tough road ahead

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    From now until the World Baseball Classic begins on March 6, we’ll be helping you get to know each team involved in baseball’s global tournament. Today’s entry: Canada.

    What to make of Canada in the 2017 World Baseball Classic? On one hand, the Canadians have some names you’ll definitely recognize. On the other hand, they’re almost all past their prime.

    We’re talking about a team on which Ryan Dempster and Eric Gagne are playing after more than 10 years combined away from the game. More telling, though: Canada’s pitching staff might actually need them.

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    Many of Canada’s best players are sitting this one out, including Cincinnati Reds star Joey Votto, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon, Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Michael Saunders and Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin. Martin actually isn’t playing for the team, but will join Team Canada during the tournament for moral support.

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  • Report: Nationals sign Matt Wieters to two-year, $21 million deal

    Chris Cwik at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    The Washington Nationals are pushing all their chips to the center of the table. The team went all-in Tuesday, agreeing to a two-year, $21 million deal with free-agent catcher Matt Wieters, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. The deal contains an opt-out after one year.

    The move is a surprise considering the Nationals traded for Derek Norris in December, and it was assumed he would open the season as the team’s starting catcher. Behind him, the team had Jose Lobaton and Pedro Severino, who hit an impressive .321 over 16 games last year. Catcher wasn’t a major need for Washington.

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    This move indicates how serious the Nationals are about winning a World Series before their current contention window closes. Wieters is a luxury. The team didn’t need him, but signed him anyway.

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  • Yoenis Cespedes and his excellent cars are back at spring training

    Chris Cwik at Big League Stew 2 days ago

    Blurry photos of players throwing, stories about men being in the best shape of their life and New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes pulling into a parking lot with the coolest car we’ve ever seen. These are the signs that spring training has officially arrived.

    The first two have been on display for a week now, but we finally got a glimpse at the final harbinger Monday.

    That’s Cespedes. pic.twitter.com/aIairBKJ0X

    — Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) February 20, 2017

    Ah, yes. It’s glorious. Now spring training can officially begin. It has our permission.

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  • This 41-year-old, ex-Cy Young winner is ready to make a comeback

    Chris Cwik at Big League Stew 2 days ago

    New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra once summed up baseball by saying, “it ain’t over, ’til it’s over,” but we’re not sure this is what he meant. Despite not pitching in the majors since 2008, 41-year-old, former Cy Young winner Eric Gagne believes it’s time for a comeback.

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    Gagne, who has been working with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a pitching instructor this spring, has his eyes set on a return to the mound. He’s been throwing bullpen sessions in his downtime to stay sharp, and has already thrown for both the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres.

    That second half skid was the beginning of the end for Gagne. He was awful with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008, putting up a 5.44 ERA over 46 1/3 innings. That was his final season in the majors. He was out of baseball at age-32.

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