Reveille 3/17/14

by Jason Epstein

Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your day at the office on St. Patrick’s Day a bit more bearable:

  • Two members of last year’s Athletics’ starting rotation are on the shelf with injuries: Jarrod Parker and A. J. Griffin. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle has the details.
  • The news out of Atlanta is even worse. Rant Sports’ Brian Skinnell reports on how nearly certain season-ending injuries to two startersKris Medlen, who will undergo a second Tommy John surgical procedure, and Brandon Beachy, who is likely to go under the knife as well — have impacted the Braves.
  • Manny Machado’s rehab suffered a setback, thanks to the discovery of scar tissue in his knee. With the young star now unlikely to be in the lineup on Opening Day, Camden Chat’s Mark Brown discusses the Orioles’ on-field options.
  • Despite finishing runner-up to the AL MVP and leading the bigs in WAR the past two seasons, Mike Trout isn’t yet in his prime, as Emma Span of Sports on Earth reminds us:

It used to be received baseball wisdom that players are at their peak roughly from 28 to 32 years old, but more recent research has shown that for most, it’s really more like 25 to 29. That harsh reality probably contributed to the frustration Albert Pujols showed recently, when a reporter imprudently asked him if he’s motivated to match Trout’s numbers this season. You can see where Pujols is coming from. He’s one of the greatest players of his generation — a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame even if he retired tomorrow — but still, he’s 34, well past that peak range of years, which Trout hasn’t even started yet.

In fact, precisely what gets people so excited about Mike Trout is not just that his first two seasons in the majors were so great, although they definitely were, but that they were even more remarkable considering his young age.

  • Are skippers handing out free passes to their opponents more sparingly? Apparently so, opines Fangraphs’ David G. Temple: “But something else has also happened. . . . Intentional walks are being used in more high-leverage situations than ever before. They now occur with more outs, tighter scores, and in later innings.”
  • Jim Caple of ESPN is pleased to see the all-time home-run king, Barry Bonds, back in uniform, even if it’s just for one week as a roving instructor for the Giants:

After all, Matt Williams, named in the Mitchell report, is managing the Washington Nationals. Mark McGwire, who admitted to steroid use, is the Los Angeles Dodgers’ hitting coach. Jason Giambi, linked with Bonds to BALCO, is still playing for the Cleveland Indians and is a managerial hopeful. Andy Pettitte, an acknowledged user of HGH, was also welcomed back as a guest instructor with the Yankees this spring.

So if Bonds wants to work as a coach, he should be able to do so. Whatever PEDs he used were not against the rules during the vast majority of his career, unlike doctoring the baseball, which several Hall of Fame pitchers did even though that has been specifically prohibited for almost a century. . . .

He was always viewed as a villain more for his personality than for whatever he did on or off the field. This move probably won’t affect his chances of getting voted into the Hall of Fame — McGwire’s return to the game hasn’t improved his chances — but that really isn’t the issue.

If Bonds is serious about this role, perhaps he can give back to the game. And that is far better than having the game’s all-time home run king sitting at home as a pariah who hurts the game’s image.

  • Via Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, the Tigers received lousy news over the weekend when word came down that a severe case of shin splints is likely to sideline Jose Iglesias until the All-Star Break and possibly even the entire season.  

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Right Field

Brief chronicles of our sporting times.