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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Baseball

Adam Wainwright predicts MLB strike, fears players walking out midseason

Bryce Harper

MLB owners appear to once again be taking a stand this offseason against handing out massive long-term contracts to star free agents, and one veteran player is convinced the practice is going to eventually result in a work stoppage.

Longtime St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainright said Friday that he is “100 percent” certain there is going to be a strike if MLB owners don’t show more of a willingness to pay players. The 37-year-old said he’s concerned it could happen in the middle of a season.

Wainwright went on to criticize owners for placing too much emphasis on analytics and placing everything in a “sabermetric box” without taking intangibles into consideration.

The biggest issue, of course, is whether or not team owners are working together to keep the price of free agents down. That would be collusion, which is illegal. However, there’s a good chance officials have simply realized there’s no need to be paying a player like Albert Pujols $28 million when he’s 39 and batting .245.

Wainwright is not the only veteran player who has gone off about free agency recently, but it doesn’t seem like a change is coming anytime soon. In all likelihood, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are going to get less money than they were seeking. While that could be the result of collusion, it could also be that teams are getting wiser.

Orioles’ Chris Davis predicting bounceback season

Chris Davis

The Baltimore Orioles signed Chris Davis to a seven-year, $161 million deal prior to the 2016 season, and ever since then his statistics have been on a downward slide.

Davis, however, believes that he can still be the player the Orioles invested in, and at the start of spring training, he feels like he’s found his swing again.

Davis never hit for an exceptionally high average, but he was a safe bet for 30 home runs at a minimum and hit 53 in 2013. In 2018, not only did he only hit .168, but he hit just 16 home runs, the worst power numbers of his career. That was enough to get him benched at one point.

This is a lot of early spring optimism at play. Davis turns 33 in March, and while it’s not impossible that he’s suddenly going to become a 40-homer guy again, it’s probably very unlikely.

Luis Severino, Yankees avoid arbitration with new four-year contract

Luis Severino

The New York Yankees and Luis Severino had an arbitration hearing scheduled for later this month to determine the star pitcher’s salary for 2019, but that will no longer be necessary.

According to numerous reports, the Yankees have signed Severino to a four-year, $40 million extension. The deal includes a team option for a fifth season.

Severino has been the Yankees’ best pitcher over the past two seasons and is poised to be the ace of their staff for years to come. He went 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA last year. The deal he signed with New York is very similar to the one Aaron Nola got from the Philadelphia Phillies this week that also allowed him to avoid arbitration.

While he faded down the stretch a bit last year following the All-Star break, Severino has reportedly taken steps this offseason to assure that does not happen again in 2019.

Alex Bregman defends comments about wanting to beat Boston

Alex Bregman

Alex Bregman recently expressed how badly he wants to beat the Boston Red Sox this upcoming season, which makes sense given that they won the World Series and defeated the Houston Astros along the way. But, for some reason, the star third baseman feels the need to defend himself over the remarks.

While speaking with reporters on Thursday, Bregman said he found it “crazy” how his commentary about wanting to beat the Red Sox went viral.

Bregman spoke about the subject on the “Going Deep with Chad and JT” podcast. What people really found noteworthy was that he said he wants to end Boston’s reign of terror after the New England Patriots won yet another Super Bowl just months after the Red Sox won the World Series. Had he just said he wanted to exact revenge on the Red Sox, the reaction probably would have been a bit different.

Remember, Bregman is the guy who trolled a Red Sox pitcher during the ALCS last year. That was before that same pitcher dominated his team and the Astros lost the series 4-1. Because of that, anything he says about Boston is probably going to make headlines.

Angels P Matt Harvey is already hurt

Matt harvey

Matt Harvey’s Los Angeles Angels career is off to a stellar start.

Pitchers and catchers just reported to spring training this week, and Harvey already hurt himself. He will be out a week and a half after straining his glute on Wednesday, according to the OC Register’s Jeff Fletcher.

Harvey did say the injury is not bad and he would play through it if it were the season, but he’s taking time off to recover since it’s not.

Harvey signed a one-year deal with the Angels over the offseason that pays him $11 million and as much as $14 million based on incentives. The 29-year-old pitcher went 7-9 with a 4.94 ERA last season.

Astros’ Gerrit Cole has harsh stance against ‘opener’ strategy

Gerrit Cole

Yet another pitcher has come out against the new “opener” pitching strategy.

Last season, the Tampa Bay Rays began regularly using a relief pitcher to start a game before handing things over to more of a long-inning starter type. The strategy, called using an “opener,” started being used somewhat regularly. The Oakland A’s even used it in the playoffs.

Even though the strategy is catching on, some players are strongly against it. Houston Astros starter Gerrit Cole ripped openers, saying he’s not paying to see a “math equation.”

That’s a jab at the analytical side of things, which is how the idea was popularized.

Cole isn’t the only pitcher opposed to openers. Giants starter Madison Bumgarner told manager Bruce Bochy he would walk out of the park if they tried to use an opener.

“If you’re using an opener in my game, I’m walking right out of the ballpark,” Bumgarner told Bochy.

Cole says that response would be extreme, but he still would not be alright with it.

Though it’s easy to treat players like statistics, this is a reminder that these are competitive athletes who want the ball and want to dominate every time it’s their turn to take the mound. That’s part of what makes them great.

Johnny Cueto’s beloved horse died from eating poisonous grasshoppers

Johnny Cueto

Johnny Cueto shared the sad news on Instagram this week that his beloved horse Popeye had died. The death of his pet has affected the pitcher and was a topic of conversation at San Francisco Giants spring training on Thursday.

According to The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly, Cueto said that Popeye died from eating poisonous grasshoppers.

This isn’t the first time there has been a tragic death for one of Cueto’s horses. Back in 2016, his previous horse in the Dominic Republic, also named Popeye, died.

What a tough way for Cueto to enter the season.