Tag: Brandon McCarthy

Brandon McCarthy Trade Rumors: Latest News and Speculation on Dodgers Pitcher

The Los Angeles Dodgers are looking to make a splash on the open market during the offseason, and Buster Olney of ESPN The Magazine reported that they are shopping right-handed pitcher Brandon McCarthy in an effort to create additional space on the 40-man roster. 

Continue for updates.

Trading McCarthy Could Clear Room for Hill

Sunday, Dec. 4

Olney noted Los Angeles’ 40-man roster sits at 39, which means the team would have to free some space in order to sign free-agent pitcher Rich Hill and other players. Trading McCarthy would help it do just that.

This comes after Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register said the Dodgers and Hill were “closing in on [a] multi-year deal,” which could increase the urgency to trade McCarthy or Scott Kazmir, who Olney also noted was being shopped.

It is not surprising Los Angeles is looking to bring back Hill after he posted a 1.83 ERA and 0.79 WHIP in six starts for the team down the stretch. He also anchored the rotation in the playoffs alongside Clayton Kershaw and finished with a 3.46 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 19 strikeouts in three starts.

It makes sense to trade McCarthy to ensure there’s enough space to re-sign Hill, but Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors said moving the righty would be about more than just the roster space. Polishuk said only Kershaw, Kenta Maeda and Julio Urias are locks to be in Los Angeles’ rotation in 2017 and that trading McCarthy may force the team to look within at options such as Alex Wood and Jose De Leon.

From other teams’ perspectives, trading for McCarthy would come with some red flags.

McCarthy—who has pitched for the Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics, Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Yankees and Dodgers since entering the league in 2005—made just four starts in 2015 and 10 in 2016 because of Tommy John surgery. He finished the 2016 campaign with an unspectacular 4.95 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 44 strikeouts in 40 innings.

He has just two seasons with a sub-4.00 ERA in his entire career, and they came in back-to-back efforts in 2011 and 2012 with Oakland. McCarthy will also turn 34 years old during the 2017 season and is likely well past his prime.

It is difficult to envision there will be significant interest in McCarthy from teams unless they see him as a reclamation project who is available as a trade chip for relatively cheap.

Polishuk did say the starting pitcher market is thin in terms of free agency this offseason, so teams desperate for depth could look his way. He did combine for 196 strikeouts in 280.2 innings in 2011 and 2012 with 3.32 and 3.24 ERAs respectively, but that was before the surgery that has limited him in the second half of his career.

There is plenty of risk involved with acquiring McCarthy, which could force Los Angeles to lower any asking price to accelerate a trade.

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With Brandon McCarthy’s 2015 Over, Dodgers Must Make Moves to Address Rotation

It’s a good thing the Los Angeles Dodgers have arguably the best one-two pitching punch in Major League Baseball with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke atop their staff. They’re going to need it.

In the wake of the lingering-since-spring-training left-shoulder injury to southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu, expected to be the club’s third starter, and the more recent, more severe season-ending elbow tear suffered Saturday night by No. 4 starter Brandon McCarthy, the contending Dodgers are going to have to address their rapidly eroding rotation.

And probably sooner than later, as Bill Plunkett of the Los Angeles Times puts it:

McCarthy, who signed a lucrative contract with L.A. as a free agent this past offseason, left his outing over the weekend in the sixth inning of a game the Dodgers eventually won over the San Diego Padres.

Immediately after throwing a pitch that Justin Upton hit for a home run, the tall righty began to shake his right arm and then called the club’s coaching staff and trainers out to the mound. After a brief discussion, McCarthy came out.

“I expected [McCarthy] to go on the DL [Monday], but we thought more along the lines of tendinitis than something like [a torn ulnar collateral ligament],” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Monday in his interview with reporters. “I felt like that’s what I was going to hear, then we would have to fill [in for McCarthy] for a little bit of time and get back to it. But obviously, the news was not good.”

The expectation is that McCarthy will need to undergo Tommy John surgery, per Earl Bloom of MLB.com, which could keep him out through the first half of 2016.

Meanwhile, the NL West-leading Dodgers (12-7) are merely very early in the first half of 2015, and already a team that has won the division each of the past two years and has World Series hopes needs to be searching for pitching depth either internally or possibly via trade between now and July 31.

Oh, and the Dodgers also have to keep their fingers crossed that Kershaw and Greinke can sustain the status quo as two of the sport’s very best and most durable.

After those two, the only other pitcher projected to be a part of the rotation at the outset of the season is Brett Anderson, who might well be the most injury-prone starting pitcher in baseball in recent years.

Over the previous three seasons, the 27-year-old left-hander has made just 19 starts and thrown all of 123 innings—combined. Anderson more or less is a disabled-list stint waiting to happen, but now the Dodgers need him to be a somewhat stable third option behind the top two.

That is, at least until Ryu returns. The 28-year-old Korean lefty, who was both good and steady in his first two seasons, is making progress but very slowly as he comes back from a shoulder impingement. Ryu threw 20 pitches off a mound Sunday in his first action since being shut down in mid-March, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

As for McCarthy, it’s not like he has been the pillar of health, which is why it was surprising to many when the Dodgers inked him not only for $48 million but also for four years this winter.

The 31-year-old has pitched in parts of 10 seasons in the majors, and only last year did McCarthy finally make it past 25 starts and over 175 innings in a single one. He has been on the DL a Ferris Bueller-like nine times.

Still, the Dodgers, in all likelihood, could have been anticipating some sort of ailment or injury for McCarthy—just not one of the season-ending variety. And certainly not after just four starts.

That leaves Mattingly and, especially, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman to scramble to find a way to make up for about, oh, 28 turns and 180 or so innings. And that’s just for McCarthy.

A peek at L.A.’s 40-man roster shows the following names as potential fill-ins, at least in the short term:

  • Scott Baker, a 33-year-old veteran who sports a 4.24 career ERA and who last made even 10 starts in 2011
  • Mike Bolsinger, who already has made one start for the Dodgers in 2015 but otherwise is 27 years old and in his third season at Triple-A
  • Zach Lee, 23, the club’s first-round pick in 2010 who is off to a strong start at Oklahoma City (1.00 ERA, 0.84 WHIP) but who has yet to debut and is considered a mid-rotation arm at best
  • Joe Wieland, a 25-year-old the Dodgers acquired along with Yasmani Grandal from the Padres in the Matt Kemp deal who has 39 career innings in the majors

There’s also Brandon Beachy, the once-promising Atlanta Braves right-hander who is trying to return from a second Tommy John surgery by this summer.

In other words: not a whole heck of a lot. Until Friedman can come up with a more stable solution, expect the above four to be on call, possibly shuttling back and forth between L.A. and OKC.

Longer term, there’s at least a possibility, it would seem, that top prospect/phenom Julio Urias could be called upon at some point.

But even if the precocious left-hander continues tearing up Double-A at age 18 (20.2 IP, 13 H, 5 ER, 26:3 K:BB), that likely wouldn’t happen until after the All-Star break. And even then, maybe only if things don’t get better for Ryu or go south once again for Anderson. Baseball America managing editor JJ Cooper offered this about Urias:

That leaves external options via trade. There will be—scratch that, there already is, per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times—chatter and speculation about the usual suspects, like Johnny Cueto of the Cincinnati Reds, Jordan Zimmermann of the Washington Nationals or Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies. And any of those three, among others, are possible targets down the line.

But the Friedman-led front office has indicated in the past that there’s no interest in trading one of the franchise’s top two building-block prospects, shortstop Corey Seager or Urias, when both are massive talents on the verge of helping the big league club at minimal cost. Such a big-name pitcher is going to require a big-time return. Says USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale:

Could desperation in the form of a setback with Ryu or another injury to Anderson—or worse, Kershaw or Greinke—change that? Sure, but that remains to be seen.

Perhaps rather than honing in on another star starter, the Dodgers would be better served targeting one or two capable mid-rotation arms. Someone like Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Kyle Lohse, Oakland Athletics lefty Scott Kazmir or Reds righty Mike Leake, to name a few.

None of those three are sexy superstars the Dodgers have come to be associated with, but they’re all proven pitchers who would be major improvements over what L.A. currently is calling the back end of its rotation. What’s more, all three are free agents after the season, which would make them much easier gets, and that’s up Friedman’s alley.

Besides, with a one-two like Kershaw and Greinke, and with Ryu eventually as the No. 3, the Dodgers don’t need another star-caliber starter. They do, however, need innings.


Statistics are accurate through Monday, April 27, and courtesy of MLB.comBaseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

To talk baseball or fantasy baseball help, hit me up on Twitter: @JayCat11

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Early Grades for the Dodgers’ Offseason Acquisitions

The Los Angeles Dodgers made headlines this offseason with a flurry of personnel moves. Three weeks into the 2015 season, these recent additions have provided varying contributions.

Although the sample size is still relatively small, we’ve decided to hand out an April report card for the newest Boys in Blue.

This evaluation follows the order in which Los Angeles acquired these players during the winter.

All stats courtesy of ESPN.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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Reassessing the Dodgers’ Offseason Plan and Breaking Down What’s Next

It didn’t take long for the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ new front office to leave its mark on the city and franchise this offseason.

In a span of 24 hours during the recent winter meetings, President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi orchestrated deals that saw the Dodgers plug a hole at shortstop, replace their All-Star second baseman and dump a former franchise cornerstone seemingly without a moment’s hesitation.

When the dust settled, it appeared Los Angeles had improved its roster in a variety of ways—albeit perhaps more subtly than usual. And if last week’s flurry was any indication, the new conductors of this Dodgers train surely have more up their sleeve between now and the start of spring training.


Advanced Metrics

The hiring of Friedman and Zaidi shortly after the Dodgers were eliminated early in October signaled a cultural shift within the organization.

Both staunch believers in the concept of advanced metrics, Friedman and Zaidi cultivated the practice in the small markets of Tampa Bay and Oakland, respectively, where a lack of financial flexibility called for shrewd, cost-effective baseball decisions.

In fact, Zaidi spent time working directly under Athletics general manager Billy Beane, who gained national recognition through Michael Lewis’ 2003 book, Moneyball, and the 2011 film of the same name.

When analyzing the metrics of the Dodgers roster they inherited from former general manager Ned Colletti, Friedman and Zaidi probably noticed that the defense could use some work. After all, there was a gaping hole at shortstop. Los Angeles chose not to re-sign Hanley Ramirez primarily because of his defensive shortcomings.

A common barometer used to value a player’s defense is a metric called defensive runs saved (DRS). Zero is considered average, 10 is great and minus-10 is poor. According to Fangraphs, Ramirez ranked 29th among all shortstops who played at least 500 innings at the position last season with minus-nine DRS.

When Ramirez commanded a contract that the Dodgers probably deemed too expensive given his age and declining defense, Friedman and Zaidi opted to go in a different direction. Rather than completely sacrifice offense by rolling the dice on a sure-handed, yet unproven, in-house option like Erisbel Arruebarrena, the Dodgers acquired Jimmy Rollins from the Philadelphia Phillies, per ESPN’s Buster Olney

Last season, Rollins ranked 10th in DRS among shortstops with at least 500 innings under their belt, per Fangraphs. He also produced a higher on-base percentage, four more home runs and 14 more stolen bases than Ramirez.

For a moment, it looked like Rollins and second baseman Dee Gordon were going to constitute the 2015 double-play combination for the Dodgers. But Los Angeles then traded their all-star infielder to the Miami Marlins in exchange for four prospects, per Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.

The major haul for the Dodgers in the deal was Andrew Heaney, MLB.com’s top-ranked pitching prospect in all of baseball heading into 2014. Heaney didn’t stick around very long, though, as Los Angeles quickly flipped the southpaw across town in exchange for the Angels veteran second baseman Howie Kendrick.

Yes, the Dodgers gave up a dynamic game-changer in the speedy Gordon. But upon closer inspection, Kendrick’s .347 on-base percentage trumped Gordon’s in 2014. As the old saying goes, “You can’t steal first base.”

Moreover, Kendrick’s DRS ranked seventh among all second basemen with at least 500 innings played last season, per Fangraphs. Gordon’s minus-five DRS ranked 25th.


Saving Money

Although Friedman and Zaidi now have more money to work with than they ever could have dreamed of in Tampa and Oakland, the pair remains committed to their cost-effective approach to improving the team.

Financial flexibility was lacking within the Dodgers organization last season. Former general manager Ned Colletti shoulders some of the blame for that reality, as does the Guggenheim Baseball Management ownership group that gave Colletti permission to dole out massive player contracts in order to re-establish the Dodgers’ brand following the tumultuous Frank McCourt era.

Los Angeles’ Opening Day payroll in 2014 came out to $229.3 million, the highest in the majors.

Regarding the 30-year-old Ramirez, the Dodgers were simply not willing to give him anything close to the $88 million over four years that he received from the Boston Red Sox last month.

The Dodgers’ top prospect, Corey Seager, plays shortstop but by all accounts, will not be ready for full-time MLB service until 2016. That’s why Los Angeles nabbed Rollins, a player whose contract comes off the books following the 2015 season but someone who should make for a quality stopgap next year.

One of the loftiest contracts that Colletti handed out was the eight-year, $160-million commitment to Matt Kemp. Not only did the outfielder miss most of 2012 and 2013 due to various injuries, those same injuries had seemingly sapped Kemp of his defensive capability. According to FangraphsKemp registered a minus-23 in DRS, the worst among qualifying MLB outfielders in 2014.

Kemp’s hefty contract and poor defensive metrics contradicted two of the central ideals that Friedman and Zaidi champion.

It’s why Kemp was a prime piece to be moved in a trade, and that’s exactly what the Dodgers did when they sent him to the San Diego Padres in exchange for catcher Yasmani Grandal, pitcher Joe Wieland and pitching prospect Zach Eflin, per Kirk Kenney and Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

It also helped that Kemp’s value was higher than it had been in three years because of his resurgent second half at the plate in 2014.

Los Angeles agreed to eat $32 million of the $107 million remaining on Kemp’s contract, thereby immediately freeing up $75 million while reducing the well-documented outfield logjam at Dodger Stadium.

For good measure, the Dodgers recently agreed to deals with starting pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and ESPN’s Buster Olney. The common denominator between McCarthy and Anderson—besides being Twitter-savvy—is that they are both former Athletics and thus catch the eye of Zaidi.

While it can be argued that McCarthy’s four-year $48-million contract is excessive for a pitcher with a career 4.09 ERA, Friedman and Zaidi may be looking a little deeper. Sure, McCarthy’s most recent work was a stellar second half of 2014 with the Yankees. Even that might be an anomaly, though. Historically, McCarthy has struggled in hitter-friendly parks like Yankee Stadium.

But what about spacious parks like Dodger Stadium?

A reasonable comparison is O.co Coliseum, home of the A’s. McCarthy’s ERA during his two seasons with Oakland was lower than it has been with any other team throughout his nine-year career. As a No. 4 starter in Los Angeles, there will also be less pressure on McCarthy. Plus he will be working with one of the game’s best pitching coaches in Rick Honeycutt.

Anderson’s $10 million deal is incentive-laden due to his extensive injury history. But Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register points out an interesting piece of information that gives this signing the potential to be another cost-saving steal for the Dodgers in today’s high-stakes pitching market:

Although there is major injury risk associated with Anderson, Los Angeles appears confident the can provide better upside than Dan Haren, who was shipped to Miami in the Gordon deal.


What’s Next?

Whenever a team pulls off six transactions involving 17 players in a matter of two days, it’s probably a good bet that more moves are on the way.

The Dodgers certainly addressed some issues—filling out the back end of the starting rotation, finding a replacement at shortstop and replenishing the farm system—but what’s to say these recent acquisitions will even make it to spring training wearing Dodger blue?

Just ask Andrew Heaney or Stan Kasten.

The Dodgers president recently shared similar sentiments with Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register:

I’ve always said to my GMs, the roster you have in December or January is not the roster you’ll need or want or have in August or September or October. They’re always going to be needs that arise, holes that have to be filled, adjustments or improvements that you need to make. So whatever you do, don’t ever think you’re finished.

One option that has been dangled around the league and whose name always seems linked to the Dodgers is Cole Hamels. The veteran Phillies southpaw will turn 31 later this month and is owed $94 million over the next four years.

With statistically comparable pitchers Max Scherzer and James Shields set to rake in contracts north of $100 million, Friedman and Zaidi might view Hamels as a bargain, and they’ve clearly shown how much they like a good bargain.

The additions of McCarthy and Anderson would seemingly take Los Angeles out of the Hamels sweepstakes, but if the Dodgers are willing to dump a resurgent fan favorite in Kemp, there’s no telling what the team might do if it means a better chance at reeling in a pitcher like Hamels.

Stay tuned.


All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise linked/noted.

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5 Dream Free-Agent Pickups for the Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox figure to be active players in the free-agent market, and they’ll need to be if they hope to compete once more in 2015.

The Red Sox need to add significant pieces to their starting rotation. They need to shore up their bullpen. And they must seriously considering pursuing upgrades at the hot corner and at backup catcher, too.

With a glut of young talent, live arms and outfielders, the Red Sox can fill some of these holes by turning to the trade market. Yet more are likely to be filled through free agency, as the Red Sox have plenty of cash to work with.

In fact, by WEEI.com’s Alex Speier‘s estimates, the Red Sox had about $52 million to spend this offseason. They’ve already spent $9 million of that retaining Koji Uehara, but that leaves plenty of cash left for one or two major acquisitions and some minor moves, too.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at five free-agent “dream acquisitions” for the Red Sox. Keep in mind that these perfect deals exist independent of one another, and that they certainly represent best-case scenarios for the Red Sox.

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Brandon McCarthy’s Rebirth Keying Yankees’ Defiant Postseason Chase

Where would the Yankees be right now if not for Brandon McCarthy?

With CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova out for the season with injuries, and Masahiro Tanaka on the disabled list attempting to stave off Tommy John surgery, the Yankees decided to acquire McCarthy from the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 6 in exchange for left-hander Vidal Nuno.

Since then, McCarthy, 31, has provided much-needed stability to a depleted Yankees rotation, going 4-1 with a 2.21 ERA and 36-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 36.2 innings over six starts. Meanwhile, his performance has allowed the team to stay in the postseason hunt, as they’re currently 61-57 overall and chasing the Tigers for a Wild Card by only three games.

At face value, the right-hander’s season isn’t particularly impressive; he’s lost 11 of his 24 starts, allowed 171 hits in 146.1 innings and owns an overall ERA of 4.31. However, a deeper look McCarthy’s numbers this year tells a much different story.

For example, though McCarthy sports a 4.31 ERA, his FIP (fielding-independent pitching) currently sits at 3.54, while his xFIP (expected FIP) is an even more impressive 2.84. Meanwhile, the right-hander’s 7.93 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate and 55.9 percent ground-ball rate represent career highs, and his 1.60 walks-per-nine-innings rate is well below his career average of 2.29.

So, what’s made McCarthy so successful this season?

To put it simply, the veteran right-hander has re-invented himself.

McCarthy is throwing his four-seam fastball the most he has since 2009 (10.54 percent) and has increased his sinker (or two-seam fastball) usage to over 50 percent (50.53 percent, to be exact) for the first time in his career, per Brooks Baseball.

McCarthy is also throwing harder than he has at any point in his nine-year career and not just with his fastballs:

The right-hander’s four-seam fastball is averaging 94.46 mph this year, up nearly 1 mph compared to his 2013 average, while his sinker is registering more than 2 mph hotter at 93.92 mph. Overall, he’s had far more success this season with the four-seamer, as opposing hitters are batting an embarrassing .105 against the pitch and slugging just .164.

McCarthy also is using his curveball 23.6 percent of the time this season, which also marks a career high, and he’s throwing it more than 3 mph harder than he did last year.

Furthermore, McCarthy has moved away from his cutter since the start of the 2012 season, throwing it just 13.6 percent of the time this season compared to 44.81 percent just two years ago. Meanwhile, he’s totally abandoned his splitter, a pitch that was featured prominently in his arsenal in previous years.

The results have been staggering.

If the season ended today, McCarthy would finish with the highest whiff rates of his career with his four-seam fastball (15.55 percent), sinker (7.8) and curveball (11.26). And according to FanGraphs, the right-hander’s 8.2 percent swinging-strike rate is his highest since 2006, when he was still a member of the Rangers.

Personally, I think the Brandon McCarthy we’ve seen with the Yankees over the last month is the same pitcher we’ll see over the remainder of the regular season. I say this because the scouting reports teams have on McCarthy from the first half of the season (and previous seasons) no longer apply. The right-hander is a different pitcher this year with better velocity and therefore a different approach to his pitch selections.

The Yankees need the 31-year-old McCarthy to keep anchoring the starting rotation if they plan on reaching the playoffs this year. However, even if the rest of his season doesn’t unfold as expected, the soon-to-be free agent will at least have boosted his stock headed into the offseason.

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Elbow Injury Is Terrible News for Arizona Diamondbacks and Patrick Corbin

The season for the Arizona Diamondbacks might be over before it begins with the news, first reported by AZCentral’s Nick Piecoro, that the D’Backs’ young ace Patrick Corbin has a UCL tear in his elbow that might require Tommy John surgery. 

It’s the worst thing that could have happened to the D’Backs this spring outside of an injury to Archie Bradley or Paul Goldschmidt. Losing Corbin effectively takes Arizona out of the NL West picture. 

Piecoro reports that Corbin will likely get a second opinion this week, but more than likely this means Corbin will be heading toward surgery that will likely cost him the entire 2014 and part of the 2015 season as he rehabs from injury. 

The 24-year-old Corbin was one of Arizona’s bright stars last season, turning in a 14-8 record with a 3.41 ERA in 208.1 innings. It was good enough to land Corbin in the All-Star Game last year and allowed Arizona to project a rotation headed by Corbin and top prospect Bradley going into the future.

It’s hard to fault the D’Backs for anything that has happened to Corbin. His innings have increased at a normal pace over the past five seasons. Corbin pitched 144.2 innings in 2010 followed by 160.1 innings in 2011 and a 186.1 innings in 2012. It’s a gradual increase that led to Corbin passing the 200-innings barrier last season. 

The surgery and rehab alone isn’t a guarantee that Corbin will return to form. The D’Backs have to only look at Daniel Hudson‘s recovery from Tommy John surgery to know that nothing is guaranteed. Hudson was an extremely promising young pitcher who underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2012. While making a rehab start in June 2013, Hudson injured the elbow again, causing him to undergo a second Tommy John surgery that month. 

Outside of nine starts made in 2012, the 27-year-old Hudson may effectively lose almost three full seasons in the prime of his career. If the D’Backs are out of contention this summer, it makes very little sense to push Hudson at all in his recovery this season. 

In trying to look at the D’Backs 2014 campaign in a positive light, the hope was that a rotation built around Corbin and Bradley coupled with free agent Bronson Arroyo and the improved performance of veterans Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley and Brandon McCarthy would allow the D’Backs to contend for a playoff spot in 2014. 

Instead, the rotation stands in shambles before the season has even started. Arroyo has been dealing with a disk issue in his back for much of the spring, Cahill left Wednesday’s game after having a minor issue with his knee, and now Corbin is potentially lost for the season before even the first game is played. 

Randall Delgado should be the obvious answer to fill Corbin’s shoes. Delgado was a central piece in last winter’s Justin Upton deal, and now the D’Backs will get a chance to fully evaluate him this season. Delgado was 5-7 with a 4.26 ERA in 19 starts for Arizona in 2013. 

While it was hard to imagine the D’Backs contending for the NL West or a wild-card spot with Corbin, it is virtually impossible to see this pitching staff replacing Corbin and matching up with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants this season. Arizona simply doesn’t have the starting pitching to match up head-to-head. 

If Corbin has surgery this month, it effectively means he will be coming back next season after a 12-month absence with the hope of impacting the rotation by the middle of next season. That rotation figures to look very different then the one that takes the field this season. 

Unfortunately for the D’Backs, they continue to be snake-bit while attempting to get back into playoff contention. 

Information used from Nick Piecoro/AZCentral, Baseball-ReferenceWikipedia

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MLB Approves Protective Caps, but Will Pitchers Actually Wear Them?

In the aftermath of significant, life-threatening head injuries suffered by pitchers, MLB has informed its 30 clubs that padded caps have been approved to provide some head protection against line drives flying back at the mound.

According to ESPN’s Outside the Lines, a product, with help from the Players Association, has been launched with the purpose of protecting pitchers. 

Now, a new task emerges for the sport: Convincing pitchers to wear the product on a daily basis.

The announcement, although exciting and important, is just the first step. 

Dan Halem, MLB executive vice president for labor relations, was ecstatic about the potential for safety and future growth of the technology.

“We’re excited to have a product that meets our safety criteria,” Halem told Outside the Lines, adding that baseball will continue its efforts to come up with more options. “MLB is committed to working with manufacturers to develop products that offer maximum protection to our players, and we’re not stopping at all.”

Per the OTL piece, five pitchers—Oakland’s Brandon McCarthy, Houston’s Mickey Storey, Detroit’s Doug Fister, Toronto’s J.A. Happ and Tampa Bay’s Alex Cobb—were hit in the head with batted balls between Sept. 5, 2012 and June 15, 2013.  

In the span of less than one year, five pitchers, including Fister on the World Series stage, had their lives hang in the balance when a baseball came careening at them, affording even top-tier athletes little time to move out of the way.

While the rash of pitcher injuries grew in a quick span, the issue for Major League Baseball has been around for years. From San Diego’s Chris Young to Houston’s Billy Wagner to Boston’s Bryce Florie, the sight of a bloodied, dazed pitcher walking off the mound is all too familiar to baseball fans.

Unfortunately, the names listed above and video evidence of unsightly and grotesque injuries won’t change the mindset of some pitchers.

Amazingly, despite falling victim to one of the most famous incidents in the history of batted-ball injuries, Brandon McCarthy didn’t react positively to the new technology. As he told Jayson Stark of ESPN, the new cap is “too big” and doesn’t “pass the eye test.” 

In sports, comfort trumps safety. For an athlete to perform best, mental and physical comfort is a necessity. In the NFL, it’s routine to see skill players (wide receivers, running backs, defensive backs) eschew standard padding for more comfort and the perceived ability to move more fluidly.

The new caps, per OTL, will have seven ounces of weight more than the prior, non-padded cap. That may seem like a small amount for peace of mind, but could be looked at as another obstacle or distraction in a craft that desperately attempts to simplify things. 

While some pitchers will adopt and adapt early in the name of safety, not everyone will be willing to go the extra mile for peace of mind.

Alex Cobb, one of the recent line-drive victims, spoke about his incident as a “pink elephant” (video below, per MLB.com) and references the need to put worry and fear out of sight and out of mind. If that mindset is prevalent among pitchers with a past injury, they may not want to be reminded of it every time they put on their cap. 

Comfort issues can be overcome, but knowing that protective head gear is in the cap could lead pitchers to thinking about the possibility of being struck. If that thought process begins, it’s unlikely many pitchers would jump at the chance to wear the new technology.

When asked by OTL if he would wear the cap, J.A. Happ, despite his recent injury, wasn’t sure due to the feel and comfort.

“I’d have to see what the differences in feel would be. Does it feel close enough to a regular cap? You don’t want to be out there thinking about it and have it take away from your focus on what you’re doing.”

Furthermore, if the cap looks different or fits atop a pitchers head strangely, jokes will ensue. In 2009, on the path back from a concussion, New York Mets third baseman David Wright wore a new helmet designed to keep him safe in the event of another erratic pitch striking him in the head. 

When he took the field looking like a bobble-head, the commentary and comedic banter commenced among the media and fans.

Although the new, padded cap will be bigger in weight, it won’t be a gigantic version of the old caps, thus a David Wright situation is unlikely to occur. Still, some players won’t be receptive for reasons of comfort or the inability to block out why a padded cap is necessary.  

In time, the sport could consider making the new equipment mandatory, but until then it’s impossible to predict how many pitchers will actually wear the new gear. Hopefully, protected or not, baseball doesn’t go through another year of scary moments on the mound.

Yet, as morbid as it may sound, one of the only ways for the message to get across is more instances of injury to pitchers during game action.

This announcement is a major step for the long-term safety of pitchers, but it’s only one step. The key will be in convincing pitchers of how important the new technology may be in saving careers and lives.  

Comment, follow me on Twitter or “like” my Facebook page to talk all things baseball. 

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Arizona Diamondbacks Sign Pitcher Brandon McCarthy to a 2-Year Deal

Another day means another player has been signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks. The latest move by Arizona was signing 29-year-old right-handed starter Brandon McCarthy to a two-year, $15.5 million contract, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.

The former White Sox and Rangers pitcher found a home and a fresh start to his career in 2011 with the Oakland Athletics. He was the Opening Day starter for the A’s in 2012 and finished with an 8-6 record with a 3.24 ERA.

Of course he also had one of the scariest injuries of the 2012 season. As reported by Bill Shaikin for the Los Angeles Times, McCarthy had his skull fractured after a line drive by Los Angeles Angels infielder Erick Aybar struck him on the head.

Along with the fracture, he had an epidural hemmorhage and a brain contusion, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com)

Now he has recovered and will join his former Oakland teammate Trevor Cahill in Arizona. McCarthy will be the the fourth starter behind Cahill, Wade Miley and Ian Kennedy.

McCarthy helps give the Diamondbacks terrific depth in the starting rotation. And perhaps the signing will set up a blockbuster deal.

Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports believes that the signing of McCarthy and the recovery of pitcher Daniel Hudson from Tommy John surgery could put the Diamondbacks in a position where they can trade starting pitching.

Top prospects Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs or Patrick Corbin could be included in a deal with Justin Upton in a potential blockbuster move.

Yet there could be holes in a blockbuster deal; perhaps the signing of McCarthy to the deep pitching staff could be the final push to trigger a big trade.

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Diamondbacks Reportedly Agree to Deal with RHP Brandon McCarthy

The Arizona Diamondbacks have reportedly inked 29-year-old free-agent pitcher Brandon McCarthy, according to John Gambadoro of Sports 620 AM KTAR in Phoenix (via Twitter):

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman followed up that report, confirming it, and then provided some details about the deal (via Twitter):

Nick Piecoro, a Diamondbacks beat writer for AZCentral Sports, chimed in next with the financial details (via Twitter):

The phrase “the rich get richer” certainly applies to the Diamondbacks after acquiring someone of McCarthy’s talent to supplement their starting-pitching rotation.

McCarthy posted a 3.29 ERA in two seasons in the Oakland Athletics‘ rotation and is, barring injury, ready to settle into the prime of his career. In 2012 alone, he went 8-6 with a 3.24 ERA in 111 innings of work.

The A’s Opening Day starter didn’t get a chance to finish his season, though.

On Sept. 5, a line drive hit by Los Angeles Angels shortstop Erick Aybar hit his head and put him into a “life threatening” situation, according to an AP report following the incident. As a result, McCarthy suffered an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and a skull fracture and was hospitalized (via ESPN).

McCarthy was medically cleared to resume a normal offseason and participate in drills on Nov. 15, less than three months after the ensuing brain surgery, according to ESPN.com. He seemed upbeat about the offseason and getting back into the swing of things after the announcement.

“It worked out well I recovered in the time I did,” McCarthy said. “This shouldn’t be something lingers into the offseason.”

For his career, McCarthy is a modest 37-39 with a 447-to-191 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He’s posted a 4.02 ERA and made 99 starts during his seven years in the majors.

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