Some items from around the game…
- Cardinals reliever Andrew Miller spoke to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about several topics, including the recent agreement between the league and players’ union about the 2020 season, how Miller is handling the shutdown, and the rather mysterious arm problem that sidelined Miller earlier this month. “There are some explanations for some of what I’m going through and I have a lot of appreciation for the amount of time [Cardinals head athletic trainer] Adam Olsen and Dr. [Brian] Mahaffey have put in helping me to look for some answers,” Miller said. Though there still isn’t an actual diagnosis of Miller’s issue, “I think I have answers that make a lot of sense and they’re not the type of thing that brings any sort of concern to my health and my livelihood.” The southpaw is currently throwing, albeit under “not…ideal” circumstances working out at his home rather than in a normal training environment.
- Michael Wacha turned to some offseason video analysis with his father to help solve mechanical problems from the 2019 season, which put him in a good place heading into his first Spring Training with the Mets, Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News writes. By the time Wacha met with pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and assistant pitching coach Jeremy Accardo in camp, “they said my mechanical changes that I made over the offseason were exactly what they were going to be telling me,” Wacha said. “Exactly the same type of information or helpful tips that they were trying to get me into, I already made them on my own.” The early returns in Grapefruit League action were somewhat promising, as Wacha posted a 1.17 ERA over 7 2/3 innings, albeit with four walks against only five strikeouts. However, Wacha also didn’t allow any home runs, which was a positive sign after an ugly 1.8 HR/9 helped push his ERA to 4.76 over 126 2/3 innings with the Cardinals last season. Wacha signed a one-year, $3MM with the Mets in the offseason and now looks to be a member of their starting five, in the wake of Noah Syndergaard’s season-ending Tommy John surgery.
- With league revenues bound to take a massive hit due to the shutdown, could expansion be an ideal way to inject some new money into the sport? Fangraphs’ Craig Edwards explores the question, noting that adding two new teams worth $750MM each (which is perhaps a conservative estimate for the price tag of a new club) in franchise fees would give each current team an extra $50MM in revenue. Commissioner Rob Manfred has often said that the league would only consider increasing its membership after all of the current 30 teams (namely the A’s and Rays) had some type of plans in place for a new ballpark, and Edwards observes that the league hasn’t had any real financial incentive to expand in recent years. Of course, the pandemic could now change that stance entirely, though Edwards also points out that the worldwide financial uncertainty caused by the ongoing crisis could lead to fewer potential owners willing meet the price for an expansion team, and cash-strapped cities will now have even less of a reason to spend resources on building a new stadium for a new team.