Nolan Arenado projects to head up the 2019-20 free agent class, and Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post finds similarities with Matt Holliday’s departure from the franchise a decade ago. Holliday explained to Saunders why he found the Rockies’ final contract extension offer “disappointing,” while former GM Dan O’Dowd also provided his contrasting recollection of the situation.
- Holliday also took part in a fascinating lunch with members of the St. Louis Cardinals coaching crew recently. Manager Mike Shildt, bench coach Oliver Marmol and new hitting coach Jeff Albert shared a chance meal with Holliday at the Cardinals’ training facility in Jupiter, Florida where Holliday spends his offseason. Per the Athletic’s Bernie Miklasz, the foursome spent their lunch session talking hitting approaches, data usage and baseball philosophy. Specifically, Shildt hopes to improve the Cardinals contact rates this season, hence the hiring of Albert, who specializes in helping players refine their approach at the plate. One interesting exercise Albert used in his former post with the Astros involved making hitters verbally identify a pitch as a ball or a strike during batting practice. With repetition, Houston players improved in their ability to accurately differentiate balls from strikes. Shildt began shifting the Cardinals to a more contact-oriented approach when he replaced Mike Matheny last season, but this year he’ll have reinforcements in his efforts to further decrease the Cardinals’ strikeout rate.
- Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com suggests the Nationals might not be finished in their search for a frontline catcher, despite the recent signing of Kurt Suzuki. The 35-year-old backstop may easily give the Nats 50 to 60 games behind the dish, but few teams employ a true workhouse catcher nowadays and Suzuki might be better suited as the lesser half of a catching tandem. Kerzel imagines the possible ways in which GM Mike Rizzo might pair Suzuki with Yasmani Grandal, J.T. Realmuto or Wilson Ramos, though he admits it is equally likely the Nationals head into next season with Suzuki atop the depth chart. Considering Suzuki was arguably the top option available this winter outside the big three listed above, it would be quite the coup for the Nats to come away with another top option at this juncture. Still, durability concerns for a 35-year-old backstop aren’t wholly unreasonable.