*Let's do an off-day Playoff Odds Check:
|Site||Proj. Rec.||% to win ALW||% to win AL||% to win WS|
*Alright, let's get to some more reaction and fallout from the Marisnick v Lucroy Collision, I guess. Lucroy has a concussion and a fractured nose.
-Joe Torre says that MLB is "still having conversations" about disciplining Marisnick.
-The Orange County Register's Jeff Fletcher talked to some catchers at the All-Star Game...
Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto:
I've known Jake for a long time. He's a great guy. I know he wasn't trying to do any harm. It was just an unfortunate play that happens. It's tough to watch. I've been there, where you're going full speed, it happens so fast there's no way you can avoid it.
Brewers catcher Yasmani Grandal:
If your question is whether it's a dirty play or not, I don't think so.
Our Boy Alex Bregman:
We love competing against Lucroy. He's a great player. We hope he recovers ASAP. In no way, shape or form did Jake try to make a dirty play. Would he ever try to make a dirty play? That's a no. At the end of the day, there should be no suspension.
-Judging from this Rob Manfred clip, Marisnick is going to get suspended.
-These two yahoos have some thoughts and opinions on what Marisnick should have done, such as just coming to a full and complete stop while running 29 feet per second.
*Jake Kaplan has a cool piece about Alex Bregman and his Hero Status in New Mexico.
*Michael Brantley is excited to play in front of Cleveland fans. And this is a good Chandler Rome story on how Springer and Brantley have become BFFs.
*Here's an excellent piece in the LA Times on how the Astros got Yordan Alvarez for 2017 World Series Game 2 Hero Josh Fields after then-Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi thought the Astros wanted Cuban pitcher Yadier Alvarez (whom the Dodgers had just signed for $16 million and who now has a 14.73 ERA in 3.2IP for Double-A Tulsa).
*Justin Verlander will start Tuesday's All-Star Game, the first Astros pitcher to start an All-Star Game since Dallas Keuchel in 2015 and the oldest ASG SP since Kenny Rogers in 2006. Chandler Rome writes about Verlander's career renaissance in Houston. Verlander:
Being able to step in and help that city and organization win a championship was one of the most amazing things I've experienced in my career. Not only as a player but just a person. I think it connected myself to that city almost immediately. So to be here now and be on the mound with the Houston Astros logo on my chest, starting the game means a lot.
*Verlander also made ESPN's front page for basically being Justin Verlander, and he ripped MLB a new one. Verlander, who has allowed a League-high 26 home runs (more home runs in 19 starts than he had allowed in a season from 2006-2015), says that MLB has juiced the balls to increase offense. Verlander:
It's a f*cking joke. Major League Baseball's turning this game into a joke. They own Rawlings, and you've got Manfred up here saying it might be the way they center the pill. They own the f*cking company. If any other $40 billion company bought out a $400 million company and the product changed dramatically, it's not a guess as to what happened. We all know what happened. Manfred the first time he came in, what'd he say? He said we want more offense. All of a sudden he comes in, the balls are juiced? It's not coincidence. We're not idiots.
He's right. In June 2018 MLB bought Rawlings for $395 million. Upon the announcement, Chris Marinak (MLB's Executive VP for strategy, technology and innovation):
MLB is excited to take an ownership position in one of the most iconic sports brands in sports and further build on the Rawlings legacy...We are particularly interested in providing even more input and direction on the production of the official ball of Major League Baseball, one of the most important on-field products to the play of our great game.
A couple of weeks ago Rob Manfred said that Rawlings was getting better at "centering the pill" of the baseball, creating less drag and making the balls fly farther. Manfred:
It's important to say this, we think - including the number of home runs that we have out there - that we present a very entertaining product for our fans.
Manfred has unlocked a rather rare accomplishment: He has somehow, in a few ways, been a worse commissioner than Bud Selig. Consider (and my memory may be clouded here) that Selig presided over, and perhaps encouraged through tacit silence, the Steroid Era. People went nuts over the home run totals of McGwire and Sosa and became somewhat uncomfortable by Barry Bonds. "Think of the records!" people screamed. Selig sat silently by.
MLB, under Manfred, acquired a company with apparently the expressed intent of fundamentally changing the baseball to encourage home runs at a pace that would shatter previous offensive statistics. The Got Dang Twins have hit 166 home runs at the All-Star Break. They hit 166 home runs in all of 2018. You've read all the statistics, or you've seen it with your own eyes.
Jose Lima has the Astros franchise record for home runs allowed with 48 (2000) in 196.1IP, or 2.2 HR/9. The 2000 Astros allowed 234 home runs, worst in the National League, 1.44 HR/game. Verlander has allowed 26 in 126.2IP, or 1.8 HR/9. The 2019 Astros have allowed 138 HR, 1.53 HR/game, and that's just the 4th-highest HR total in the AL. You cannot tell me that the 2019 Astros pitchers - anchored by Verlander and Cole - is worse than the 2000 Astros pitching staff. You also cannot tell me that hitters in 2019 are that much better than hitters in 2000, the height of the Steroid Era. Manfred is not idly letting this happen, he's actively responsible for making this happen.
USA Today's Bob Nightengale: Are the balls the only juiced objects on the field? Colorado manager Bud Black:
You can't help but wonder. You don't want to, but I think we all have our suspicions.
*Former Astros Great A.J. Reed was claimed off waivers by the Chicago White Sox. Reed, drafted in the 2nd Round of the 2014 Draft (the Brady Aiken Draft), had just finished up a season at Kentucky in which he hit .336/.476/.735, hitting 23 home runs with a 48K:49BB. He also went 12-2 with a 2.09 ERA / 1.13 WHIP. He made his professional debut later in 2014, hitting .289/.375/.522 between Tri-City and Quad Cities. Reed broke out in 2015 between hitter-friendly Lancaster and Corpus, hitting .340/.432/.612 with 30 doubles and 34 home runs. It was enough to give him Baseball America's #11 prospect ranking going into 2016 (#40 in MLB.com and #55 in Baseball Prospectus).
Reed was hitting .291/.368/.556 for Fresno when he got called up on June 25, 2016. He walked twice and scored two runs, with an RBI sac fly in his MLB debut. Hinch was excited about Reed's progress vs lefty pitchers. Reed struck out eight times in his next 13 PAs. In 141 PAs in Houston, Reed hit .164/.270/.262. That was that. Reed got nine total PAs in Houston in 2017 and 2018.
Reed's minor-league OPS, 2015-2019:
*ESPN's Sam Miller: How the Home Run Derby became America's national pastime.
*The Twins and Yankees have reached out to Toronto regarding a possible package trade for Marcus Stroman and Ken Giles.
*The Yankees are also apparently interested in Tyler Bauer.
*Deadspin's David Roth: What the hell did the Mets do to Edwin Diaz?
*NY Times: Inside Jeffrey Epstein's $56m mansion, complete with photos of Bill Clinton, Woody Allen, and the Saudi Crown Prince.
*Tree planting has "mind-blowing potential" to tackle the climate crisis.
*NPR: Scientists have engineered a smooth, beanless coffee.
*A Musical Selection: