Pitchers and catchers have reported to Spring Training, but nothing much has gone on yet. However, there’s a bunch of news and projections to dig through.
The Athletic: Will Smith is still three years away from free agency, but it’s never too early to start thinking about what an extension might look like.
The new money in the deal, factoring in his agreed-upon 2023 salary, is five years, $78.75 million with a club option to make it six years, $96 million. And in his would-be free agency years, he’d make $54.25 million over three years (an AAV of $18.1 million, which is higher than Contreras’ $17.5 million) with a club option to make it four years, $71.5 million, with $56.25 million guaranteed.
Whenever this subject is broached, Diego Cartaya‘s quick rise is brought up, but both of their bats project to play anywhere and I don’t think the fact they currently play the same position is as big of a factor as some make it out to be.
Baseball Prospectus: PECOTA projections are out and the Dodgers are still expected to win the NL West with 98 wins over 94 for the Padres. The Dodgers also have the second-highest projection in baseball after the Yankees.
It is very funny to me, personally.
FanGraphs: Meanwhile, ZiPS sees the Dodgers and the Padres in a dead-heat, projecting both for 91 wins. That’s actually third-highest in baseball after the Braves and Mets.
ZiPS surprised me a bit with the NL West. Not so much in terms of the order of the standings, but with the relatively small gap between the Dodgers and the Padres, and then the Giants. The first two are both terrific teams, but there are real downside concerns. The Padres have serious questions at DH and the quality of the rotation drops off quickly, and the Dodgers’ issues aren’t all that dissimilar. The Giants seem to have a lower ceiling than their rivals, but like the Braves and Cards, ZiPS sees them eking out a few extra wins simply by having enough depth to reduce the number of downside scenarios in the mystery bucket.
The surprising part is the Giants at 88 wins.
MLB: The Dodgers have announced their 2023 minor-league coaching staffs.
The Los Angeles Dodgers announced their Minor League coaching staffs for the 2023 season with Travis Barbary (Oklahoma City), Scott Hennessey (Tulsa), Daniel Nava (Great Lakes), John Shoemaker (Rancho Cucamonga), Jair Fernandez (Arizona Complex League Dodgers), Dunior Zerpa and Cordell Hipolito (Dominican Summer League Dodgers) all leading their respective squads.
Some familiar names when you go down the entire list.
FanGraphs: An explainer on why maximum exit velocity matters to front offices, and also showing how developing power at the MLB level is difficult. Useful in terms of knowing what metrics to pay attention to.
“You can’t develop power” is the wrong takeaway here; “it’s hard to develop power” is closer to the truth. That holds true whether you’re hunting for fantasy breakouts or trying to sign a free agent. If you’re looking for a major league metric to trust, 95th-percentile exit velocity is a good bet. More so than any other statistic I could come up with, what you see is what you get, and what you see does a good job of telling you how dangerous a hitter can be when he’s at his best.
Baseball Prospectus: Did you want a new defensive metric? Well, you got one. It seems to be at least every bit as legit as DRS and OAA.
As a result, RDA arguably is trying to answer a slightly different question than DRS and OAA do. DRS and OAA seem to be asking whether a particular play was above- or below-average for that fielder under each system’s assumptions about the challenges of that particular play. RDA, on the other hand, asks whether a fielder’s overall play was consistently above- or below-average in light of the extent to which outs should have been made by somebody on those plays.
ESPN: To the chagrin of many, MLB is making the ghost runner in extra-inning games a permanent thing.
Major League Baseball is making it permanent: In all regular-season extra-inning games, a runner will be placed on second base to begin the 10th inning, and in every subsequent extra inning after that, until a winner is determined, according to a source familiar with the situation.
They are also personally attacking Dave Roberts and his desire to save the pen.
The league is also tweaking the rule that allows position players to take the mound when their teams are leading or trailing by six or more runs.
Under the new guidelines, leading teams have to be up by 10 or more runs in the ninth inning to let a position player pitch but trailing teams can use a position player anytime they are down by eight or more runs. Position players are also allowed to pitch anytime in extra innings.
ESPN: Another change that could cause chaos is not a rule change, but enforcement of the rules with regards to balks.
Major League Baseball plans to emphasize enforcement of the balk rule in 2023 as it implements sweeping rules changes, including a pitch clock that will place more focus on the arcane rule, league officials said Tuesday.
Stressing the delivery of legal pitches matters because it coincides with the beginning of a delivery, which is when the pitch clock is supposed to stop. Pitchers who violate the rule are assessed a ball as a penalty. Similarly, if hitters are not in the batter’s box and facing the pitcher with 8 seconds left on the clock, they will be given an automatic strike.
A bunch of pitchers are going to have to change their setups, though none that immediately come to mind with the Dodgers.
Defector: Retired umpire Joe West is fighting with his Wikipedia page. I know that sounds like a shitpost, but amazingly, it’s true.
So how do we know that Crewchief22 is actually Joe West, and not just the world’s biggest Joe West super fan? Well, for one thing, nobody likes Joe West, and for another, West himself recently confirmed that he’s been busily engaged in Wikipedia combat. That confirmation was obtained by our pals at FanGraphs, who called West and asked him to explain his deal. They included a bit of their conversation with him at the end of the most recent Effectively Wild podcast episode.
Just waiting for the World Baseball Classic at this point, honestly.