Mining the News (12/16/19)

Kyle Gibson spent most of last reason dealing with several long-term illnesses.

Then came E. coli and ulcerative colitis.

“In Spring Training we found the right medication,” Gibson said. “I was feeling strong when the season started. Then, I think whether it was the stress to the season or my diet changes, eating on the road and stuff, about mid-May, it started getting worse and the symptoms started creeping back in.

“The hardest part was just before the All-Star break. I wasn’t sleeping well. I was getting up with a bloated stomach and gas and having to go to the bathroom five or six times a night. Right at the beginning of September, I told our trainers I can’t do this anymore.”

Gibson spent 10 days on the injured list. He was on the Twins postseason roster against the Yankees, but was not given a starting assignment. He reached out to others for help. He spoke with Jake Diekman, the former Rangers reliever who spent much of his adult life dealing with ulcerative colitis until finally having multiple surgeries in 2017.

Gibson is a nice upside play with the health issues taken care of.

• Senzel should be ready for Spring Training after shoulder surgery. Also, he’s going back to his old swing.

Reds center fielder Nick Senzel recently heard what he hoped to hear from team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek. Senzel is making good progress in his rehabilitation from right shoulder surgery and is on track to be ready in time for Spring Training.

Ward and Ecker had Senzel switch to a more open batting stance that also had him standing taller. He added a leg kick as he started to swing. It was supposed to help him see the ball better, but instead he mostly struggled at the plate.

Senzel was batting a season-high .285 on Aug. 2. His numbers took a nosedive after the adjustment as he batted .188/.242/.313 over his final 34 games until the shoulder injury wiped out most of the final month of the season.

“I’m going back to what I do,” Senzel said. “I knew going into that that there was going to be failures. It wasn’t just I was going to change something at the big league level and that my numbers were going to stay the same. It’s obviously frustrating when you’re going through it. I was just trying something out and it didn’t work, so I’ll go back to what I’ve been doing since I was 5 years old. I don’t really have any regrets, it is what it is, and we move on.”

Michael Pineda won’t be back until mid-May from his suspension.

But the big right-hander will be unable to make his regular-season debut until mid-May, as he still has 39 games remaining on his suspension due to testing positive for hydrochlorothiazide, a banned diuretic. Pineda said in a statement that he mistakenly took a medication acquired over the counter by an acquaintance to manage his weight.

Garrett Cooper will start the season on Miami’s bench.

When the Marlins claimed first baseman Jesús Aguilar off waivers on Dec. 2, the non-tender deadline, they pretty much made it clear that the 2018 All-Star would be their first baseman. Brian Anderson appears headed to right field because Jonathan Villar projects to play third base. That leaves Cooper’s status as a starter less certain. Manager Don Mattingly at the Winter Meetings stated that it is hard for the organization to fully count on Cooper due to his injury history.

Archie Bradley may be used for more than one inning and it should be assumed, again, that he may not be the closer.

With Archie Bradley the presumptive closer for 2020, Lovullo sees an opportunity to use him for more than three outs if need be.

“We might ask somebody to get four outs from time to time, and I like that part of Archie,” Lovullo said. “He’s able to go one plus.”

That being said, Lovullo did not want to guarantee that Bradley would be the club’s closer, saying the right-hander was a “good starting point” when it came to the role.

“But we’re going to bring some guys in, and guys are going to be coming back,” Lovullo said. “We want to create competition, and that’s what it’s all about for me in Spring Training. We want to watch guys perform, but whoever gets it is going to have to earn it.”

• Again, Seattle plans on going with Mitch Haniger, Mallex Smith, and Kyle Lewis in the outfield leaving Jake Fraley without a job.

Freddy Peralta, the king of just throwing one pitch, is working on a slider and change in the Dominican League. His value would jump if either one sticks.

• With the Phillies signing Didi Gregorius, Jean Segura could quickly pick up second base eligibility.

Ball Park News

• Miami’s park will play more hitter-friendly with some walls moved in and a turf playing surface.

Along with the new surface, the outfield walls in center and right-center will be moved closer to home plate. Center field will go from 407 feet to 400 feet, and right-center will be reduced by 12 feet to 387 feet. This is the second outfield adjustment since the ballpark opened. The previous was in 2016.

“As we enhance the playing surface at Marlins Park, we felt it was also appropriate to take the opportunity to evaluate our outfield dimensions,” Jeter said. “We made the decision to adjust the distance of the outfield fence, which will now be more in line with the field dimensions you see across many of today’s ballparks.”

Marlins Park has long been regarded as one of the toughest places to hit. In 2019, the Marlins ranked last in the Majors in homers with 146, with 68 at home.

• The new park for the Rangers is having the fences moved in but maybe more pitcher-friendly since the roof can be closed during hot summer days.

The new ballpark has similar dimensions to the old one down the foul lines and is a bit deeper in center field (up from 400 feet to 407). But the most eye-catching change comes in the gaps. The right-field “power alley” is moving from 381 feet to 374, and most notable, the left-field alley from 390 to 372.

According to data available on the site Seamheads, no existing Major League stadium had a deeper left-field alley than Globe Life Park. And only Marlins Park — where the fences are now being moved in — and Kauffman Stadium were deeper in the right-field alley.

• The Giants are also moving the fences in.

Left-center field will move from 404 feet to 399 feet, center field will move from 399 feet to 391 feet, and “Triples Alley” in right-center field will move from 421 feet to 415 feet. The new center-field wall will be seven feet high instead of eight.

Other articles that I recommend.

• Five pitchers who could take a step forward.

• Eight prospects who could take a step forward.


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Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Love the updates! You save us a ton of time!

Also “more hitter-friendly since the roof can be closed during hot summer days”
– I think you meant pitcher-friendly?