[Arizona Republic] Ketel Marte’s reemergence could be key to Diamondbacks’ 2021 hopes
Nick Piecoro writes that outside of a handful of scattered performances, Marte rarely looked like an offensive catalyst this past season. He offered sometimes conflicting explanations as to what was happening, sometimes saying it was related to his approach and thus intentional, other times admitting he wasn’t hitting how he wanted.
“He needs to be able to create backspin and direction more toward the middle of the field,” Darnell Coles, the hitting coach, said. “I think this year we got a little bit more rotational, worked around the ball a little bit and swung at a few more pitches in off the plate, which didn’t allow him to stay on or be able to attack pitches on the outer half.”
Coles said he sent Marte home for the winter with thoughts on what to work on, and he expects the two of them will dig in further when they’re together at Salt River Fields in the coming weeks.
[NBC Sports BayArea] NL West managers were on board with some 2020 MLB changes
“There was a lot more thought that went into that, and that became more challenging as the year went on, but it’s something I really enjoyed,” Lovullo said of the three-batter minimum last week.
“I know the extra-inning feature was something that was very intriguing and exciting and led to some quick and rapid endings,” Lovullo said. “I think that’s something a lot of people are in favor of, so you don’t blow up your entire team for the next day or perhaps the next series and have to make an assortment of moves to reload. That’s something that Major League Baseball is looking at very closely and something that I really enjoyed walking through in 2020.”
Around The MLB
[CBS Sports] Phil Niekro, Hall of Fame knuckleballer and former Braves pitcher, dies at 81
Niekro is the seventh Hall of Famer to pass away in 2020. Lou Brock, Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan, and Tom Seaver all died earlier this year.
[MLB Trade Rumors] Padres to acquire Blake Snell from Rays
After reading this I tend to believe Mike Hazen got a pretty good haul for Starling Marte.
Across The Pacific
[Japan] Reformers look to fix Japan’s damaging youth baseball culture
Hampered by excessive, old-fashioned training methods, a win-at-all-costs mentality and the heavy burden placed on parents, participation rates in Japanese youth baseball have been tumbling at a rapid pace.
At a news conference in Tokyo in January 2019, the 29-year-old Tampa Bay Rays slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, at that moment DeNA BayStars captain, said Japanese youth baseball prioritizes winning at the expense of education and coaches get angry and scold kids for making mistakes in practices and games, although it is natural they do.
To provide an opportunity for many children to experience the sport and replenish the playing population in the future, Junji Kako, 54, launched a new youth club in Yokohama in 2017 which prioritizes fun over winning for the kids involved. His club is a success but has had to stop accepting new players, although many other teams in the region and elsewhere are struggling to enlist enough to stay afloat.
[Japan] Hawks ace Kodai Senga pleads for posting, settles for big raise
SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga said Saturday his desire to move to the majors is unchanged, but he is no closer to going overseas via the posting system following a reported 100 million yen ($967,000) raise from the Pacific League club.
The 27-year-old led the PL this season in ERA, wins and strikeouts as the Hawks cruised to their fourth straight Japan Series championship. SoftBank is the only one of Nippon Professional Baseball’s 12 teams to have never transferred a player via the posting system and Mikasa said it has no intention of starting now.
According to current regulation, Senga would be available for MLB teams after the 2022 season.
Across The Wall
[Dominican Republic] Ronald Guzmán wins MVP
The Texas Rangers first baseman, playing for the Gigantes del Cibao, got 63 votes after putting up a .360 batting average and a .973 OPS after tearing up the league in the final weeks. David Kubiak won pitcher of the year, Jeremy Peña won rookie of the year and Diamondbacks bench coach Luis Urueta got the manager of the year award.
[Dominican Republic] LIDOM heads into play-offs
Luis Urueta’s Gigantes del Cibao won the regular phase with a 16-14 record and will await either Domingo Leyba’s Estrellas or Escogido. Domingo Leyba finished the regular phase with a disappointing .733 OPS and probably loses his starting role to Fernando Tatis Jr. or Robinson Canó who came to reinforce the Estrellas in the play-off phase.
Keury Mella’s Toros del Este will meet the Aguilas Cibaeñas in the second play-off. Mella finished the regular phase with a somewhat disappointing 6.35 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in just 5.2 innings of work.
Your Random Diamondback
[FanGraphs] Taijuan Walker Ranks His Best Efforts
Taijuan Walker has been in the media the last couple of weeks. There was a chaotic interview with Jomboy with just too much off-topic chat, and now the former D-Back ranking his best efforts. He ranked a D-Backs moment second: his first homerun.
“I hit the home run off Mike Foltynewicz. Making the moment even more special is that [my wife] had just had a baby, our first child. It was my first game back, I pitched well, and I hit a home run. I would say it’s probably the number-two moment in my career.”