Michael offered some early observations from Day 1 of Spring Training 2016 a few days ago, and here are some quick takes on guys in the news today.
Rockies increasing height of fences at Coors Field
The Rockies announced a few days ago that they were increasing the height of the outfield fences in left field and right center field this season. Here is more from Nick Groke from the Denver Post:
After decades of watching home runs fly out of Coors Field at a heightened clip, the Rockies on Tuesday said they will raise their outfield fences to tamp down on the longballs.
The high-homer home of the "Blake Street Bombers" will get its biggest change to how baseball is played at altitude since a humidor was installed in 2002.
"The goal is to raise the wall heights to make it potentially more playable and more fair â for pitchers," Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said. "We really don't know, exactly, the effect it is going to have. We are going to live it together, this year, and see what happens."
The Rockies will raise their outfield wall between right-center and right field by 8 feet and 9 inches, to match the height of the out-of-town scoreboard, at 16 feet-6 inches in height. A green-coated, chain-link fence will sit on top of the existing green-padded wall in front of the visiting and home bullpens.
The outfield wall height also will increase down the left field line, by 5 feet, to 13 feet. That extended fence will be in front of the tunnel next to the bleachers.
This piece from Jeff Sullivan over at FanGraphs provides pics of what the changes will look like. Below is a drawing of the change to the fence that spans from center field to the right field foul pole:
I imagine there will be few home runs hit at Coors this season, so that will impact the value of Rockies hitters slightly this season. It is very hard to tell how much of an impact this change will have on home runs and runs scored in Colorado this season, but it could be the first of many to reduce the affects of the high altitude.
Maybe we can actually consider drafting Rockies pitchers next season if the changes does, in fact, reduce run scoring at Coors Field.
Brett Anderson out 3-5 months
You're not shocked are you? It was reported minutes ago that Dodgers lefty Brett Anderson will miss the next 3-5 months as he requires back surgery. He had a bulging disk in his back, so the Dodgers will be without the lefty till July or August. Anderson was smart to accept the $15.8 million qualifying offer this offseason, but will be hard-pressed to land more than a one year deal next offseason. His injury does opens up a spot for another right-handed starter in the Dodgers rotation, with Mike Bolsinger the candidate most likely to take over his spot in the rotation.
Tommy John surgery for Carter Capps?
Marlins reliever Carter Capps will visit Dr. James Andrews on Monday to get a second opinion on his ailing right elbow. This obviously doesn't sound good for him and it appears Tommy John surgery is in his future. Capps was fighting for the Marlins closer job with 2015 closer A.J. Ramos, but now it appears Ramos has s firm lead on the job with this news. We will learn more next week, but I will move Ramos up my closer rankings as a result.
Stephen Piscotty: Power Hitter?
I was reading Eno Sarris' baseball chat over on FanGraphs earlier and saw that he responded to a question regarding Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty changing his swing mechanics to get to more power. So, I googled this and saw an article written by Steve Dorsey over on MLB.com on February 28th addressing the change. Here are a few excerpts:
"I spent a lot of time in the offseason making a few minor tweaks and adjustments, tried to drive the ball a little bit," Piscotty said after Saturday's workout at the Roger Dean Stadium complex. "It's been good. I'm really encouraged with what I've been able to do so far, but the games haven't started so we'll see how that goes. But I'm really happy and very pleased with it right now."
His lack of power is one of the questions fantasy owners have with Piscotty, so if he can hit for more power this season, his value will certainly rise.
But, then there was this:
Piscotty knows it's unlikely he'll break camp with the Cardinals, but should the need for an outfielder arise and he's performing well at Memphis, then a midseason callup is not out of the question. But for now, Piscotty said he just wants to concentrate on improving and take advantage of the opportunity he has at camp the next month.
Umm.....what?!?! I thought Piscotty was going to be on the Cardinals Opening Day roster, but that appears to be not the case. Midseason call up? It appears the Cardinals will go with an outfield of Matt Holliday, Tommy Pham and Randal Grichuk, with Brandon Moss playing some outfield and first base to open the season.
This bares watching this spring, as I thought for sure that Piscotty would be an every day regular to open the season. I guess it could still happen, but he may need a good spring to force the issue, or an injury.
Update: A few readers pointed out that the date on the MLB.com article is from 2015 and not 2016, so it is dated. I do have this from a recent article on Piscotty from Mike Podhorzer at FanGraphs:
Check out last year's average batted ball distance leaderboard. I will wait as you peruse through the top 15. Who's that you see at 13 with an average of nearly 305 feet? That very man himself, Stephen Piscotty. I will tell you that I actually have slightly updated data and in 44 flies + homers (versus 38 in the table), his distance settled in at 301 feet. That is still wonderful and ranks in the top 30, or basically the top 10% of the leaderboard.
If that wasn't impressive enough, he also ranked fourth (yes, Corey Seager has been confirmed to be an error, as his angle was switched with his SDD) in average absolute angle of his batted balls. But, this isn't a matter of Piscotty pulling everything for easy homers. Instead, he went opposite field on 58.3% of his fly balls!
That said, Piscotty will be on the Cardinals Opening Day roster as well. Sorry for the bad info. This is what happens when you try to squeeze an article in during your lunch hour and you rush through things.
Jarrod Dyson to miss six weeks
The news wasn't good for Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson today, as he was diagnosed with a grade 2 oblique strain and will miss six weeks. He will miss the rest of spring training and at least the first two weeks of the season, so a late April return appears to be the expectation.
Dyson was scheduled to be the Royals starting right fielder to open the season, but the injury opens up a starting role for Paulo Orlando. Orlando hit .249 with 7 home runs, 14 doubles, 6 triples, 31 runs scored and 27 RBI in 251 plate appearances last season with the big league club. I wouldn't expect similar production from the 30 year old outfielder in 2016.