Month: August 2020

St. Louis Cardinals: Rob Kaminsky’s winding journey to the MLB

By Scott Mandel

It was a weekend that was filled with major league debuts for the St. Louis Cardinals. One of the players making his debut was Rob Kaminsky.

After a few weeks off the field as the team battled their coronavirus outbreak, the St. Louis Cardinals returned to action against the Chicago White Sox. They had several players making their debuts during the weekend series. Most went well, but one stood out to me. After many trials and setbacks, Rob Kaminsky finally stepped foot on an MLB mound and made his debut with a scoreless inning on Sunday in the 7-2 loss.

DFR: Rob Kaminsky and the young pitching prospects end camp on a ...
Kaminsky, in 2013 as a high school kid just drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals

Fans might remember the name going back all the way to 2013. Kaminsky was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of that draft at the 28th overall pick. As a crafty left-handed starting pitcher, he quickly climbed up the prospect rankings. Reaching as high as number three on the team’s prospect list, he was greeted with high expectations.

In 2014, Kaminsky went 8-2 with a 1.88 ERA in Low-A Peoria. Overall, his career minor league numbers are 29-21 with a sub 3.00 ERA, and he also had a 3-0 showing in the Arizona Fall League in 2018.https://9564ad6707f068e96f5c8bb50c62e97e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.htmlWhich has more buzz in 2020?Tap to voteChicago CubsVSVSMiami Marlins

In July of 2015, Kaminsky was traded. He was sent to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Brandon Moss. The trade was met with some mixed reactions but Moss performed well for the Cardinals and showcased the game-changing power that he brought to the table.

Kaminsky, meanwhile, dealt with an elbow injury after the trade. While he was solid in 2016, his 2017 season was pretty much lost. He had to deal with some injuries, but he came back and was shifted to the bullpen for the Indians’ minor league system. Because of these injuries, his climb to the majors was stalled for the four-plus years he spent with the Indians.

On December 6, 2019, Kaminsky signed a minor league deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. Back with the team in which it all began, it seemed as though his baseball journey had come full circle. Yet, his first major league appearance still eluded him.

The Cardinals selected his contract from their alternate training site on August 15. Officially a major league baseball player, his debut was made the next day. Kaminsky had achieved his first game in the big leagues, and he was able to do it with the team that drafted him.

Although his baseball journey was a winding one full of twists and turns, he was in the major leagues. Still only 25, he has plenty of time to continue to prove that he belongs in the majors. The transition to a bullpen role could help him carve out a valuable role with the Cardinals moving forward.

To be able to reach the highest level of professional baseball is surely an exciting thing. To be able to do that with the team that drafted him is probably the cherry on top. There’s no way of knowing how his career will play out from here, but for now, we can appreciate the story of how Rob Kaminsky reached the major leagues. Even if his path was an unlikely one, he can say that he is a big leaguer for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Mets’ Marcus Stroman Opts Out of 2020 Season Citing Covid 19 Concerns

By Scott Mandel

Marcus Stroman, a key member of the New York Mets starting rotation, has decided to end his season.

The right-hander becomes the second high-profile Mets player to opt out, joining Yoenis Cespedes, who opted out earlier this month.

Stroman, who was acquired by the Mets from the Toronto Blue Jays at the trade deadline last season, has not pitched this season because of a torn calf muscle.

Stroman has accrued enough service time to qualify for free agency after this season.

New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman opts out of season due to ...
Stroman has been recovering from a pre-season calf injury

Stroman, who had been working his way back from the preseason calf injury, said he made his decision with his family and it is purely based on COVID-19, not because of his calf. Stroman, 29, is set to become a free agent at the end of the year without throwing a pitch in 2020. He said the decision was “weighing on” him daily.

“This is not something that I wanted,” Stroman said. “This was a collective decision for my family, for our best interests. Because I’m such a competitor, it was incredibly hard to finally come up with this decision.”

Let’s Get Wally Backman Back in a Big League Dugout

By Scott Mandel

From the “where did this come from” file, I recently listened to a Ron Gardenhire post-game presser. Gardy, a former Met, is a baseball lifer who is transforming the Tigers into a professional baseball team, again.

It reminds me of why guys like him, his buddy, Wally Backman, Bob Brenley, Jim Leyland and the rest of the “old” managers should always have a place in baseball, running a team. Players don’t care how old a manager is. The special ones, no matter their ages, relate to all players and are great at running the games.

Ron Gardenhire on Tigers' elite pitching prospects: 'I hope I don ...
Gardenhire is transforming Tigers from sad sacks to a young, competitive team

Today’s general managers, many in their 30s or 40s, think hiring a young guy who can “relate” better to today’s player, is an advantage. As I watch the new Mets manager, 16-year old Luis Rojas, I keep thinking about Wally Backman in that dugout, winning games instead of losing games, the way the Mets are doing, now. (Rojas is really 38).

Maybe, the new Mets owner will bring Wally back.

NY Giants Arriving for 2020 Training Camp. Masks and Everything

By Scott Mandel

It’s game on—or more accurately, training camp on, for the NFL after the league and the NFL Players Association finally resolved their remaining differences regarding operational and financial matters that had threatened to end the season before it had a chance to get off the ground. 

The Giants rookies have already reported for camp. By Sunday, they will have completed the mandatory five-day testing period in which they were to have taken a COVID-19 test on reporting day (July 23) and again on July 26.

Both tests must be negative if they are to be allowed to begin training within the sterile environment the team has set up to be based out of MetLife Stadium.

The veterans are due to report for their five-day testing period on July 28. There will be an established schedule (as laid out by SI.com’s Albert Breer), who also reports that walk-through practices will be permitted during the strength and conditioning part of the schedule.

Schedules aside, the Giants will have no shortage of storylines this summer, ranging from what new head coach Joe Judge’s practices and command of the team will look like to how the new offensive and defensive schemes will take shape.

Mets’ Cespedes Opts Out from the Baseball Season

By Scott Mandel – sportsreporters.com

Cespedes decided to end his season with the Mets after nine games in 2020

Yoenis Cespedes has decided to opt out of the 2020 MLB season. The news comes hours after the Mets released a statement they were unable to get in contact with him after he failed to show up for the Sunday afternoon game in Atlanta.

“It’s disappointing,” general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said. “This is a disappointing end at least to his four-year agreement with the Mets.”

 Van Wagenen maintained the team had no knowledge of Cespedes’ plan to opt out before sending their statement out before game time on Sunday. The Mets G.M. also did not know whether the slugger was safe and healthy before releasing an initial statement. He explained his statement was made in an effort to be transparent and keep the public informed, “in real time,” the GM said later.

“As of game time, Yoenis Céspedes has not reported to the ballpark today,” Van Wagenen’s statement read. “He did not reach out to management with any explanation for his absence. Our attempts to contact him have been unsuccessful.”

The announcement of the lineup was also delayed, but when Rojas was asked directly if the team was waiting on any players to arrive, the manager chalked it up to the quick turnaround of Saturday night’s game to Sunday afternoon’s early arrival.

”Nothing in particular,” Rojas said on the delay of the lineup announcement. “We’re just arriving from the night-day game.”

Cespedes is in the final year of his contract with the Mets, which was restructured in January following his 2019 accident with a wild boar. He rehabbed from multiple surgeries on his heels and ankle and returned to play Opening Day in his first-big league game since July 2018.

The slugger is batting .161 (5-for-31) with two home runs, four RBI, two walks, three runs scored and 15 strikeouts from the designated-hitter spot across the first nine games of the season.

One suspects there is more to this story than meets the immediate eye. Stay tuned.