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Brantley Breakdown: More Happenings in the Early Phases of 2024 MLB Season

It's only the second week of April. Let's all take a collective deep breath and enjoy that we're amid the beginnings of what will hopefully be an entertaining baseball season.

The weather is gorgeous (well, at least in Florida). The games are fun and electric. And there are some genuinely fascinating and wonderful storylines that we'll get to give you something to cheer about.

Yet, there are certainly some things to discuss that aren't as fun, starting with...

The Dang Pitching Injuries

Sigh. The discourse surrounding this issue has been exhausting, so I will not try to solve the problem.

Is it the ever-increasing velocity and spin rates pitchers are developing, the year-round nature of training, the uber-specialization of young kids to encourage them to focus on "popping that mitt," leading to a baffling number of youngsters getting Tommy John, the pitch clock, or some combination of everything?

There's no simple answer to the problem, as is to the question of the solution, at least none that come to my mind. So, I won't try to come up with a solution and will state the obvious: this blows.

Almost every team in baseball has one of their most talented pitchers on the shelf for either the season or an extended period (that might eventually lead to missing the season anyway). And that's awful.

Elly De La Cruz

Need I say more? The switch-hitting, power-hitting, speedy, hard-throwing shortstop is one of, if not the most exciting player in baseball right now.

Strike out and chase rates? A disgustingly low xwOBA that tells a bad story of decline? Never heard of it. I'm too busy watching this guy hit inside-the-park home runs and absolute moon shots.

Guys like Elly don't come around too often, so let's (for once) stop focusing on his under-the-hood metrics that might convince us his actual skills as a hitter will come back to bite him at some point and enjoy his fantastic display of athleticism on a seemingly nightly basis.

Brandon Belt is Still a Free Agent

For some teams, this is excellent news; if their current first base options or left-handed power bats falter, get hurt, or don't work out, Belt is a good-to-great fallback option.

But in my opinion, after a free agency period this offseason that was downright shameful in terms of actually getting talented players paid and rostered, this is a bummer.

Not only from an anti-owner perspective of being angry about a lack of investment in the players that make the game so great but also from a pure baseball perspective. Belt is a tremendous hitter who can do some really productive things on the field. Belt not being on a team is just confounding and confusing, and hopefully, he'll find a suitor soon.

Jared Jones is Filthy

Jones had an explosive first start for the Pirates against the Marlins, throwing 5.2 innings and racking up 10 Ks. He showcased an elite fastball that he could command quite well and a filthy breaking ball that confounded and confused Marlins hitters throughout the outing.

His next two outings have been equally as fun and thrilling to watch. He has 15 strikeouts in his two starts against the Phillies and Orioles.

The better news for both Jones and Pirates fans is that the 22-year-old is likely only scratching the surface of his potential. He's only walked two batters over his first three starts and totaled 25 strikeouts, a 12.5:1 ratio that might not be sustainable based on his past struggles with commanding the strike zone, but it is a very encouraging start.

The A's Situation

If there's a bigger reason to be disgusted with MLB owners than the Brandon Belt situation, the A's being so nasty and deciding to get even worse over the next five years by moving to play in a AAA stadium in Sacramento is undoubtedly one.

Not even getting into the depressing details of how they continued to try and screw over both the city of Oakland and its citizens or how using public funding for stadiums is never suitable for the public they're claiming to serve. The fact that a "Major League" ballclub will be playing 81 games a year in a minor league stadium is the textbook definition of Bush League.

It's unacceptable, and the fact that MLB agreed to this proposition is baffling.

Main Image via Wikimedia Commons


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