Thoughts following the Grapefruit League off-day

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees enjoyed their first off-day of the Grapefruit League season yesterday, and this afternoon they’ll be back at work with a road game against the Rays. That game will not be televised. Lame. Anyway, I have some thoughts as the regular season creeps closer and closer.

1. The Yankees have been a run-scoring machine during Grapefruit League play and I don’t know what to think. Going into yesterday’s off-day, the Yankees were second among all teams in runs (101) and first in both homers (26) and extra-base hits (70) this spring. They were also fourth in batting average (.283) and fifth in OPS (.836), and in both cases the clubs ahead of them all play in the more hitter friendly Cactus League. Heck, the Yankees were the only Grapefruit League team among the top eight teams in OPS prior to yesterday’s off-day. That doesn’t even include their ten-run outburst against Team Canada because, technically, that was a World Baseball Classic exhibition and not a Spring Training game. Last spring the Yankees scored 116 runs and hit 20 homers in 32 games. This spring they’re already up to 111 runs and 29 homers in 18 games (counting the Canada game). I’ve been doing this long enough to know getting your hopes up based on Spring Training stats, even team-wide stats, is a recipe for having your heart broken. The Yankees won’t have Gleyber Torres (.421/.429/.842 this spring) and Billy McKinney (.462/.563/1.077) doing this during the regular season, for example. Still, I do think the 2017 Yankees will score more runs than the 2016 Yankees, and this spring is something of a sign of things to come. Carlos Beltran was really good in 2016, but going from an offensive core of C Brian McCann, 1B Mark Teixeira, RF Carlos Beltran, and DH Alex Rodriguez last year to C Gary Sanchez, 1B Greg Bird, RF Aaron Judge, and DH Matt Holliday this year sure feels like an improvement, doesn’t it? I don’t think this spring tells us the Yankees will be an offensive juggernaut this year. Not at all. But I do think their performance this spring compared to last spring tells us the offense is in a better place.

2. Opening Day is two weeks and five days away at this point, and right now I don’t think there are clear favorites for the fourth and fifth rotation spots. My prediction coming into camp was Luis Severino and Luis Cessa getting rotation spots, Bryan Mitchell landing in the bullpen, and Chad Green winding up back in Triple-A. I see no reason to change that at the moment. None of those four has had one of those dominant springs you simply can’t ignore, and, at the same time, none has pitched so poorly that they’ve knocked themselves out of the race. Heck, based on their spring performances, Adam Warren might be the front-runner for a rotation spot right now. I would be surprised if the Yankees went with him over the kids though. They seem to like Warren as a do-it-all reliever. It is not early in Spring Training anymore. The regular season isn’t that far away. It would be nice to see one or two of these young starters pull ahead of the pack and claim a rotation spot soon.

3. Needless to say, I hope James Kaprielian pitches Friday, not Thursday. Over the weekend Joe Girardi said Kaprielian will likely pitch either Thursday or Friday, and Thursday’s game won’t be televised while Friday’s will be, so yeah. Pitch him Friday, pretty please with a cherry on top. The Yankees brought Kaprielian along slowly this spring following last year’s elbow injury and I get it. There’s no reason to push it. That and some comments made by various folks with the Yankees in recent weeks lead me to believe Kaprielian will indeed get the 2015 Severino treatment this year. That means relatively short starts with High-A Tampa early in the season — by short starts I mean five innings and 75 pitches or so — before a bump to Double-A Trenton, where his workload will increase a bit. And then another bump to Triple-A Scranton, where his workload will increase even more. That will, in theory, save some innings for the end of the season should the Yankees decide to call Kaprielian up to the big leagues. (That is far from guaranteed to happen, of course.) It’ll also allow them to bring him along slowly early in the season. The Yankees really seem to love Kaprielian and who can blame them? His stuff has received rave reviews and he’s an off-the-charts makeup guy. I think they’d love it if he forces the issue this year and reaches the Bronx by September. I also think the Yankees have the big picture in mind and will be cautious, moreso than they were with Severino in 2015.

Higgy. (Presswire)
Higgy. (Presswire)

4. Last season was a breakout year for Kyle Higashioka, who earned a spot on the 40-man roster and is more exciting than most soon-to-be 27-year-old minor leaguers because he’s a catcher with power and good defense. He’s smacked two home runs in Spring Training already. But, if you’re hoping he beats out Austin Romine for the backup catcher’s job, don’t hold your breath. The way the Yankees have used them this spring tells you everything you need to know about their plans. Romine has way more Grapefruit League plate appearances than Higashioka (25 to 15) and he’s tied with Gary Sanchez for the most innings caught in camp. Also, Romine has started eight games and come off the bench once. Higashioka has started one game and come off the bench nine times. Romine has spent more time catching the big leaguers as a result. Barring injury, Romine will start the season as Sanchez’s backup. We’ll see Higashioka at some point. At worst he’ll be a September call-up, and chances are he’ll be up earlier than that as an injury replacement because catchers have a way of getting banged up. I do think Higashioka, not Romine, will be the backup catcher come the 2018 season. For now, Romine is the guy. The way the Yankees have used these two in camp tells us everything we need to know.

5. I totally understand why the rules are in place for the World Baseball Classic and why they may be implemented in the minors, but holy cow, after seeing the extra innings rules in action over the weekend, they’re even worse than I imagined. For those who are unaware, once a WBC game reaches the 11th inning, each half-inning starts with runners on first and second. Two games went to eleven innings this weekend. It feels like the road team has the advantage with these rules because they bat in the top half of the inning, and are immediately putting pressure on offensively. Also, extra innings create a certain level of suspense — if you’re rooting for one of the two teams, tension as well — and the extra innings rules break that suspense completely. I feel like, if you’re going to do something dumb by putting runners on first and second to start each inning, just go full dumb and start the bases loaded. Let’s get really ridiculous, you know? Thankfully, commissioner Rob Manfred recently said these extra innings rules are not being considered for MLB. They’re being looked at as a way to avoid overworking pitchers in the minors. That’s fine. I get that. Just not in meaningful big league games, please.

6. Watching the WBC, I just can’t see how the “act like you’ve been there before” mentality is more enjoyable than raw emotion. These games have been so exciting. Pitchers are pumping their fist after a big strikeout, batters are throwing up their hands after getting on base, and the crowd feeds off it. I get that it’s difficult to play with that much energy day in and day out during the long 162-game season, but geez, after every little show of emotion people shout it down. A guy hit a homer and flipped his bat? Stop showing up the pitcher. A pitcher pumped his fist after striking out two in a row to escape a bases loaded jam? Act you’ve been there before, buddy. MLB could learn a thing or two from the WBC. The league is trying hard to cultivate young fans, and guess what? No young fan is going to be attracted to a guy hitting a homer, putting his head down, and jogging around the bases. Let the players show emotion. Embrace it. The crusty old unwritten rules are doing more harm than good. They’re unwritten for a reason. Because if MLB sat down and wrote them out, everyone would see how stupid they are.

Open Thread: March 13th Camp Notes

The Yankees had an off-day today, their first of the spring, and it was a complete off-day. No workouts at the complex or anything. The team will be back at it tomorrow afternoon with a road game against the Rays. Luis Severino is the scheduled starter. The game won’t be televised. Lame. Here’s some news from Tampa:

  • The Yankees announced three more roster cuts this morning. Yefrey Ramirez, Ronald Herrera, and Domingo German were all optioned to Double-A Trenton. Reminder: the level doesn’t mean much in the spring. It’s just a workout group. This doesn’t mean all three will start with the regular season with the Thunder. Anyway, there are still 53 players in big league camp.
  • Joe Girardi said James Kaprielian will make his Grapefruit League debut later this week. “My guess is Thursday or Friday,” he said. The Yankees will be on the road both days. Friday’s game will be televised. Thursday’s will not. Hopefully Kaprielian pitches Friday. [Dan Martin]

Here is the open thread for the evening. MLB Network will have Italy vs. Venezuela live at 9pm ET. The winner of that game advances to the second round of the World Baseball Classic. The loser goes home. MLB Network will also have Cuba vs. Japan live at 6am ET tomorrow morning. The (hockey) Rangers and Islanders are both playing as well. Talk about those games or anything else here, as long as it’s not religion or politics. Get that outta here.

Heyman: Yankees agree to 2017 contracts with Aaron Judge and Greg Bird

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees have agreed to one-year contracts for the 2017 season with Aaron Judge and Greg Bird. The team did not renew them as pre-arbitration-eligible players, a la Dellin Betances last year. Judge will earn $544,500 this coming season. Bird will make $545,500. The league minimum is $530,000.

Interestingly enough, Heyman says New York’s pay scale for pre-arbitration-eligible players is generally $100 per plate appearance over the league minimum. The math doesn’t work for Judge and Bird, however. Based on that formula, Judge would be making $539,500 this year, not $544,500. Bird would be at $547,800, not $545,500.

Chances are there are other escalators involved, perhaps based on service time or something. Or maybe Judge has a really good agent and Bird has a really bad one. Or! Or maybe the Yankees decided to change their pre-arbitration salary scale after the Betances fiasco last year and this year. Whatever.

Pre-arbitration players like Judge and Bird typically sign split contracts that pay them one salary in the big leagues and another salary in the minors. It’s entirely possible both guys will spent time in Triple-A this year too. Judge if he strikes out a bunch and Bird if he needs more time to get back to normal following shoulder surgery. At this point, the former seems more likely than the latter.

Judge made his big league debut late last season and will remain under team control through 2022. Bird, however, spent the entire 2016 season on the MLB disabled list, so he accrued a full year of service time even while injured. The Yankees lost a year of team control, essentially. Bird will qualify for free agency following the 2021 season.

The Yankees had previously agreed to a 2017 contract with Gary Sanchez, though financial terms are still unknown. Pre-arbitration contracts usually aren’t widely reported. The Yankees currently have 23 pre-arbitration players on the 40-man roster. Rotation candidates Luis Severino, Chad Green, Bryan Mitchell, and Luis Cessa are among them.

Didi Gregorius is ready to help all the young shortstops in the Yankees’ farm system

(Sung Min Kim/River Avenue Blues)
(Sung Min Kim/River Ave. Blues)

A bit after the Netherlands-Israel World Baseball Classic match at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, a group of Taiwanese reporters flocked towards the Netherlands dugout as Didi Gregorius stepped outside of the dugout. As one of the reporters finished an interview, she giddily asked Gregorius for a selfie because she “wants to prove that she actually talked to him.” Gregorius easily obliged. He (and I) probably knew that the reporter probably wanted one with him regardless because he is Didi Gregorius, a young and rising figure who plays for the famed New York Yankees.

Gregorius spent the past week in Seoul as a member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands team for the 2017 World Baseball Classic. After one of the exhibition matches, Gregorius and several teammates went out and he posted on his Instagram stories a selfie of themselves at a shopping mall.

“I was just walking around,” he said. “You gotta experience everything when you’re in a different country. I’ve never been (in Korea) so you gotta walk around and see what they got.”

The Korean baseball fans — and many others who traveled to see the games in Seoul — however, got to see what Gregorius has to offer. Gregorius, after hitting a home run in his first Spring Training at-bat this year, did not seem to lose his power stroke in Pool A play of the World Baseball Classic. In three games and twelve at-bats, he has hit for a 1.083 OPS, hitting three doubles and knocking in three. One of the doubles, which came in the bottom of eighth in the game against Taiwan, tied the game up at five and Netherlands went on to walk-off in the ninth to clinch the second round trip to Tokyo.

Gregorius also barely missed a home run earlier in the game, as the ball hit the wall just a few feet shy of being in the seats. It might as well as been a home run in many other ballparks, as the Gocheok Sky Dome is rated below-average for home run rates. Last night, in the Tokyo Dome, Gregorius clobbered a big home run for the Netherlands:

However, Gregorius never looks for home runs when he steps into the box. He is aware of last year’s power surge and the expectations that came with it. But when asked if he changed his offseason training regimen to increase power, he immediately shook his head and gave a firm response.

“If I hit a home run, I hit a home run,” Gregorius said. “But I’m just trying to drive the ball, try to hit it gap to gap — left field line, right field line — I’m a line drive hitter. If they go out, they go out, but nothing’s going to change.”

Indeed Didi is a line drive hitter. He’s always had a line drive swing that Yankee scouts loved even when his bat did not play out for the Diamondbacks in 2014 (.226/.290/.363 in 299 PA). After hitting for a .276/.304/.447 line with 20 home runs with 70 RBI in 2016 while still displaying slick fielding ability, he’s established himself as one of the most fun AL shortstops to watch.

With the Team Netherlands, Didi is teammates with another young AL shortstop, Xander Bogaerts, whom Gregorius acknowledges is a better hitter “if you look at the numbers.” While they play for rival teams in the regular season, Gregorius and Bogaerts feel natural playing for a same squad.

“It does not feel weird to play with (Bogaerts) because I played with him when we were young,” Gregorius said. “It’s just fun because all people (on the team) are from back home representing Netherlands and Curacao. When we’re working together, we are a team. When we’re playing each other, we don’t know each other (laugh).”

Sure, the Red Sox may have a better-hitting shortstop right now, but the Yankees have some great shortstop talent in the minors that could impact the big league team in a few years. There’s of course Gleyber Torres and Jorge Mateo. Deeper down, there are Tyler Wade, Wilkerman Garcia, Kyle Holder, Hoy Jun Park, etc., all of whom signed as shortstops but could very well change positions in near future.

Despite the many shortstop talents in the system, Gregorius is not worried about his long-term outlook with the Yankees.

“I’m going to play my game,” Gregorius put it succinctly. “They are playing their game too. I cannot judge people on what they do and I cannot worry about it.”

Even if any of the younger talents land in the majors, Gregorius is planning to be an embracing “veteran.” “When we are on the team, we play together so there’s no competition between each other,” he said. “Why do I have look out for something that’s not even there right now? (To them) I’m a so-called veteran so they come to me and I pass along what A-Rod and all those guys taught me. I hope every young guy goes a long way because you want them to be successful.”

Gregorius, of course, was once in their shoes before. Breaking into the bigs in 2012, it took him until 2015 to be a solid regular and the work ethic that scouts raved about and guidance from older players took his play to the next level in 2016. Prior to that though, he has had to go back and forth between Triple-A and MLB in the both Reds and Diamondbacks systems. He is aware of the challenges of having to transition as an ML player and has the right intentions – guide them through the most crucial part of their career.

Not only Gregorius cares about the younger players, but also he has looked out for the fans during Pool A play of the World Baseball Classic. After Netherlands defeated Taiwan in a dramatic walk-off affair, he walked over to the Royal Diamond seats (the seats directly behind the home plate and by the dugouts in Gocheok) to sign each autographs for each fan and take selfies while his teammates had gone into the clubhouse to celebrate the win.

In each instance I have been around him, Gregorius is upbeat, smiling, not saying “no” to fans and generally being positive to whatever is in his sight. His positive attitude rings in his answer when asked what his 2017 goal is.

“Win a ring. That’s it,” he said. “We got a lot of talent and a lot of young guys coming up so wait for the season.”

All Rise for Aaron Judge [2017 Season Preview]

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The first impression was as good as it gets. On the fourth pitch he saw as a big leaguer, Aaron Judge smoked a towering home run off the very top of the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar in center field at Yankee Stadium. The ball cleared the windows and very nearly made the seats. It was fun to see the power after reading all those scouting reports over the years.

The second impression wasn’t so good. In 94 plate appearances after that home run, Judge went 14-for-83 (.169) with three homers and 42 strikeouts before an oblique strain ended his season prematurely. Judge’s strikeouts were no surprise. He struck out a bunch in the minors and hey, a 6-foot-7 hitter has a pretty huge strike zone. Still, seeing a 44.2% strikeout rate in action is no fun.

Over the winter Judge went to work on his lower half and he came to Spring Training with a chance to win the right field job. Barring injury, it’s either Judge or Aaron Hicks, and I do believe this is a true competition, not one of those rigged ones we’ve seen over the years. So far this spring Judge has hit .310/.394/.586 with two homers and seven strikeouts in 33 plate appearances (21.2 K%), which is promising, but ultimately doesn’t mean much of anything.

There’s very little question the Yankees want Judge to be the right fielder of the future. Is he ready to be the right fielder of the present? My gut says the Yankees will indeed go with Judge over Hicks once the regular season rolls around, but what do I know. We’ll find out soon enough. Let’s preview Judge’s season, shall we? We shall.

What is an acceptable strikeout rate?

Well, that depends. It depends how much Judge produces when he does make contact. No, I don’t think there’s any way he can be productive with a 40-something-percent strikeout rate. The highest single-season strikeout rate in baseball history is 36.2% by current Yankee Chris Carter. He hit .223/.320/.451 (112 wRC+) with 29 homers in 585 plate appearances for the Astros that year.

Only six batters in history have struck out in one-third of their plate appearances while qualifying for the batting title, and two of the six failed to produce at a least average rate offensively:

  • 2013 Chris Carter: .223/.320/.451 (112 wRC+) with 29 homers and 36.2% strikeouts
  • 2010 Mark Reynolds: .198/.320/.433 (96 wRC+) with 32 homers and 35.4% strikeouts
  • 2012 Adam Dunn: .204/.333/.468 (115 wRC+) with 41 homers and 34.2% strikeouts
  • 2009 Mark Reynolds: .260/.349/.543 (127 wRC+) with 44 homers and 33.7% strikeouts
  • 1963 Dave Nicholson: .229/.319/.419 (111 wRC+) with 22 homers and 33.7% strikeouts
  • 2008 Mark Reynolds: .239/.320/.458 (97 wRC+) with 28 homers and 33.3% strikeouts

One of those things is not like the other. Anyway, there’s no precedent for an everyday player striking out as much as Judge did last year, mostly because you’d eventually get sent down or released if you struck out that much. Even the guys who struck out one-third of the time needed to hit for huge power and draw a ton of walks — 2008 Reynolds had the lowest walk rate among those six batters at 10.4% — to have value offensively.

Clearly, Judge needs to cut down on his strikeouts and both he and the Yankees know that. That’s why he continues to work on his hitting mechanics. He’s changed his leg kick however many times over the last two years, plus he’s changed his hand position as well. If Judge fails, it won’t be due to a lack of effort. He’s working with the hitting coaches all season and offseason and trying all different things. Being a 6-foot-7 hitter is hard.

Strikeouts around baseball have ticked up over the last few years, mostly because pitchers are throwing harder than ever before, and also because there are more specialized relievers. Here’s a quick plot showing wRC+ vs. K% for all hitters with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title over the last five seasons:

wrc-vs-k

There’s close to zero correlation between strikeout rate and offensive production, interestingly enough. Anyhow, looking at the graph, once you get beyond a 25.0% strikeout rate, there aren’t many dots above a 110 wRC+ or so. It seems striking out a lot won’t stop you from being a productive hitter, but it will reduce your chances of being a great hitter. Only 18 players since 2012 managed a 120+ wRC+ while striking out at least one-quarter of the time.

So I suppose that’s the magic number for Judge this year: 25.0 K%. Get the strikeout rate down there and he has a chance to be a quality offensive weapon for the Yankees. Judge struck out 24.7% of the time in the minors overall and 25.7% of the time at Triple-A (23.9% in 2016), so getting down to a 25.0% strikeout rate in the big leagues doesn’t seem impossible. Can he do it this year? That’s the million dollar question. The Yankees hope so. Getting down to 25.0% strikeouts in 2016 would be wonderful, but, if nothing else, we at least need to see a decline in strikeouts. Fanning four out of every ten plate appearances ain’t gonna cut it.

Exactly how much power are we talking?

A ton. We’ve seen it already. There was that aforementioned shot off the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar last year, and we all saw that ball Judge hit off the top of the scoreboard in his first spring game this year. His home run this past weekend really gives you an idea of how strong this guy is. There’s basically no effort in this swing:

Baseball America (subs. req’d) says Judge’s power “rates as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale” while MLB.com says it’s a 60. That’s really good! A hitter with 60 power can be expected to mash 25-30 homers a year. Someone with 70 power projects to hit 30+ dingers annually. The various projection systems love Judge’s power:

  • PECOTA: 20 homers in 468 plate appearances (26 HR per 600 PA)
  • Steamer: 17 homers in 378 plate appearances (27 HR per 600 PA)
  • ZiPS: 30 homers in 522 plate appearances (34 HR per 600 PA)

Only ten rookie hitters have qualified for the batting title while averaging 26+ homers per 600 plate appearances since 2000, and they’re guys like Albert Pujols, Mark Teixeira, and Prince Fielder. Basically the best power hitters of the century. The completely objective projection systems think Judge can produce at that level, at least when it comes to hitting the ball over the fence.

The Yankees haven’t had a rookie hit 25+ home runs since Bobby Murcer in 1969. Heck, prior to Gary Sanchez last year, the last Yankees rookie to hit even 20 homers in a season was Kevin Maas in 1990. If he makes enough contact — and that remains the big question — Judge could very well smack 25+ homers this summer. It’s not unreasonable, not given Yankee Stadium and the other hitter friendly AL East parks. Judge’s exit velocity on fly balls and line drives is elite. When he connects, he tends to do a lot of damage.

Don’t forget about his defense.

Given his size, power, and strikeout tendencies, it can be easy to stereotype Judge as a lumbering slugger. That’s not the case though. Judge is a very good athlete for his size and he has the skills to be a defensive asset in right field. He has a very strong arm …

… and he covers a decent amount of ground. He’s not going to be Brett Gardner out there in terms of range, but he won’t be Carlos Beltran either. “He’s a slightly above-average runner underway and plays average defense in right field with a well above-average throwing arm,” said Baseball America’s scouting report.

Judge doesn’t play station-to-station baseball despite being so damn massive. He offers some speed and will contribute with the glove in right field, especially since right field in Yankee Stadium is kinda tiny. So, even if he strikes out a bunch while finding his footing in the big leagues, Judge will still be able to provide value in the field. The big man is more well-rounded than you’d think.

* * *

What would qualify as a successful season for Judge? Geez, that’s tough. It’s about more than raw stats with Judge. Is he cutting down on the strikeouts? Is he showing a sound approach and recognizing how pitchers are attacking him? Judge is going to see a ton — a ton — of breaking balls down and away. It’s inevitable. Can he lay off more often than not?

The numbers might not be there, but if we see improvement with his approach and strikeout rate, it’ll be a positive. Judge is going to require patience, perhaps more than most prospects, though the potential reward is sky high. This dude can be a game-changing impact bat, and odds are he will get a chance to claim the long-term right field job this summer.

Fan Confidence Poll: March 13th, 2017

Spring Record: 13-4 (101 RS, 73 RA)
Spring Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, Tues @ ATL (no TV), Weds. vs. PHI (YES, MLB.tv), Thurs. @ TOR (no TV), Fri. @ DET (MLB.tv, MLBN), Sat. vs. BAL (YES, MLB.tv), Sun. @ HOU (MLB.tv)

Top stories from last week:

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Open Thread: March 12th Camp Notes

The Yankees had the audacity to lose a Spring Training game today. Season over! They scored two runs against the Braves and both came on solo homers: Austin Romine and Jorge Mateo. Probably not who you were expecting, eh? Starlin Castro and Kyle Higashioka had the team’s only other hits. At least the Yankees drew six walks, I guess.

CC Sabathia started and it was a disaster. Six runs (four earned) in two-thirds of an inning before he hit his pitch count. Those in attendance tell me Sabathia’s defense did him no favors — the Yankees committed five errors on the afternoon, including three by Ronald Torreyes — but still. Aroldis Chapman tossed a scoreless frame. Here is the box score — there are no video highlights because the game wasn’t televised — and here are the rest of the day’s notes:

  • At some point today the Yankees will announce their first round of roster cuts. Justus Sheffield‘s locker is cleaned out and that’s all we know for now. [Erik Boland]
  • Update: The Yankees announced their cuts. Sheffield, Daniel Camarena, Kellin Deglan, Francisco Diaz, J.P. Feyereisen, Brady Lail, Joe Mantiply, James Reeves, Nick Rumbelow, Evan Rutckyj, and Jorge Saez have been sent to minor league camp. There are 56 players left in big league camp by my unofficial count.
  • Mason Williams is on the travel list for Tuesday, which indicates he’s ready to play in games. He missed the start of camp with patella inflammation. [Mike Mazzeo]
  • The Yankees have an off-day tomorrow, their first of the spring, and it’s a complete off-day. No workouts or anything. Tuesday’s game is on the road against the Rays. It won’t be televised.

Here is the open thread for the rest of the weekend. MLB Network is showing World Baseball Classic games right now (Colombia vs. Dominican Republic, Italy vs. Puerto Rico), at 7pm ET (USA vs. Canada), 10pm ET (Mexico vs. Venezuela), and 6am ET (Netherlands vs. Israel). The (hockey) Rangers, Knicks, and Nets are all in action too. Talk about those games or anything else, as long as it’s not religion or politics.