Tight oblique to sideline Cards closer Luke Gregerson

Cardinals closer Luke Gregerson is expected to be sidelined for at least several days of spring training with tightness in his oblique.

“No sense in trying to pitch him at this point,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said Wednesday.

Here’s one more way to look at it: In 2014, 30 home runs were equal to, in Player Rater terms, roughly 27.75 stolen bases. In 2017, they were worth roughly 17.25. That’s a huge downward shift, and it shows how precious steals are by comparison.

This is why you’ll find many modest-power, middling-to-low-batting-average hitters ranked in my lower tiers than perhaps expected. A player like Morrison, for example, is projected for .256-33 numbers by us, .249-19 by Steamer (he’d project to 27 homers there if granted the 503 at-bats we’re granting him) and .255-25 by ZiPS. He simply isn’t worth a pick before the final rounds in a mixed league due to the overabundance of players capable of meeting those thresholds. It’s not that I don’t like the guy; I just think those numbers are less valuable than they seem, relative to what a replacement-level player might provide.

“It’s not part of baseball,” Hamels said Saturday after the Rangers’ spring training game against the San Francisco Giants. “I know that’s the new analytical side of trying to reinvent the wheel, but I was brought up in the minor leagues on the five-man [rotation], and that’s what I’m designed and conditioned for.

“That’s the mental side of how you prepare, how you get ready for games, how you condition your body. You throw in the six-man, you might as well be in college. … That’s just not what MLB is to me. That’s not how I learned from my mentors, and that’s not the type of way that I’m here to pitch.”

Hamels, 34, went 11-6 with a 4.20 ERA in 148 innings over 24 starts last season with the Rangers. It marked the first time since 2009 that the left-hander did not log at least 200 innings in a season.

“Thirty-three or 34 starts are what I design; that’s what my goal is and that’s what I intend to do,” Hamels said. “This is what I’ve done. I’m a guy that pitches 200 innings. I know that’s something you don’t see as often, but that’s what’s made me, and that’s what I’m going to stick to.”

Rangers manager Jeff Banister said that he is not yet fully committed to using the six-man rotation, saying the team is “exploring it” but that “we haven’t gotten to that point yet.”