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Marty’s musings: Christmas week makes for a quiet week in baseball

In a quiet week, a trade, a retirement, and a mourning. 

Divisional Series - St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves - Game Five Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Welcome to ‘Marty’s Musings’, my weekly column of numbers summarizing the happenings in the baseball world. I am your guide for taking an analytic look at the news and notes throughout the game, and highlighting this week’s key pitching matchups.

As we heard into the New Year, nearly every high-profile free agent remains unsigned. Last week, the Pirates kept up their annual tradition of sending good young players to other teams, an MLB journeyman retired, and baseball mourns the loss of a knuckleball old timer.

News & Notes

81 - Year old Phil Niekro passed away last week in Atlanta. The Hall of Fame knuckleball pitcher played for over 20 seasons, during which time he suited up for four teams, though most of his career was with the Braves (first in Milwaukee then in Atlanta). Niekro was a productive and prolific innings eater, the likes of which we will likely never see again. He finished his career with over 5400 innings pitched, 3342 strikeouts, and 97 wins above replacement.

552 - Games played by Josh Bell in a Pirates uniform, over the last five seasons. Bell had a decent 2019, finishing the year with 37 home runs, and a .277/.367/.569 slash line, good for a 135 wRC+. Bell is all-hit-tool, as his defense has dragged down his total value pretty significantly. It looks as if the NL will not be using the designated hitter in 2021, so his value will remain similar to what it would have been in Pittsburgh.

15 - Seasons played by Howie Kendrick who announced his retirement last week. The Nationals declined the mutual option on their 2019 NLCS MVP. Kendrick had a good career, having played in 50 playoff games with four teams: the Nationals, Dodgers, Angels and Phillies

94 - Days until Opening Day 2021...maybe. Whether or not there will be fans in the stands and whether or not MLB starts as scheduled is yet to be determined.

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Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score, a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row, and a contributing writer for The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano