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Author Archives: Zach Links
On this date in 1995, Greg Harris became the first post-1900 major leaguer to pitch ambidextrously. In the ninth inning, the Expos reliever blanked the Reds as he faced four batters – two as a right-hander (his natural side) and the other two as a southpaw. Here’s this week’s look around the baseball blogosphere..
- Blue Jays Plus goes under the hood with Dioner Navarro.
- Jays Journal says Aaron Sanchez could be a future closer.
- Inside The ‘Zona feels that the D’Backs’ approach might be crazy enough to work.
- Beisbol’s recaps the rise and fall of Kevin Towers.
- Lasorda’s Lair caught up with Eric Gagne.
- Rays Colored Glasses wonders if Jeremy Hellickson and Enny Romero could be dealt.
- Baseball News Source hasn’t been wowed by the Red Sox’s youth movement.
- The Baseball Stance says the Yankees should go for Chase Headley.
- Screwball Baseball talks competitive balance draft picks.
As a former player, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly can relate to what Cubs prospects Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara are going through, writes David Just of the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s just a time factor with the young guys,” Mattingly said. “They can look good right away, and the next year they come out and it doesn’t look good. Or they can look kind of shaky and figure a lot of it out. So time is going to tell.” As a youngster, Mattingly got off to a slow start with the Yankees, hitting .278 with a .326 on-base percentage in his first 98 games during the 1982 and ’83 seasons. He then led the American League in hits, doubles, and batting average in 1984.
Here’s the latest from the NL Central:
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington says re-signing catcher Russell Martin is a priority for the franchise, tweets Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We are going to try to do everything we can to keep Russ,” said Huntington. “We’d love nothing more than to have (Martin) in a Pirates uniform.“
- Huntington, however, reiterated the Pirates will not veer from their financial philosophy. “We’re going to continue to have to pay guys for what we believe they’re going to do, and not what they’ve done,” said Huntington (as quoted by MLB.com’s Stephen Pianovich). “The bigger markets certainly have luxury to be able to extend much beyond comfort levels to pay an extra year or two, to pave over prior mistakes with more money.“
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin does not “think there’s a need to go out and try to get another starter” and will instead focus on offense this offseason, reports MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. The Brewers are all but certain to pick up the $13MM option on Yovani Gallardo, McCalvy opines.
- The Brewers‘ biggest offseason decisions will be the infield corners and whether to exercise Gallardo’s option, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a recent chat. The Brewers will consider both internal and external options at first base, but Haudricourt notes finding productive first basemen is easier said than done.
- In a separate piece, Haudricourt writes Rickie Weeks is nearing the end of his tenure with the Brewers (his $11.5MM option isn’t expected to be exercised), but the team’s senior member in terms of service time is not thinking about 2015. “I’ll worry about that when the time comes,” Weeks said. “I’m still with the Brewers right now. That’s the way I look at it.“
- “What we’d really like is to have a bunch of really good baserunners,” is what Cubs manager Rick Renteria told reporters, including MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat, when asked about the club’s 2015 wish list.
Offense is at a premium this season and Rays manager Joe Maddon doesn’t think it will improve any time soon, writes MLB.com’s Bill Chastain. “The hitter’s at a total disadvantage right now,” Maddon said. “And there’s no advantages on the horizon. I don’t see it. That’s why it’s going to take a lot of creative thinking. It could be just going back maybe to something that had been done before. I’m not sure. But right now, offense is going south, and it’s going to continue going south based on pitching and defense. Everything, data, video, all the information benefits them over offense.” Maddon also pointed to improved bullpens throughout baseball as another factor in the depressed offensive numbers.
Here’s more from the American League:
- July acquisition Joakim Soria deserves a shot at pitching in high-pressure situations for the Tigers, writes Chris Iott of MLive.com. Soria could be the best relief pitcher the Tigers have and they paid a price to get him, so they should utilize him in the best way possible, Iott argues.
- The Indians led the majors in errors for much of the sesaon, but there likely won’t be sweeping changes in Cleveland’s infield, writes Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer.
- Nelson Cruz reiterated he would like to stay with the Orioles, but extension talks will still wait until after the season, tweets Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com.
- Tim Bogar is now the clear runaway favorite to be hired as the next Rangers manager, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter).
On this date in 2001, a crowd of 41,235 at Shea Stadium witnessed the return of baseball to New York City for the first time since the 9/11 attacks. Uplifting ceremonies before and during the game, which included singers Diana Ross, Marc Anthony, Lisa Minnelli as well as bagpipers, paid tribute to victims of the tragedy. Later, Mike Piazza‘s eighth inning home run gave the Mets a 3-2 dramatic victory over the Braves. Here’s this week’s look around the baseball blogosphere..
- Beisbol’s look at free agency’s X factor, Jung-ho Kang.
- Camden Depot takes a deeper look at the O’s rotation.
- Inside The Zona has some ideas for the D’Backs this winter.
- Vavel says Colin Moran is making a name for himself in the Astros organization.
- A’s Farm turns in their 2014 postseason organizational All-Star team.
- Cover Those Bases casts a ballot for Jacob deGrom.
- Blue Jays Plus is keeping the faith.
- Sports Injury Alert looks back on Alex Torres‘ cap.
- Cleveland Sports Talk previews the Indians’ 2015 rotation.
- Screwball Baseball wonders if Alejandro De Aza could be this year’s Cody Ross.
The Yankees announced that they have designated pitcher Chaz Roe for assignment. In a related move, Masahiro Tanaka has been reinstated from the 60-day disabled list to make his start today against the Blue Jays.
Roe, 27, was acquired by the Yankees from the Marlins on August 31st. In his season at Triple-A New Orleans, Roe posted a 3.66 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 64 innings of relief. Prior to joining the Yanks, his only big-league experience came in 2013, when he pitched 22 1/3 innings for the Diamondbacks, posting a 4.03 ERA with a respectable 9.7 K/9 and 5.2 BB/9. Roe made three appearances for the Bombers this year.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that the Yankees were somewhat handcuffed this year by their obligation to the legendary Derek Jeter and with that in mind he looks at ten other similar issues that could be brewing elsewhere. The list includes a look across town at the Mets where David Wright isn’t performing the way they had hoped when he inked his eight-year, $138MM extension. Here’s today’s look at the AL East..
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times looked at the major decisions the Rays will have to make this winter. Tampa Bay has a decision to make on Ben Zobrist but Topkin sees his $7.5MM option as a slam dunk and says it’s unlikely that they would trade him.
- If Masahiro Tanaka resembles his pre-injury self today against the Blue Jays, it might influence the Yankees spend this offseason, opines John Harper of the New York Daily News.
- One major league evaluator suggested to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald that there are questions about whether Red Sox target Yasmany Tomas will make enough consistent contact to be successful against the higher-quality pitching he will face in the big leagues. Tomas hit 15 homers in Cuba’s Serie Nacional in 2012-13 but went deep only six times this season, possibly because of a shoulder injury. Boston was in attendance for Tomas’ weekend showcase in the Dominican Republic.
- The Red Sox are likely to have one spot in their 2015 rotation reserved for a young starter and while there are several candidates, it’s not clear who will fit in that role, writes Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Rubby De La Rosa, who looked like a keeper a few weeks ago, struggled again on Saturday night in a 7-2 loss against the Orioles. Fellow prospects Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster, and Brandon Workman haven’t set the world on fire lately either.
Despite some speculation to the contrary, Bud Black will return as the Padres’ manager next season, GM A.J. Preller tells Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com.
“Like I said from the beginning, I viewed it as Buddy is our manager,” Preller said. “I had a chance to really enjoy the last month, to get to know him more on a day-to-day basis, getting to be around him and getting his thoughts on the team and his thoughts on baseball in general.”
When asked specifically if he looked forward to working with Black for an entire season, Preller told Bloom: “Yes, I’m looking forward to that for sure.”
The Padres exercised an option on Black’s contract for the 2014-15 seasons in November of 2012, so his deal is already in place for next year. Preller cited the team’s energy and work ethic as the main factor in the team’s decision to keep Black.
While the Padres’ 73-81 record isn’t what they had hoped for, they have reason for optimism going forward. Preller went on to tell Bloom that management is on board to make the Padres competitive again in the NL West.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes looks at six teams that badly need some fixing this offseason. The list starts with the Braves, who have been held back in part by B.J. Upton‘s five-year, $75MM deal. The Rangers also need some serious help in the form of two starting pitchers, a right-handed power bat, and possibly a catcher. The Phillies are in the toughest spot of all, Cafardo writes, as they are overloaded with older players on bad contracts. Here are some of the highlights from today’s column..
- As teams start putting together lists of pitchers who could be had in trade this offseason, Jeremy Hellickson’s name has been surfacing. One AL team believes that the Rays could make another Wil Myers-Jake Odorizzi for James Shields-Wade Davis type of deal centering around Hellickson, who is still just 27 and inexpensive.
- It looks more and more like Twins manager Ron Gardenhire will return next season. A Twins executive said he would be “surprised” if Gardenhire didn’t come back based on his young team playing hard and having fun playing the spoiler role down the stretch.
- Even with Alex Rodriguez coming back, Cafardo sees the Yankees as a possibility for Hanley Ramirez if the Dodgers don’t retain him.
- The Red Sox haven’t committed to bringing David Ross back next season but it doesn’t appear he’ll have to worry about finding a job. A few teams have privately discussed Ross as a backup/mentor. If Boston moves on from Ross, there aren’t many clear-cut alternatives on the open market.
- Red Sox vice president of player personnel Allard Baird had a very good interview for the Diamondbacks‘ vacant GM job, but Tony La Russa is still leaning towards Dave Stewart or Gary LaRocque, according to a source. Baird, of course, was the GM of the Royals from 2000-06.
- Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield is beginning to receive more interest as a managerial candidate. Don’t be surprised to see his name mentioned more often for openings, Cafardo writes.
Today is the bicentennial of The Star-Spangled Banner. MLB.com’s Doug Miller chronicles the link between our country’s national anthem and its national pastime from the first time it was sung before a baseball game (May 15, 1862) to the great and not-so-great renditions. From the national anthem to the National League East, here are today’s notes from the division:
- Rafael Soriano is making progress after working on his mechanics, but there is no timetable to reinstall him as the Nationals‘ closer, according to James Wagner of the Washington Post. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted recently Soriano’s $14MM club option for 2015 will not vest and the Nationals are all but certain to decline the option making him an interesting free agent to watch.
- Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg won’t speak ill of Ryan Howard or suggest a trade would make sense, but he admits a move to first base could be beneficial for Chase Utley, writes the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb. “I think playing first base would eliminate a little wear and tear at that position,” Sandberg said. “Whether that’s a consideration or not has yet to be seen.” Gelb suggests a plan for 2015 where Utley is slated to play about 130 games with 100 of them at first base.
- Kyle Kendrick isn’t sure if he made his final home start in a Phillies‘ uniform last night, but it sounds like he’d like to stay put in Philadelphia, if possible. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s out of my control. But if I’m somewhere else, I’ll miss it,” Kendrick told reporters, including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
- The Mets have shut down left-hander Dana Eveland for the remainder of the season because of elbow inflammation, reports MLB.com’s Tim Healey. The 30-year-old, who will become a free agent at the end of the season, has had a career year with the Mets posting a 2.63 ERA, 8.9 K/9, and 2.0 BB/9 in 30 relief outings (27 1/3 innings).
Some might argue that Mike Trout has taken his focus away from speed and put more into being a middle-of-the-order hitter, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia says that’s not really the case, writes Pedro Moura of the Orange Country Register. “If your point is, has he lost speed, the answer is no,” Scioscia said. “Is his game shifting more toward the middle-of-the-order hitter where he won’t run again? No. There’s been no strategic change in how we view his assets or how he should play the game, philosophically, this year.” Here’s more out of the AL..
- In theory, the Indians could move Jason Kipnis to the outfield in 2015 with the emergence of Jose Ramirez at shortstop and Francisco Lindor breaking in at Triple-A, but now is not the time, argues Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer. It’s not clear where Kipnis would fit considering Michael Brantley‘s season in left field and the less-than-stellar trade values of Michael Bourn and David Murphy. Nick Swisher could also be slotted in the outfield next year.
- The Indians will certainly look out-of-house for offseason improvements, but there’s a lot to like about what they have for 2015, writes Hoynes. The Indians have a number of young pitchers emerging at the same time and and bullpen has been sharp all year. Even though the bats haven’t been there this year, Hoynes says 2015 is looking like one of the best situations the Tribe has been in in a while.
- A reader asked Jim Callis of MLB.com (on Twitter) if Brady Aiken will have to disclose his medicals to all interested clubs next year and Callis responded in the affirmative. Aiken’s name came up in the news again when commissioner Bud Selig inadvertently implied that the Astros could still sign him. It seems rather unlikely that Houston would be allowed to do that.