Barry Zito tossed an inning in the Athletics‘ 5-1 loss to the Astros today, marking his first Major League appearance since 2013. It wasn’t exactly a triumphant return (Zito allowed a hit, a walk and a two-run homer to Colby Rasmus in his one inning) but it still represented a milestone for the veteran southpaw, who worked his way back to the Show after sitting out 2014 and spending most of this season at Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate. Here’s more from around the game as we begin a new week…
- David Stearns was involved in all facets of baseball operations as the Astros’ assistant GM, which Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets was one of the many reasons why the Brewers wanted him as their new general manager. Stearns’ multi-tasking ability made him the ideal choice as Jeff Luhnow’s lone second-in-command in Houston, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle notes that many teams have multiple assistant GMs who oversee different departments. Stearns’ departure, therefore, leaves the Astros with a big hole to fill. The Astros have several highly-touted members of the organization who could potentially be promoted to assistant GM, and Drellich notes that promoting from within could help the Astros retain these front office talents before they’re lured away by other clubs.
- There is some thought in rival front offices that the Giants could bid on Yoenis Cespedes this winter, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (Insider subscription required). Cespedes would likely be deployed in left, though some time in center field wouldn’t be out of the question if the Giants wanted to keep him playing every day while also finding time for Angel Pagan and Nori Aoki (assuming Aoki is brought back). It could be a moot point, however, as Olney wonders if Cespedes’ demands for a six-year deal are too rich for the Giants’ liking.
- From that same piece, a rival executive told Olney “the Giants are the quickest fix” of any of the non-playoff teams. While San Francisco has some clear needs in the rotation, they have a lot of payroll coming off the books as well as a solid core of proven veterans and controllable younger players.
- Like most GMs, Alex Anthopoulos uses both analytical and scouting data to inform his decisions, and he gave a bit of insight to Fangraphs’ David Laurila about which methods were used in some recent Blue Jays transactions. Edwin Encarnacion and Dioner Navarro may have been more inspired by scouting reports, whereas Justin Smoak may have been more of an analytics call. Both departments endorsed signing Jose Bautista to an extension in February 2011, a contract that has been a major bargain for the Jays.
- Also from Laurila’s piece, he spoke with Mark Melancon about his development into a star closer with the Pirates after an unsuccessful stint with the Red Sox. Melancon credits ex-teammate Russell Martin with encouraging him to use his cutter more, and he admitted that he’s satisfied that he was able to prove to his critics in Boston (both within the fanbase and the organization) that he indeed has “the closer mentality.”