John Manuel of Baseball Americareports
that the Padres are on the verge of calling up Kyle Blanks from
Triple-A, which is interesting given that the massive first-base
prospect appeared to be blocked by Adrian Gonzalez as recently as last month.
Since then the Padres have moved the 6-foot-6, 290-pound Blanks to left
field on a part-time basis and are apparently pleased enough with his
progress there defensively in 15 games at Triple-A to give him a shot
in San Diego.
It remains to be seen what type of role Blanks will play and how
long his first taste of the majors will last, because it’s possible
that the Padres are calling him up primarily to serve as designated
hitter for back-to-back interleague series in AL ballparks next week.
However, before then they host the A’s for a three-game series that
begins tonight and calling him up for that suggests Blanks could stick
around … as an outfielder.
Early reviews of his defense in left field have been fairly
positive, but Blanks is probably never going to be an asset there
defensively and would be the heaviest outfielder in baseball history if
he finds a long-term home at the position. That honor currently resides
with Frank Howard, who checked in at 6-foot-7 and 255 pounds 40 years
ago, yet played over 11,000 innings in the outfield while hitting 382
Of course, Blanks isn’t being called up for his glove and playing a
palatable left field would merely be a way to get his bat into the
lineup alongside Gonzalez. Banks has hit .283/.393/.485 with 12 homers,
22 total extra-base hits, and 39 walks in 66 games at Triple-A as a
22-year-old and is a career .304/.393/.505 hitter in over 1,900 plate
appearances in the minors.
As a right-handed hitter he’ll complement the left-handed hitting
Gonzalez and hopefully help a Padres lineup that ranks dead last among
NL teams in batting average (.215), on-base percentage (.297), and
slugging percentage (.365) against southpaws. San Diego also ranks dead
last in OPS from left fielders (mostly Chase Headley) and right
fielders (mostly Brian Giles), so there’s plenty of room for Blanks
somewhere. Plus, who wouldn’t want to watch a surprisingly nimble
300-pounder chase after fly balls at Petco Park?
Blue Jays hire Eric Wedge as player development advisor
In a move which will surely lead to some speculation about John Gibbons’ future, the Blue Jays have hired former Indians and Mariners manager Eric Wedge as player development advisor.
John Lott of Vice Sports notes that the hiring has been rumored for a while, as Wedge knows new team president Mark Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins well from when he managed in Cleveland. According to an announcement from the team, Wedge will work closely with the front office and new player development director Gil Kim “on strategies to enhance the Player Development system.”
Gibbons is a holdover from the previous front office, so as these situations often go, it’s not hard to imagine Shapiro and Atkins wanting to put in their own guy if the team disappoints.
When Pete Rose’s application for reinstatement was denied in December, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred wrote that the all-time hit king had done nothing to change his habits from when he violated Rule 21, baseball’s anti-gambling rule. In a stunning lack of self-awareness, Rose informed Manfred during their meeting that he continues to bet on baseball where it is legal. Now that his banishment from MLB has been upheld, Rose has apparently decided to double down on his reputation.
In a commercial that will air locally in Las Vegas during the Super Bowl, Rose helps promote the William Hill sports betting app. Former Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman is also featured. As you’ll see below, Rose’s ban for betting on baseball is used as the punchline.
It’s a clever spot. Rose is free to make a living, so if he wants to own his reputation at this point, that’s cool. No judgment here. While Manfred’s ruling seemingly left the door open for the Hall of Fame to make their own determination about his status, Rose might feel that he has nothing left to lose.
Rose has often used not being in the Hall of Fame as a form of self-promotion. We posted the commercial here, so it accomplished exactly what it was supposed to accomplish for all involved. But Rose also can’t act shocked why he continues to stand outside the gates. We’re all in on the joke, whether he wants to admit it or not.
UPDATE: Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that Chavez won his arbitration case and will make a $4 million salary in 2016.
10:47 a.m. ET: Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports that the Blue Jays and right-hander Jesse Chavez had an arbitration hearing on Friday, with a decision expected today.
Chavez, who was acquired from the Athletics this offseason, requested $4 million and was offered $3.6 million by the Blue Jays when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. Toronto is known as a “file-and-trial” team, so they bring these cases to a hearing unless a multi-year deal can be reached. The three-person panel of arbitrators will choose one salary or the other.
Chavez, 32, posted a 4.18 ERA and 136/48 K/BB ratio in 157 innings across 26 starts and four relief appearances last season. He’s expected to compete for the fifth spot in Toronto’s rotation this spring.
After trading Ender Inciarte to the Braves as part of the Shelby Miller deal, Yasmany Tomas will go into 2016 as a regular in the Diamondbacks’ lineup. Signed to a six-year, $68.5 million contract in December of 2014, Tomas batted .273 with nine home runs and a .707 OPS over 426 plate appearances during his first season in the majors last year while struggling defensively between third base and right field. Third base is out as a possibility at this point, but the Diamondbacks are mulling over another defensive change for him.
“We’re definitely talking about it,” Hale said. “(Outfield coach) Dave McKay and I, (General Manager Dave Stewart) and (Chief Baseball Officer) Tony (La Russa), we think it might be best to switch them around.”
When the third base experiment flopped, the Diamondbacks put Tomas in right because they felt he would be the most comfortable there. The metrics weren’t kind to him. He’ll now have a full spring training to work on things if the club decides to make a change. Peralta isn’t the defender that Inciarte was, but he’s better than Tomas, so it’s understandable why the Diamondbacks would change their alignment.
Tomas is likely to be a liability no matter where he plays, but the Diamondbacks won’t mind as much if his bat begins to meet expectations. For a team with designs on the postseason, he’s a big key for this lineup.