John Manuel of Baseball America reports
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?
Here are the Cardinals and Cubs lineups for Game 4 of the NLDS in Chicago:
3B Matt Carpenter
1B Stephen Piscotty
LF Matt Holliday
RF Jason Heyward
SS Jhonny Peralta
CF Randal Grichuk
2B Kolten Wong
C Yadier Molina
SP John Lackey
Yadier Molina is in the lineup despite leaving Game 3 early with obvious discomfort in his injured thumb. Randal Grichuk starts in center field after Tommy Pham played there in Game 3, which is interesting because in Game 1 the Cardinals used Grichuk in right field and Jason Heyward in center field. John Lackey is starting on short rest after winning Game 1, as manager Mike Matheny bypassed Lance Lynn with the season on the line.
CF Dexter Fowler
RF Jorge Soler
3B Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
2B Starlin Castro
LF Kyle Schwarber
C Miguel Montero
SP Jason Hammel
SS Javier Baez
Addison Russell is out of the lineup after injuring his hamstring in Game 3, so Javier Baez is taking his place at shortstop and batting ninth behind the pitcher. Jorge Soler’s hot streak gets him another start in the No. 2 spot, with Kyle Schwarber batting sixth again. Jason Hammel makes his first start in 12 days.
Phil Nevin retired following the 2006 season so he was too early to join the trend of All-Star players who, rather than simply wait around for a big league managerial job to be handed to them, actually went and managed in the bus leagues for a while.
He started in independent ball, jumped to the Tigers’ Double-A team and then Triple-A team and then, for the past two seasons, managed the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A club in Reno. In short, the man has paid his dues and has had good reviews from his players everywhere he’s been. So this is not too much of a surprise:
The Padres feel like the most natural fit given that Nevin’s best seasons came with the club and given that he makes his home just outside of San Diego. But all of those jobs are fairly desirable, either for personal reasons or because they’re fairly talented clubs who underachieved in significant fashion this year. Nowhere to go but up, right?
Chase Utley‘s suspension is quickly turning into a more theoretical than actual thing.
Following his Sunday suspension for sliding into Ruben Tejada and breaking Tejada’s leg, Utley appealed. Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement players are eligible pending appeal, and because MLB, the union and Utley’s agent could not get together for a hearing yesterday he was eligible for last night’s game. Of course he didn’t play.
Now, Tim Brown of Yahoo hears from a source that there will be no hearing today either.
This is simultaneously interesting given how much of a to-do the whole matter has become and boring given how, in reality, Utley is a pretty unimportant piece of the Dodgers roster at this point and his presence or absence will, in all likelihood, not affect any game on a level even approaching the manner in which he affected Game 2.