Last month the Cubs fired hitting coach Gerald Perry one season after
he presided over the league’s highest-scoring offense, so having run
out of ideas for how to get Kosuke Fukudome on track now that he’s
faded following a great start for the second straight season they’ve turned to his old hitting coach from Japan for help:
Kyosuke Sasaki will join the team in Philadelphia on Monday. Sasaki
will work with Fukudome for a week or so, hoping to get the same kind
of success he saw with the Chunichi Dragons, where Fukudome won a pair
of batting titles. “He’s going to be on the field and in uniform with
us for a few days and let him observe,” manager Lou Piniella said. “If
need be, he can work with Fukudome all he wants.”
Last year Fukudome hit .327/.436/.480 in April compared to
.241/.340/.355 from May 1 on and this year he batted .338/.461/.592 in
April only to hit .235/.346/.385 since, but it’s worth noting that he’s
at .288/.377/.577 with nine extra-base hits in 15 games this month.
Meanwhile, Piniella has bypassed new hitting coach Von Joshua and plans to personally tutor Milton Bradley:
Piniella plans to take a turn soon at trying to solve Milton
Bradley’s season-long hitting slump from the left side of the plate
that neither Bradley nor two hitting coaches have cracked. “I had a
nice talk with Bradley,” Piniella said. “I’m going to work with him
personally for a while and see if we can get him going.” …
Joshua has worked with Bradley on getting his top half in sync with
his bottom half in his left-handed stance and swing. “We’re going to
try to simplify things a little bit,” Piniella said. “We’re going to
get him a little shorter path to the ball, increase a little bat speed.
And we can do that with a couple of adjustments, I feel. We’ll start
[today]. And when he’s ready, we’ll get him out there.”
Now that Sasaki “can work with Fukudome all he wants” and Piniella is
taking care of Bradley, Joshua is left with just 10 hitters to work
with. Or maybe 11 if you decide to count either Andres Blanco or Carlos Zambrano as hitters. Not a bad gig.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.