Thoughts from Tuesday's games

Leave a comment

Twitter is broken for me and a bunch of other new users, so let’s post some quick notes here:

– Hopefully, Tuesday’s ninth inning will bring an end to manager Terry
Francona’s attempts to keep Nick Green in the shortstop mix for the Red
Sox. Green did better than expected as a stopgap in place of an injured
Jed Lowrie and a gimpy Julio Lugo, but he doesn’t get on base, he
doesn’t have much range and he’s just not a very smart ballplayer. Two
ugly plays led to two runs against Jonathan Papelbon tonight, allowing
the A’s to tie it up.

Lowrie needs to play regularly for the next few weeks, allowing the
Red Sox to see whether they truly need an upgrade at short for
September and the postseason. Green should be thought of strictly as a
utilityman.

– MVP candidate Jason Bartlett hit ninth for the Rays tonight.
Against a left-hander. Against an ace left-hander he’s actually slugged
.483 against in his career. Bartlett is hitting .333/.386/.511 this
season. He’s hit .328/.381/.464 against southpaws in his career. He was
9-for-29 against CC Sabathia. And the Rays arranged it so that he would
potentially get one less at-bat than Pat Burrell, Gabe Kapler or Dioner
Navarro.

For the record, leadoff hitter B.J. Upton was batting .184/.311/.254 against lefties this season.

– Ross Gload walkoff blast against Rafael Soriano in the bottom of
the ninth Tuesday was his fourth homer for Florida in 134 at-bats this
season. He hit three homers in 388 at-bats for Kansas City last year.
Sadly, the Royals may well have been better off with him instead of
Mike Jacobs. They’re still paying most of Gload’s salary, and the
pitcher they gave to the Marlins for Jacobs, Leo Nunez, got the win in
relief tonight.

– Poor Scott Downs. Battles back from bases loaded with no outs in a
tie game against the Mariners by getting a 5-2 groundout and a
strikeout and then gets 0-2 on Ichiro Suzuki with a chance to send the
game into extra innings. He throws a perfect breaking ball off the
plate and barely off the ground and Ichiro somehow bloops perfectly in
between the shortstop and center fielder, ending the game. No one else
in baseball gets that pitch in the air.

Downs now has three losses and an additional blown save in his last five appearances.

He wouldn’t have even had to face Ichiro tonight if the defense had
done a better job on the 6-2 groundout. It was just to the right of
third base, and Scott Rolen could have touched third and still had
plenty of time to throw home, with the caveat being that the runner
would have been in his throwing lane. When he fired home instead, the
Jays still might have had a chance for the double play at third base,
except the shortstop was late getting over to cover the bag.

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.