I mentioned in the recaps this morning that it’s hard to gauge the impact of the rainout given that the Tigers will throw better starters out there while the Twins have a better bullpen. What I didn’t think about until some readers and the Strib’s Joe Christensen reminded me of it was that two games in one day will have some fallout with respect to Joe Mauer deployment. As in, can the guy catch for eighteen innings in one day and still be expected to carry the offensive load?
While Ron Gardenhire says he hasn’t made up his mind, Christensen and my reader thinks that Mauer will catch Game 1 and be the designated hitter in Game 2. Makes sense to me. Which may not actually be a bad thing in terms of offense maximizaton, because recently Ron Gardenhire has been using Brendan Harris as a DH when Mauer catches, but putting in Jose Morales behind the plate when Mauer DHs. I don’t know how Morales’s defense measures up — it’s likely inferior to Mauer’s — but Morales > Harris with the stick, and runs may be hard to come by against Porcello and Verlander today.
Right now the weather, while iffy — it’s going to be cold and gusty, but the rain will be of the scattered, as opposed to soaking variety — looks like it will hold. It’s possible that by the time we go to bed tonight the Tigers will have all but locked up the division. It’s also possible that the Twins will have tied the damn thing. Either way, I’m excited as hell for a truly meaningful twinbill.
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.