Red Sox land outfielder Hermida in deal with Marlins

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hermida.jpgThe Red Sox acquired disappointing outfielder Jeremy Hermida in a three-player deal with the Marlins on Thursday, surrendering left-handers Hunter Jones and Jose Alvarez in the bargain.
Hermida was hardly an obvious fit for the Red Sox, given his left-handedness and the presence of J.D. Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury ahead of him in the outfield. Still, GM Theo Epstein’s philosophy is to keep bringing in talent and to worry about making it work later. Hermida hit a modest .259/.348/.392 in his age-25 season, and it was clear that the Marlins were done with him. The Red Sox, though, saw a former elite prospect with very good plate discipline who is only now reaching his prime years and snapped him up.
At the moment, Hermida tops Boston’s depth chart in left field, in the event that Jason Bay leaves as a free agent. He’ll most likely enter the year as a part-timer, and we wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him being traded elsewhere later.
The price was modest. Jones, 25, is a fringe reliever who gave up 13 runs in 12 2/3 innings in the majors this season. He has impressed enough against lefties in the minors to give some reason for optimism that he’ll be useful in a limited role. Alvarez is just 20, and he managed a 1.52 ERA in 12 starts and two relief appearances in the short-season New York-Penn League last season. However, that was after he failed as a starter in the Sally League in 2008. Neither lefty ranked among Boston’s 10-best pitching prospects.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉