SI’s Jon Heyman listened to Scott Boras hold court up at the GM meetings in Chicago, and reports that (a) Boras thinks that Damon should get a four-year deal; (b) Damon doesn’t want less than his current $13 million; (c) the Yankees are saying that they are “absolutely not” going to offer him four years — more like 2; (d) the Yankees offer would be at $10 million per; and (e) the Giants have some interest in Damon.
Setting aside for a moment the fact that Heyman’s report reads more like a press release for Johnny Damon as opposed to a news story (Jon: the reason Damon leads many other players in stats measured “over the past 12 seasons” is because he’s old!) let’s parse this:
Just because the Yankees have more money than God doesn’t mean that they’re going to throw it away stupidly. Indeed, in the past few years we’ve seen the Yankees move from a model of spending outrageous amounts of money stupidly to spending outrageous amounts of money wisely. If you’re the Yankees, in an offseason where almost every other team is looking to slash payroll, and there are at least three all-star caliber left fielders around, why on earth would you give the oldest one $52 million over four years? If I’m Brain Cashman I call the bluff on Damon, wish him well in that big outfield in San Francisco and focus my attention on Matt Holliday.
Which, come to think of it, may be Boras’ hope anyway. If the Yankees are eliminated as a Damon suitor — and a hard demand for a four year deal for the guy should eliminate them — it opens up the market for Holliday, also a Boras client, considerably.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.
With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP