McGwire to blame for Holliday's slow start?

Leave a comment

Thumbnail image for holliday_090827.jpgSome have speculated that Matt Holliday’s
relationship with new hitting coach Mark McGwire might be one of the
selling points to keep him in St. Louis. Well, think again.

In an interview with Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, agent Scott Boras attributed Holliday’s early season struggles to swing changes McGwire had made during offseason coaching sessions.

“After five weeks [Holliday] went back to his old stance,” Boras said.
“From that point on, he was the same player he always has been.”

Coincidence or not, Holliday batted
just .226/.282/.383 with four home runs, 20 RBI and a .665 OPS over the
first 28 games of the season with Oakland. He hit .335/.419/.547 with 20 homers, 89
RBI and a .967 OPS from that day forward.

For all the concern about Holliday’s
home/road splits, it’s worth noting that he batted .377/.442/.667 with
nine home runs, 35 RBI and a 1.119 OPS at Busch Stadium, a place that
was one of the toughest stadiums for a right-handed hitter during the 2009 season, according to the newest Bill James Handbook.
Even tougher than Citi Field, a supposed “death valley for right-handed hitters.”

Boras might be using McGwire’s
adjustments as a bit of a scapegoat here, but it’s clear that Holliday
can be a productive hitter just about anywhere.

Mariners sign Wade LeBlanc to a one-year deal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Mariners signed free agent left-hander Wade LeBlanc to a one-year deal, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reported Saturday. LeBlanc previously signed a minor league agreement with the Yankees, but later requested his release following the team’s Grapefruit League outing on Friday. The Mariners have yet to confirm the deal or disclose its terms.

This is LeBlanc’s second stint with the Mariners in two years. He was initially acquired by Seattle in the summer of 2016 after the Blue Jays traded him for cash considerations, and produced a 4.50 ERA, 1.6 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 in 50 innings before getting designated for assignment in August. The 33-year-old southpaw was last seen in the majors with the Pirates, with whom he generated another 4.50 ERA, 2,3 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 68 innings in 2017. He entered free agency after the club declined his $1.25 million option for 2018.

The signing comes at a fortuitous moment for the Mariners, who were pressed to find additional bullpen depth after right-handed reliever David Phelps tore his ulnar collateral ligament last week. As with most injuries of that kind, Phelps is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2018 season. LeBlanc made a full transition to the bullpen in 2017 and boasts the kind of reverse platoon splits (.216/.270/.389 vs. righties and .292/.333/.500 vs. lefties in 2017) that will make him an effective replacement for the right-handed Phelps.