Cafardo on Sheffield, Lackey, Lowell and more

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sheffield.jpgNick Cafardo of the Boston Globe is back with his latest batch of Hot Stove goodies. Here’s a quick run-down of some of the more interesting tidbits:



– Gary Sheffield isn’t done. The 41-year-old slugger wants to return for his 23rd season and he has 3,000 hits on his mind.



“After talking to my wife and kids,” said Sheffield, “they want me to
get 3,000 hits [he’s at 2,689]. I want to keep playing, and I know I
can go out and hit at least 25 and maybe up to 40 home runs for some
team if I get the chance.”




So, Sheffield is currently 311 hits
away from 3,000. If we combine his last three seasons, including a very
productive 2009, Sheffield only has 299. Let’s just say the odds are
stacked heavily against him.




Representing himself, Sheffield
hasn’t heard from any teams just yet, however he said he would be open
to being a designated hitter while playing the field a couple of times
a week. Anybody who watched the Mets last season can’t help but
snicker.




– Cafardo speculates that if the Red
Sox sign John Lackey they could use Clay Buchholz as a chip in a
potential deal for Adrian Gonzalez or Miguel Cabrera. Under this
scenario, the Red Sox would sign an additional starter like Ben Sheets
as insurance for the rotation. Cafardo quotes an American League
general manager who says Casey Kotchman or Jed Lowrie could be valuable
to other teams in a possible trade this offseason.




– The Red Sox are one of at least a
dozen teams to inquire about reliever Mike Gonzalez. Gonzalez, 31, has
had arm and elbow issues in the past, however Boston hasn’t examined
his medical records as of yet.




– Mike Lowell could be asked to play
some first base if his hip doesn’t improve enough to play third base
regularly. According to Cafardo, the idea has been discussed internally.




– J.D. Drew underwent surgery on his
left shoulder last week to repair inflammation he suffered with during
the second half of the season. According to Cafardo, he should be ready
for the start of spring training.

Brewers’ Julio Mendez remains hospitalized after hit by pitch

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Brewers’ minor league infielder Julio Mendez remains in “critical but stable condition,” club GM David Stearns announced Friday. Back in August, Mendez suffered a cardiac event after he was inadvertently struck by a ball from the Angels’ Austin Krzeminksi during a game between the rookie-level affiliates. The 20-year-old was removed to a Phoenix-area hospital for treatment following the incident and has recently been transferred to a hospital in his native Venezuela.

Mendez was in his fourth season with the Brewers’ organization. He spent the majority of his 2017 run with the rookie-level AZL Brewers, slashing .255/.294/.355 with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBI and four stolen bases over 119 plate appearances. He currently holds a career .241/.324/.309 batting line, 33 extra bases and a .633 OPS through 668 PA.

Baseball is still on the back burner, however, as Mendez appears to have made little progress nearly a month following the hit by pitch. Thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.

Brad Ausmus out as Tigers manager

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The Tigers just announced that they will not be bringing Brad Ausmus back as manager in 2018. His contract was going to be up at the end of this season and they have decided not to renew it. Ausmus and his staff will manage the club for the final week of the season.

In the press release announcing the move, Tigers GM Al Avila said “[a]s we transition the ballclub in a new direction, I feel it’s best that we have a new approach and a fresh start with the manager position.” He went on to praise Ausmus for “doing an admirable job under difficult circumstances, especially this season,” a clear reference to the club’s decision at mid-season to blow things up. Justin Verlander and J.D. Martinez were traded in July and August, as were some more minor players. The club is clearly embarking on a lengthy rebuild of which Ausmus, who was brought in four years ago to lead a contending team, will not be a part.

In his four seasons at the helm the Tigers are 312-325. He won 90 games and the AL Central in his first season in 2014, but the Tigers were swept out of the ALDS in three games. In the past three seasons they finished fifth, second and will either finish in fourth or fifth this year. Injuries and poor bullpens have been the biggest problem, but clearly this Tigers team was supposed to win more over the past four years.

It’s unclear what direction the Tigers will take in their managerial search, but it’s clear they’re going to go outside of the organization, as Avila said in his statement that the status of the current coaching staff will be contingent on the wishes of whatever new manager they hire.

Happy trails, Brad Ausmus. Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager is now Baseball’s Most Handsome Unemployed coach.