One of the things I’m most eager to see this spring is how Aroldis Chapman does. He’s such an unknown compared to everyone else. He’s been hyped to the nth degree. Is the hype justified? If so, he could prove to be a real difference maker, helping turn a Reds team that currently qualifies, competitively speaking, as “interesting” into one that is genuinely “frisky.”
We won’t have a clear take on Champan’s progress for a while of course, but yesterday he made his debut in Reds camp and things went well:
The ball seemed to snap in Hernandez’s glove as he shouted instructions and encouragement in Spanish. Watching their
$30 million investment pitch — GM Walt Jocketty, assistant GM Bob
Miller, scout Jerry Walker, manager Dusty Baker and pitching coach
Bryan Price. Tony Fossas, the Class A Dayton pitching coach and Cuban
native, translated coaching instructions from behind the mound . . . “Very impressive,” Jocketty said. “I’d like to see him when a hitter
gets in there. He showed good command. Everything was right around the
strike zone. I watched him do his fielding drills over there and that
was pretty good.”
Maybe the coolest thing about this is the Tony Fossas sighting. He’s the ultimate survivor, isn’t he? He wisely or luckily signed with the Cardinals just before they hired Tony La Russa, whose thing for situational lefties likely helped extend his career into his 40s. He takes a job with the Reds just before they sign the most highly-touted Cuban prospect in history, his Cuban heritage likely buying him a little more job security.
When the nukes start flying, I’m going to be wherever Tony Fossas is, because that dude will no doubt be in the right place.
So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).
Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.
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.