Earlier Matthew asked whether Jerry Manuel’s idea to bat Jose Reyes third is a good idea. Here’s a second question: Would it make a difference?
It probably won’t. There have been multiple studies of lineup optimization over the years. For the most part they conclude that the particular lineup doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of difference. Oh sure, on average the guys near the bottom of the order will get fewer plate appearances than the guys at the top, but as long as you group your better hitters near the top and your worse ones near the bottom, the specific slots don’t much matter.
The upshot: as long as Manuel has Reyes, Beltran, Wright and Bay up near the top it probably doesn’t matter who’s third. The only thing that could change this is something Manuel himself pointed out, and that’s that it might be a bad idea if such a move gives Reyes the heebie jeebies. And like I said this morning, the manager’s primary job is to keep things on an even keel.
So feel free to mess around Jerry. The papers will squawk some, but they’re going to do that no matter what you do, so you may as well do what you want to do.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.