Jose Reyes batting third? Does it matter?

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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.  

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.