Still waiting on Indians' Carlos Santana


While Stephen Strasburg and Mike Stanton made their much hyped debuts on Tuesday, one of the game’s other top-five prospects, Carlos Santana, has been left in Triple-A to continue his harassment of International League pitchers.
The 24-year-old Santana is hitting .314/.447/.580 with 12 homers and 47 RBI in 188 at-bats for Triple-A Columbus. He’s walked six more times than he’s struck out (44 to 38), and he’s even 6-for-6 stealing bases. He ranks third in the International League in OPS behind veteran first basemen Dan Johnson and Chris Richard. Only Mike Hessman and Johnson have hit more homers.
Meanwhile, Lou Marson has batted .193/.262/.267 as the Indians’ starting catcher. He finally contributed his first homer last week, but that’s his only hit in his last 22 at-bats.
Of course, there is a reason Santana wasn’t hauled up as soon as the Indians were sure he wouldn’t be a super-two player after 2012; he’s not the defender that Marson is behind the plate. He throws out less than a quarter of would-be basestealers, and his game-calling skills continue to leave something to be desired.
Santana isn’t going to be moved off catcher — he may always be below average defensively, but he also doesn’t embarrass himself. The Indians will just continue to be patient with him. His opportunity may come immediately after the All-Star break or in August. Victor Martinez didn’t establish himself in the majors until age 25. Santana, a similar all-around talent, is on a seemingly identical path. He’s not going to be a threat to hit .300 annually like Martinez, but he should have some 25-homer seasons even while sitting about once a week.

Wild Card, Division series umpires announced

Angel Hernandez
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Major League Baseball just released the umpire assignments for the Wild Card Game and the Division Series. As always, the basis for these assignments is a proprietary, scientific calculation undertaken by Major League Baseball, mixing in (a) skill; (b) seniority; and (c) trolling of baseball bloggers who, unlike 99% of the rest of the world actually know the names and track records of various umpires and who are easily riled.

Which is to say that, while we have no Joe West in the early playoff rounds this year — too obvious, perhaps? — we do get an Angel Hernandez.

Here are the assignments. The asterisks represent the crew chief of each unit. Guys with little up arrows next to their names are regular season crew chiefs in their own right. Print this out and keep it near your television so you know who to yell about before the broadcasters tell you who to yell at:

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Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon

I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.

First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.