Rays’ manager Joe Maddon has played a bunch of games in NL parks lately, and he’s rather enamored of the style of play. So enamored, in fact, that he’s getting rather cavalier about losing his DH via substituting him in on defense in the middle of a game:
“The thing that I’ve really played with a lot this year is there’s
really no reason why you can’t put your DH in the game in an American
League game. The fact that he can play defense, that’s one
thing we have going for us. Whoever DHs for us is able to play a
position and play it pretty well, actually.
“I’ve become more comfortable with that this year. It really expands your bench further, where you don’t have to minimize
your movements. You can leave this guy in the game. You can move the
pitcher’s spot around and you have plenty of options to choose from to
pinch-hit for that pitcher if he happens to show up later.”
I’m glad that Maddon has seen the light on National League play and everything, but let’s be clear about something: if you’re given a DH slot, you probably need to use it and probably should avoid forfeiting it if at all possible.
The only situation where I can see being casual with the DH is when you have a good-hitting catcher that you want to rest up. Typically, AL managers simply give the catcher the day off rather than DHing him because they want to be able to use him on defense if the backup gets hurt or something. If I have a Joe Mauer, however, I’d much rather play him at DH and risk an at bat or two by a pitcher in the event of a catcher injury rather than risk losing three or four Joe Mauer at bats.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.