Jose Bautista, as we mentioned earlier, launched his 39th and 40th home runs of the season on Monday night in the Blue Jays’ 3-2 defeat of the Yankees.
Because his previous career-high home run total was 16 and because we as baseball fans have been burned in the past by many a slugger, the 29-year-old Bautista is having to answer questions about his training methods. This from the Toronto Globe and Mail:
“Nobody’s said anything to me, and I don’t see why they should. Baseball
has a strict policy against those performance-enhancing whatever you
want to call them.
It’s not a secret and I didn’t reinvent the wheel,” Bautista continued. “I
keep saying it because it’s the truth. It’s as simple as getting [my
swing] started earlier, and I’ve got Cito and [hitting coach] Dwayne
Murphy to thank for that.”
Is it wrong that he’s forced to deal with such inquires because of the mistakes of the home run hitters that came before him? Sure. But we’re not that far removed from the steroid era, and we might not even be removed at all. Heck, Marlins catcher Ronny Paulino was busted for performance-enhancers just last week.
Let’s keep in mid, however, that baseball statistics have a tendency to spike and that every player goes through peaks and valleys. Bautista is batting .258 with a .970 OPS, 40 home runs and 95 RBI through 438 at-bats. He’s having a career year, and that is probably all that’s going on.
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.