Carlos Gomez says he's the best center fielder on the Brewers

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Carlos Gomez threw down the gauntlet for rookie outfielder Lorenzo Cain on Tuesday, telling Anthony Witrado of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he is the best center fielder on the team.

“They know and I know that I can do the job every day,” Gomez said.
“I’m the best centerfielder on the team. But Lorenzo is doing a really
good job for the last two weeks and it’s not fair for me to come off the
DL and take his chance. I understand.”

“He is a really good player, but I think I’m still the man on this team.”

Brewers manager Ken Macha didn’t sound too pleased Gomez’s remarks:

“I’ll just say that’s interesting,” Macha said. “You can take that any way you’d like. I’m just saying it’s interesting.”

It wasn’t too long ago that Cain was thought of as the center fielder of the future, however a knee injury limited him to just 60 games in 2009. The 24-year-old outfielder has rebounded in a big way this season, batting .317/.402/.432 with three homers, 27 RBI and 26 stolen bases between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville. Given the chance at regular playing time after Gomez suffered a concussion, Cain has a .314/.368/.431 batting line over his first 51 major league at-bats.

Though Gomez was out of line to voice his opinion in such a public manner, he isn’t completely wrong. He rates among the best defensive center fielders in all of baseball. Unfortunately, the 24-year-old outfielder has yet to progress with the bat, hitting just .228/.285/.348 with five home runs and 22 RBI during his first season with the Brewers. Also, his walk rate has actually dropped from 6.3 percent in 2009 to 5.8 percent this season, while his strikeout rate has increased from 22.9 percent in 2009 to 25.6 percent. His glove isn’t enough to compensate for that.

Face it, the Brewers are going nowhere this season, so they have little to lose by continuing to run Cain out there every day. He deserves it with the way he’s been playing. But if Gomez keeps yapping, look for him to be a trade chip in what figures to be an eventual offseason in Milwaukee.

UPDATE: Donald Trump declines Nats offer to throw out the first pitch

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UPDATE: Welp, we wont’ get to see that:

Sad!

8:53 AM: It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.

With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.

Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.

2017 Preview: Texas Rangers

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Texas Rangers.

The Rangers somehow won the AL West last year despite not being super great at any one aspect of the game. There are stars here — Adrian Beltre, Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Rougned Odor are all spiffy players — but the Rangers won the division by being greater than the sum of their parts. They scored a decent number of runs despite some bad collective peripheral numbers and they allowed more runs than anyone in the AL except the Twins and Athletics. Yet they had a great record in one-run games and outperformed their pythagorean record by a WHOLE lot. Luck shined brightly on the 2016 Rangers.

It’s hard to expect luck to hold in any instance, but that’s especially the case when there have been some pretty significant changes. Changes like the loss of Carlos Beltran, Ian Desmond and Mitch Moreland. In their place: A full season, the Rangers hope, from Shin-Soo Choo, a converted-to-outfield Jurickson Profar and Mike Napoli. That may wash out OK, especially if Choo is healthy, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see some regression in two of those offensive slots.

Starting pitching is also a big question mark. Cole Hamels at the top is not a problem, obviously, and if Yu Darvish is healthy and durable the Rangers have an outstanding 1-2 punch. Martin Perez in the third spot presents promise, but he’s been exactly average so far in five major league seasons. The back end of the rotation has some real problems. Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross are hurt at the moment and even if healthy, Cashner seems to be a shell of his once-promising self. A.J. Griffin is looking to pitch in his first full season since 2013. If the Rangers are strong contenders all year it’s gonna be on the “Spahn and Sain and two days of rain” model, but I have no idea what rhymes with “Darvish” and that’s sort of a problem.

The bullpen is going to look a lot like it did last year. Sam Dyson will close, but manager Jeff Banister has shown in the past that he’s not a slave to keeping guys in any one role down there. Jeremy Jeffress will likely set up but he’s closed before. Some think Matt Bush or Keone Kela could close. We’ll see Tanner Scheppers and lefty Alex Claudio. Banister has a Manager of the Year Award on his mantle and while that often doesn’t mean anything, it usually suggests that a guy knows how to deal with his pen. Banister will do OK with what he has.

Really, though, the rotation is a concern, as is hoping that a 35-year-old Mike Napoli and a soon-to-be 38-year-old Adrian Beltre can continue to be the types of players who can form the offensive core of a playoff team. There’s talent and a track record here, but there’s a lot of uncertainty. For that reason, I suspect the Rangers will fall back a smidge this year, even if they’re a playoff contender.

Prediction: Second Place, American League West.