The Twins have been playing pretty poorly since clinching last week. Ron Gardenhire has noticed, and had this to say after last night’s loss to the Royals:
“Not a good game for our ballclub,” he said. “We didn’t pitch worth a
crap. We haven’t pitched worth a crap this whole trip. It’s not
acceptable. You have to do better. You can’t lose the edge.”
“We lollygag the ball around the infield. We lollygag our way down to first. We lollygag in and out of the dugout,” Gardenhire did not add, but totally should have.
I don’t know how you keep a team sharp when there’s two weeks between clinching and the first playoff game. Maybe Gardenhire doesn’t either, given that his team has had to play 163 games to make into the postseason last year and only won the division by a single game the previous time they made the playoffs in 2006. But he’s been here before. The Twins won the Central by 13.5 games in 2002 and comfortably again in 2004.
Overall, however, I have to think that health — as opposed to how well you do in mostly meaningless games against the Royals in the last week of the season — is most important to a playoff team this time of the year. My guess: the Twins will be just fine.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.