Most of the baseball world is on airplanes today with players, coaches, writers and everyone else flying home or to playoff cities or beaches or duck blinds or wherever it is they spend their offseason. The exception: top brass who will be meeting for several teams to discuss the fates of their managers.
One specifically will be the Cardinals, who, according to the Post-Dispatch — are expected to meet this morning about the fate of manager Tony La Russa. It’s expected that the ultimate decision on whether he comes back will be his, but since it’s La Russa and since he’s difficult, he’s likely to bring up all kinds of conditions and quirks and stuff in order to return, and the bosses probably need to be ready.
Two men who don’t have their fate in their hands are Jerry Manuel and Ken Macha, each of whom could be given the axe by the time your coffee pot is empty. John Russell too. The upshot here is that Major League Baseball hates teams to make managerial moves while the playoffs are going on, so that leaves today and tomorrow for those teams to drop the axe.
And of course, HBT will be here, dancing on the graves of the departed as soon as it happens.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.