I know there are a lot of things that go into building a manager’s reputation that none of us see: friendships, conversations on the field before games and all manner of things that go on when baseball isn’t actually being played. But I still have a hard time seeing why Juan Samuel would, as Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports, be up for at least three open managers’ jobs this winter. Zrebiec calls Samuel a candidate for the Seattle, Pittsburgh and maybe even the Toronto jobs.
He may be highly respected, but this season gave us the closest thing we usually get to managerial acumen being tested via the scientific method. The Orioles lost a lot of games under Dave Trembley. Samuel came in and the team performed no better. Then Buck Showalter came in and the team improved dramatically. This all occurred with basically the same roster.
I don’t really think we can perfectly quantify managing like that — and as I’ve said, a guy who keeps the clubhouse happy and retains the respect of his players is what teams should really be looking for — but how do you not look at what happened in Baltimore this year and, at the very least, ask yourself if there aren’t better options than Samuel?
On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”
Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:
To that, Archer said:
For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.
The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:
“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”
Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.
That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.