Minnesota attempted zero stolen bases while being swept out of ALDS in three games, but you can be certain that Texas will test New York’s ability to control the running game early and often in the ALCS.
Texas swiped 123 bases during the regular season to rank seventh among all MLB teams and second to only Tampa Bay among playoff teams, and then they went 6-for-7 on the bases in the five-game ALDS.
Elvis Andrus led the team with 32 steals and Nelson Cruz, Julio Borbon, Ian Kinsler, and David Murphy also each swiped double-digit bags. And while the Rangers’ speed will obviously play a factor in how often they run, Jorge Posada’s weak arm may play an even bigger role in how often manager Ron Washington gives them the green light.
Posada threw out just 13 runners in 85 attempts for a career-worst rate of 15 percent and the only catcher in the league with at least 500 innings behind the plate who was easier to run on was his backup, Francisco Cervelli, at 14 percent. As a team the Yankees threw out just 15 percent of steal attempts, which is by far worst in the league. In fact, no other AL team was below 20 percent.
Andy Pettitte’s pickoff move is great enough to more or less shut down Texas’ running game, but CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and especially A.J. Burnett can be run on and as Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse points out opponents went 51-for-54 swiping bases off Yankees relievers. Obviously the Yankees can limit the Rangers’ running by keeping them off the bases in the first place, but once Andrus, Cruz, Borbon, Kinsler, Murphy, and even Josh Hamilton reach they figure to put Posada to the test constantly.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.