Carney Lansford replaces Don Baylor as Rockies hitting coach


Don Baylor is out as the Rockies’ hitting coach, which at first glance may seem strange after Colorado scored the third-most runs in the league this season. However, thanks to playing half their games at Coors Field the Rockies always score a ton of runs. In fact, they’ve finished among the league’s top five in 17 straight years.

To account for their hitter-friendly ballpark a stat like adjusted OPS+ is more useful than raw totals and the Rockies ranked just 10th among NL teams in OPS+ this season after ranking fourth in 2009. Away from Coors Field they hit just .226/.303/.351, ranking second-worst in both OPS and runs on the road.

On the other hand, both Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki have thrived under Baylor’s instruction and it’s tough to blame him for Todd Helton getting old. Beyond that, Carney Lansford was fired after serving as the Giants’ hitting coach in 2008 and 2009 because San Francisco ranked 15th and 13th in runs.

Baylor has said that he’d like to manage again and Cito Gaston recommended him to the Blue Jays as his replacement, but there hasn’t been much talk of him being a top candidate for any openings yet. Colorado has reportedly offered him another job within the organization.

Blue Jays sign Danny Espinosa to minors deal

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Free agent middle infielder Danny Espinosa signed a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays, the team announced Saturday. The deal includes an invite to spring training, where Espinosa is scheduled for his first split-squad game against the Orioles this afternoon.

Espinosa, 30, was inked to another minor-league deal with the Yankees in January. The veteran infielder was competing for an infield job until the team picked up second baseman Neil Walker on a one-year, $4 million deal last Monday. Prior to his release, he slashed .160/.276/.320 with one home run through his first 12 games with the Yankees this spring. He didn’t fare much better in the majors last year, either, batting a cumulative .173/.245/.278 with six home runs and a .523 OPS in 295 PA for the Mariners and Rays.

Blue Jays starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is still dealing with a bone spur in his heel and has officially been ruled out for Opening Day, which could clear a path for Espinosa to claim a starting role in Toronto. Of course, he won’t be the only candidate under consideration — Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz are still in the mix as well, though no final decision appears to be made just yet.