Texas Rangers v San Francisco Giants, Game 1

For the love of God, Ron Washington: get Vlad out of right field

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I was uneasy with Vlad Guerrero playing right field before Game 1. Afterwards? Ye Gods, don’t let this happen again, Ron Washington. Vlad was hell on wheels in the outfield last night. And not round wheels. Square, stone wheels like something you’d see on the Flintstones.

Among the highlights:

  • First inning, Buster Posey at the plate. Posey hit a shallow fly ball.  Guerrero came nowhere near it. Thank goodness for Ian Kinsler who busted out from second base to get that, as if he were given a memo before the game that he was supposed to play both second and right.  He turned a double play on that one, but it could have been disastrous. And yes, maybe that was a matter of coaching — Guerrero was playing deep — but he was probably playing so deep because the Rangers knew he couldn’t go back on anything and wanted to avoid balls over his head;
  • In the eighth, He charged Edgar Renteria’s single, but gave it the Roger Dorn ole treatment, allowing it to roll to the wall and putting Renteria on third;
  • Three batters later was maybe the worst image of the night: Freddy Sanchez hit one that dropped into the bullpen. Vlad was shaky enough getting over to it, but then couldn’t find the handle, allowing Sanchez to go to second. It was originally scored a double, but the beat writers who were at the game and on Twitter said that everyone in the press box was absolutely howling at the official scorer on that one. They were right to howl, and he quickly changed it to a single and an error.

Beyond those plays he just looked slow and kind of sad. Misplayed hops. Bobbled balls. Jogging into the corner. I started making my usual Fred Sanford jokes during the live chat and people started defending Fred Sanford from such a vile association.

But I don’t mean for this to be a pile-on on Guerrero. I think he was trying his hardest. It’s just that his hardest is nowhere near good enough. Not for the World Series. Not in that outfield.  He may have done worse than expected, but the expectations shouldn’t have been high.

Ultimately, Ron Washington didn’t put Guerrero in a position to succeed. It didn’t cost the Rangers the game — there were a lot of other things that went wrong — but it cost a lot to fans in psychic terms, what with having a player who struck us with awe for so many years fumble around feebly.  I always thought the old timers who talk about Willie Mays in the 1973 World Series were overstating how bad it was, but now I know how painful this sort of thing can be.

The worst part: Ron Washington said after the game that Vlad is going back out there tonight.  For the love of God, I hope someone talks him out of it today.

Pirates sign left-hander Cory Luebke

Cory Luebke Getty
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Eric O'Flaherty wasn’t the only reclamation project added by the Pirates today, as the club also announced that they have signed left-hander Cory Luebke to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Luebke once looked like a solid rotation piece for the Padres, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since April 27, 2012. He’s undergone a pair of Tommy John surgeries since. Now 30 years old, he logged seven innings in the minors last season before requiring a procedure to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. The Padres cut ties with him in November after declining a $7.5 million club option for 2016.

It’s hard to count on much from Luebke at this point, but he told Adam Berry of MLB.com that he feels healthy and hopes to compete for a bullpen job in the spring.

White Sox reportedly considering Ian Desmond

Ian Desmond
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.

After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.

Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.

Mariano Rivera to get his plaque in Monument Park on August 14

Mariano Rivera
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The greatest closer in history is going to get the ultimate honor the New York Yankees bestow on August 14. That’s when Mariano Rivera will get his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Rays.

There was some chatter in the last year or two about whether the Yankees were somehow lowering their standards out there, what with guys like Tino Martinez getting honored. But if that’s something you care about it won’t matter in this instance. Rivera would’ve been worthy even if the old snobby ways had held and only inner-circle types got a plaque, what with him being a key member of five World Series-winning teams and his status as the all-time saves leader in the regular season and the postseason.

The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42 in 2013. He’ll get his plaque in August. Then, on the first ballot for which he is eligible, he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame, likely with a percentage in the mid-to-high 90s.