“Nobody sits in Vlad’s seat”

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Interesting insight from Buster Olney on Vlad Guerrero today:

Vladimir Guerrero is more than just the Rangers’ cleanup hitter. He is a centerpiece of respect and dignity and consistency, the wise old man of the group. He sits in the same seat on the team’s bus everyday, and if you happen to sit in his seat accidentally, before he arrives, one of the other players will politely inform you that you are residing in Vlad’s seat.

Then, after going over the possibilities for Game 2 — including benching Vlad — Olney says:

But within the Rangers family, which has functioned particularly well this year, the impact of those kinds of alterations would probably disturb their internal dynamic — and Washington probably does not want to be perceived as changing stuff. Remember: Nobody sits in Vlad’s seat. And it’s hard to imagine, unless Guerrero went to Washington and took himself out of the lineup before Game 2, that anybody else would be hitting cleanup and playing right field.

Most of us ignore the internal clubhouse dynamics most of the time because we simply can’t know about them.  Then we hear stuff like this and it makes us re-think what happens on a baseball field. Not every sub-optimal decision by a manager is a “dumb” decision.  A lot of the times they’re driven by all manner of concerns, some tactical, some political. We’d probably be better served as fans to consider that more often. God knows I ignore it most of the time.

That said, this is the World Series. And with all due respect to Vlad Guerrero’s seat on the bus, if the Rangers want the best chance to win Game 2, he should probably have a seat on the bench. And I bet even those on the Rangers who revere him the most would agree with that.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.