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.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.