World Series Rangers Giants Baseball

No, Vlad Guerrero would not have helped last night

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Earlier today I observed that the decision to sit Vlad Guerrero and play Nelson Cruz in right field was a good one by Ron Washington, because Cruz got to a couple of balls in the outfield in the early innings that Vlad never would have reached.  One of them came on a ball towards the gap with a runner on base that almost certainly would have scored a run. Another fly out likely would have dropped for extra bases and could have led to a second run. While those plays ended up not mattering a ton given the final score, they seemed pretty big at the time.

Yet Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News thinks that sitting Vlad was a mistake, because it left a hole in the lineup:

Without Guerrero, the Rangers went back to what they were in 2009, a donut of a team. They had a great big hole in the middle. It ended up resulting in nearly a dozen donuts on the scoreboard in a 9-0 loss in Game 2. Sure, no balls bounced around in the outfield and no errors were made, but the Rangers offense offered up only the sound of silence . . . For all the fury in Josh Hamilton’s bat and all the thunder and lightning supplied by Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler in the bottom half of the order, the lineup works because Guerrero gives it real girth.

“Girth?”  That’s a new one to me. But whatever, it’s a pretty empty sentiment here, because Guerrero’s “girth” hasn’t helped the Rangers all that much lately.

Yes, he has driven in some runs this postseason — 6 in 12 games — but he has not been a force or anything. He’s 13 for 49 in with three doubles.  He hit .278/.322/.426 with only seven homers in the second half of the regular season.  If you extrapolated that performance over a whole year you’d have yourself one substandard DH. To the extent he’s provided any girth, it was provided between April and early July. Not much since.

Grant is a really good writer and blogger, but in this case I think he’s doing what I’ve been doing a lot of for the past couple of years: remembering the Vlad Guerrero who used to be rather than the Vlad Guerrero who currently plays baseball for the Texas Rangers.  That latter fellow is someone whose bat in no way makes up for his glove and who shouldn’t get a sniff of the outfield for the rest of the series.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.