During an appearance with Steve Cochran on ESPN1000 in Chicago yesterday, Lou Piniella said he believes Mike Quade deserved the opportunity to return as Cubs manager.
“Mike’s a good baseball man. He’s been in baseball for a long, long time,” Piniella said. “He got that opportunity when I left there and I tell you what, the club responded to him and they played exceedingly well. And I know it was a very tough decision for everybody in the organization choosing between Mike and other viable candidates, but you know, he deserved it.”
Quade led the Cubs to a 24-13 record (.649) after Piniella stepped down in late-August in order to tend to his ailing mother. Ryne Sandberg was the fan favorite for the job and certainly deserved consideration after being named the Pacific Coast League manager of the year in his first season with Triple-A Iowa, but Quade earned the vocal support of many of his players.
As for Piniella, he told Cochran that his mother is still fighting.
“She’s having her good days and her bad days,” Piniella said of his mother’s health. “Sometimes I’m heartened a bit and sometimes it’s discouraging. She’s going to be 91 years old now, here in December, so she’s a scrappy old gal. I needed to come home, I did the right thing and she’s appreciated the fact that I’ve been home.”
Piniella, now 67, is almost certainly done in the dugout, but he’ll resurface in the game eventually. Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner recently told the Chicago Tribune that he hopes Piniella will consider re-joining the club in an advisory role.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.