Last year I closely followed Camp Panda, Pablo Sandoval’s allegedly intense workout regimen that was intended to get the portly young superstar in shape. That didn’t happen. Sandoval reported to spring training in more or less the same shape he had been in in 2009 and got larger as the season progressed, ultimately losing his starting job. Which worked out fine for the Giants, of course, because with him on the defacto DL (15 days; gravy), Juan Uribe moved to third, Edgar Renteria returned to shortstop and they carried the team to the title.
And while yesterday’s signing of Miguel Tejada was occasioned by reports that Sandoval will be the Giants starting third baseman, you can bet that Bruce Bochy is more than willing to slide Tejada over to third and find a cheap glove man for short in the event that Sandoval, once again, fails to do the one thing completely within his control: report for duty in shape to play baseball.
You can bet that Sandoval’s agent is well-aware that Miguel Tejada can play third base. Because last night, soon after the news broke, he or someone close to him told Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News that Sandoval has lost ten pounds so far this offseason.
I’m off the Camp Panda beat this winter because last year it was a dud. As such, I will merely pass along reports of Sandoval’s weight loss rather than dwell on them. Good for him if he’s lost the weight. Forgive me, however, if I don’t get excited about it until a relatively thin version of the man shows up for camp in Arizona in February.
It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:
In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.
Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.
Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.
The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.
The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.
Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.