Yesterday Jon Heyman made a reference to “the small coterie of Internet zealots” who are responsible for getting BBWAA voters to change their minds about Bert Blyleven and push him to the brink of election to the Hall of Fame. While Heyman was unbelievably snotty in writing it like he did, he wasn’t technically wrong. There is one man whose zeal — and unlike my friend Jon, I don’t consider that an epithet — rises above all others: Rich Lederer of Baseball Analysts.
Jon Paul Morosi profiles Rich today, and one thing is 100% clear: Lederer is no blogger stereotype trapped in the basement and telling baseball writers that they shouldn’t believe their own eyes. He’s a fan. A passionate one, whose father was a big league baseball writer, and who took up the cause of Blyleven’s Hall of Fame candidacy, not because his slide rule told him to, but because it just made a ton of sense. Morosi does a good job with his story, and I recommend it.
It’s also worth noting that Blyleven isn’t the only person who got a boost from Rich Lederer. He may not realize it, but if it wasn’t for Rich, I probably wouldn’t be blogging here today. Rich was good enough to give me a couple of guest posts over at Baseball Analysts back in 2008 when no one knew who I was. Dave Studeman from the Hardball Times saw and liked those and that eventually led to him inviting me to bring my old Shysterball blog over to THT. If I’m not writing at THT, it’s kind of doubtful that I’d have a sufficient profile to make anyone at NBC give a hoot about me.
So, thank you Rich. Both for what you did for Bert Blyleven’s worthy candidacy, and for what you did for me.
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.