You know, if I had to make a prediction right now I’d probably say that the Red Sox were the favorites to win it all this season. But it wouldn’t be at all unreasonable to pick the Phillies either. Indeed, I bet something like 90% of the people who engage in the prognostication business will pick one of those two teams as champs in their spring predictions.
But even if everyone else is doing it — and even if it’s kind of a sucker’s game to project ahead eight months and pretend any of us knows anything about what will happen — people always seem to go crazy when a ballplayer makes the same sort of prediction. Shane Victorino is about to find that out. Here’s what he said:
“I’m not one to sit here and make predictions or make bold statements to stir the pot,” Victorino said, “but I think if you look on paper, we’re the favorites to win it all.”
Seems like a plain and sufficiently humble enough way to say such a thing. Yet I am 100% certain someone will call him out on it because we don’t like it when ballplayers say it, no matter how reasonable it is. They’re supposed to play the “aw shucks, we’re gonna try our hardest and see what happens game” and never ever suggest that the team they happen to play for is the best.
I’d like to be pleasantly surprised and have there be no one who claims that Victorino is creating so-called bulletin board material or whatever, but I’m guessing someone will run with this in some loopy direction.
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.