One of the things I’ve been watching in the early going is who the scapegoat will be in Boston if things don’t turn around quick. The easy choice — and leader at the moment — is Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He fits for so many reasons. He’s more or less unproven. He’s been given a starting job more or less by default. His backup is a fan favorite. As a catcher he’s a handy person to blame for both offensive woes (his own) and pitching woes due to his calling the game (even if the pitching stinks and the game is called from the dugout; no one said the scapegoat business is fair).
While the search for scapegoats can be nasty business, I’m kind of agnostic about it with a team like the Red Sox because they’re managed by smart people who tend not to overreact. If Salty is skewered, it will likely be after he’s had every reasonable shot to prove himself, not because the press and talk radio went nutty. And based on Jon Heyman’s column today, that seems to be what’s happening:
A Red Sox person said they weren’t concerned yet about Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who went 0-for-10 with five strikeouts to open the season against his old team, the Rangers. Word is, he has until June to prove he belongs as the starting catcher.
That’s a pretty decent amount of time before a contender looks at other options. In the meantime: get hitting, Salty.
According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, free agent reliever Joba Chamberlain has a deal with the Brewers. No confirmation or terms of the contract have been confirmed by the team yet.
Chamberlain, 31, had a promising resurgence in the Indians’ bullpen during 2016. He shaved his ERA down to a modest 2.25 mark over 20 innings with Cleveland, paired with an 8.1 SO/9 and less-than-stellar 5.0 BB/9 rate. Over a decade in the major leagues, the right-hander holds a career 3.81 ERA, 8.8 SO/9 and 3.7 BB/9 rate.
The veteran righty was released by the Indians in July after refusing re-assignment. He’s expected to compete for a major league role this spring.
After letting rumors of the deal percolate for the last week, the Athletics officially announced their two-year, $11 million contract with right-hander Santiago Casilla on Friday (and threw a little bit of shade at the Giants, too). As previously reported, the contract includes an extra $3 million in performance bonuses.
Casilla, 36, got his major league start with Oakland back in 2004, racking up a 5.11 ERA and four saves over six seasons in the A’s bullpen. After picking up a minor league deal with the Giants in 2010, the righty flitted in and out of the closing role with varying degrees of success. Notwithstanding a slight downturn in his production rate during the 2016 season, he earned 123 saves and a 2.42 ERA during the past seven years in San Francisco. Securing another closing role might be a little tougher across the Bay, however, with a bullpen that includes fellow closers Ryan Madson, Ryan Dull and Sean Doolittle.