Iannetta_Chris

Note to Jim Tracy: Chris Iannetta is good

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No actual quote yet, but here’s one of Troy Renck’s latest tweets, as Jim Tracy takes on his usual whipping boy, Chris Iannetta.

Tracy said iannetta in tough spot hitting 8th. He’s getting walks but has to be ready to hit when pitch shows up w risp

And then there’s this quote from Sunday, indicating that it’s mostly Iannetta’s glove that’s keeping him in the lineup.

“He’s going to get the opportunity to get that figured out because what’s going on behind the plate,” Tracy said. “With regards to our sequences, calling a game, keeping our pitchers in the game and getting some big outs when we need them to give us a chance to get back in a game, that’s something that he has improved immensely in.”

From that, one would think Iannetta is in the slump of his life. And, yeah, he is hitless over his last three games. But Iannetta has a .407 OBP and a .442 slugging percentage to go along with his .186 average. He’s ridiculously far from being an offensive liability, and Tracy just doesn’t get it, as evidenced by his usage of Iannetta in previous years as well.

Of course, it’s a fair criticism of hitters like Iannetta that they don’t drive in enough runs. An inability to hit singles and a willingness to take a walk with men on base will do that.

But Iannetta has seven RBI in 43 at-bats this year. And he’s doing it from the eighth spot in the lineup. Thanks largely to him, the Rockies lead the NL in RBI from the eighth spot in the order so far this year. Even putting the walks back into the equation, Iannetta is averaging an .119 RBI per plate appearance this year. National League No. 8 hitters as a whole average .085 RBI per plate appearance.

So, Iannetta is 40 percent better than the average No. 8 hitter in driving in runs. Despite spending most of his career batting seventh or eighth, he’s averaged 92 RBI per 550 at-bats. Joe Mauer, for comparison’s sake, has driven in 84 runs per 550 at-bats.

And, as a reminder, he’s also getting on base 41 percent of the time this season.

So, yeah, do the rest of the NL a favor, Jim. Bench him now while you still can.

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.

Josh Hamilton leaves camp with a tweaked knee

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers poses during a spring training photo shoot on February 28, 2016 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.

As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.

You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.