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.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.