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.

Phillies sign outfielder Michael Saunders

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 3: Michael Saunders #21 of the Toronto Blue Jays runs to first after being walked during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 3, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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The Phillies have signed free agent outfielder Michael Saunders.

Saunders was an All-Star in 2016 due to his wonderful start, but he cratered in the second half of the season. Overall is numbers looked good — he hit 24 homers and posted a line of .253/.338/.478, but his second half line was .178/.282/.357 in 58 games. He’s not the best defender around either.

The Phillies could use him, however, and if he has another red hot first half, there’s a decent chance they could flip him if they wanted to.

Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays nearing a two-year, $35-40 million deal

Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista flips his bat after hitting a three-run homer during seventh inning game 5 American League Division Series baseball action in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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It was first reported that the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista were close to a deal last night. Now Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is near completion. It will likely a two-year contract in the $35-40 million range.

Bautista had a tough 2016, hitting .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI, and some clubs likely considered a long-term deal for the 36-year-old too risky, this leading to the relative lack of reported interest in Bautista by other clubs. But back-to-back ALCS appearances by the Jays and the success and popularity Bautista has experienced in Toronto make his re-signing there a pretty sensible move for all involved.

The Jays, who already lost Edwin Encarnacion to free agency, get their slugger back on a short term deal. Unlike anyone else, they don’t have to give up the draft pick attached to him via the qualifying offer. Bautista, in turn, will make, on average, more than he would’ve made on the qualifying offer if he would’ve accepted it and a raise over the $14 million he made in 2016.