Josh Hamilton lost a month and a half of the season thanks to an ugly head first slide into home plate. So, logic dictates, he’s going cut that sort of thing out, right?
Nah. I didn’t see it, but someone in the comments told me that he slid head first twice last night. And here he was on ESPN Radio in Dallas yesterday, courtesy of Sports Radio Interviews, making it clear that he has every intention of continuing the Pete Rose act.
Why? Instincts, baby, instincts:
Head first slides. Will you ever do that again?
“Yeah. Yeah I still will. It’s just a reaction when you’re playing the game and playing it how you were supposed to be playing it. You know certain situations call for you to go head first instead of feet first and if the situation comes up again obviously I’m going to go head first. That situation has come up whether it be a triple and diving into third or stealing a base. Obviously I get off first base I have to dive back head first. I never saw anyone dive feet first back in.”
There’s a healthy debate about whether sliding head first is an advantage. I don’t have any real knowledge here, but my gut tell me that it is. Obviously on tag plays it gives you more maneuverability and stuff. Even on the pure speed play, it just seems like you’re better off going head first due to factors like momentum and center of gravity and stuff.
But I bet it isn’t so big an advantage that it’s worth the risk to someone as valuable and injury prone as Josh Hamilton. If I was his manager I’d rather he be thrown out on close plays ten times rather than see him diving into a bag. And as for that get-back-to-first-base stuff: Hamilton’s career high in stolen bases is nine, and it’s likely only going to go down from there. How about this: shorten the leadoff and, in the event of a pickoff play, do that run-back-to-the-back-corner-of-the-bag thing they taught us in little league.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.