Brandon Allen

Time for Diamondbacks to make a switch at first base?

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Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson named Juan Miranda his primary first baseman at the end of the spring, but he’s obviously never really warmed up to the former Yankee.  As of Friday, Miranda had started just 33 of the team’s 70 games. The decision to release Russell Branyan seemed like just the break Miranda needed to solidify his job, but Gibson has recently gone to Xavier Nady more and more, even against right-handers.

It doesn’t seem entirely fair.  Miranda is hitting just .235 in 132 at-bats this season, but that comes with a .784 OPS.  The NL league average for first baseman this year is a .795 OPS. Nady has just a .683 OPS in his 124 at-bats.

Furthermore, the Diamondbacks are 21-12 with Miranda in the lineup, compared to 17-20 the rest of the time.

Still, Miranda isn’t anything special.  He’s 28, and he’s never going to be anything more than a platoon player.  So if Gibson isn’t happy with him, the Diamondbacks should probably just move on now.

But who to move on to? 25-year-old Brandon Allen has been terrific in Triple-A, hitting .299/.421/.525.  He came up last year and hit .267/.393/.400 in 45 at-bats down the stretch, and he really should have been given more consideration for a starting job this spring.

Then there’s 23-year-old Paul Goldschmidt, the minor league home run leader with 21 bombs for Double-A Mobile.  He is hitting a remarkable .338/.458/.667 in the Southern League.

It certainly wouldn’t be very fair for the Diamondbacks to bypass Allen again.  He has nothing left to prove in Triple-A, while Goldschmidt has yet to receive an at-bat at the level.  Still, there has been more speculation lately that Goldschmidt could be the choice. Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers recently said that he could be added around the All-Star break.

Either way, Miranda’s days with the Diamondbacks may be numbered.  He’s out of options, so it wouldn’t be surprised to see him flipped for a possible bullpen arm at some point within the next few weeks.

David Ortiz could be in the Red Sox TV booth this season

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 02:  David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox tips his cap to fans during the pregame ceremony to honor his retirement before his last regular season home game at Fenway Park on October 2, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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A month or so ago it was reported that David Ortiz was going to meet with the Red Sox and NESN to discuss, maybe, spending some time in the broadcast booth in 2017. He’s retired now, of course. Gotta keep busy.

Today we read that, yes, Big Papi may take the mic. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said that Ortiz may be in the booth on a limited basis, and that Ortiz has talked about wanting to “dip a toe in that water.”

I’m quickly becoming a fan of ex-players who want to, as Kennedy puts it, “dip a toe” in broadcasting as opposed to those who want to make it a full-time job. Former players who become full-time broadcasters tend to start out OK, but eventually burn all of their good anecdotes from their playing days and just become sort of reactionary “back in my day” dudes. There are some exceptions to that of course — guys like John Smoltz and Dennis Eckersley have kept it fresh and Tim McCarver never rested on his playing laurels as he forged a long career in the booth — but for any of those guys there are just as many Rick Mannings Bill Schroeders.

The part time guys who dip in and dip out — I’m thinking Pedro Martinez, Alex Rodriguez and even Pete Rose, who did a good job this past fall after a rocky 2015 postseason — tend to be more fresh and irreverent. They really don’t give a crap on some level because it’s not their full time job, and that not giving a crap allows them to say whatever they want. It makes for good TV.

If Papi can hold off on the F-bombs, I imagine he’d be a pretty good commentator. If he can’t, well, at least he’ll be a super entertaining one for the one or two games he gets before getting fired.

Blue Jays reliever was a bike messenger a couple of offseasons ago

DUNEDIN, FL - FEBRUARY 21:  Matt Dermody #50 of the Toronto Blue Jays poses for a portait during a MLB photo day at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium on February 21, 2017 in Dunedin, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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The Toronto Sun has a story about reliever Matt Dermody of the Blue Jays. Dermody made his big league debut in 2016, pitching in five games. Before that he pitched three full seasons in the minors, never rising above A-ball, before paying in three levels of the minors last season, just before getting to the show.

It was certainly a wild ride for Dermody after his time in the bush leagues. But nowhere near as wild as some of his rides in the 2015-16 offseason, when he took a job as a bike messenger in New York:

. . . four times he was involved in accidents, the worse being when he was sent head over heels on to the street.

“I was going down 2nd Ave. and I was riding behind another bicycle in the middle of the street,” said the 6-foot-5, 190-pound lefty. “But the bike in front of me decides to break really hard and swerves and I didn’t have time to react so I hit him and I flew over him and I skid on the ground and all the contents in my bag flew out on the street, traffic stopped and everything. I’m pretty fortunate I didn’t get hurt. I landed pretty nicely and kept working.”

It’s good that he’s fine and he can laugh about it now, but the story is just as telling as it is, in hindsight, amusing.

Dermody was a 28th round pick, so he didn’t get a sizable bonus. Not having risen above A-ball, he wasn’t making much money and, in all likelihood, did not yet show up too prominently on the big club’s radar. He was both incentivized to take a job that is super dangerous and allowed to do so because no one asked or, apparently, cared. This past offseason, with his big league debut behind him and a chance to make the 25-man roster for the full year, he has stayed home and worked out, no doubt with the front office and coaching staff keeping tabs on him.

It’s a nice story, but it’s one that provides you with a pretty good look at how major league teams look at — or, in Dermody’s case, don’t really look at — their minor leaguers.