Athletics general manager Billy Beane said last October that he felt Daric Barton was the “best first baseman in the league” last season. My how things can change in a hurry.
According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Barton was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento following tonight’s victory over the Mets. He was presumably sent down to make room for second baseman Mark Ellis, who is expected to return from the disabled list tomorrow.
Barton is batting just .212/.325/.267 with zero homers and 20 RBI over 280 plate appearances this season. The 25-year-old entered play Tuesday with the second lowest slugging percentage among qualified batters. Yes, only Chone Figgins is worse. Barton was dropped out of the No. 2 spot by former manager Bob Geren earlier this month and found himself on the bench over the past two games, so this move doesn’t come as a major surprise.
Conor Jackson will likely draw most of the starts at first base for now. The 29-year-old is hitting .258/.350/.321 with one home run, 19 RBI and a .670 OPS over 184 plate appearances this season.
Kyle Schwarber made a quicker-than-expected recovery from ACL surgery and then, after an Arizona Fall League rehab assignment, was shuttled up to Cleveland for the World Series. But that’s not all he has done.
Schwarber is now the latest ever Best Shape of His Life All-Star. Or so says Kris Bryant, talking to Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com:
“We’ve seen first-hand the work that he’s putting in and how hard he’s been going . . . Honestly, I saw him out — maybe a couple weeks after his surgery — and he’s moving around, walking. And I’m like: ‘Dang, this guy’s not human. How? I saw your leg bend in half, and you’re walking around. This is unbelievable . . .(It’s) watching him dripping with sweat every single day. Every single day, this guy is drenched. I feel like he’s in the best shape of his life (now). There was no doubt in my mind that he could do it. It was just a matter of if they let him.”
May as well just forfeit now, Indians. No way you can deal with an October BSOHL guy.
When Mike Hazen left the Red Sox to go run the Diamondbacks, the Red Sox set out to look for a new general manager to replace him. Now, according to Pete Abraham, they may not replace him after all. Instead, president Dave Dombrowski may just leave the seat vacant and run the Sox all by himself.
Which, to be clear, is something Dombrowski is more than capable of doing, as he has been a general manager for decades now. A lot of this stuff is a function of job title-inflation, with guys in Dombrowski’s position being given elevated titles despite the fact that they are, more or less, still running the baseball operations department like they did when they were merely general managers. GM, meanwhile, has become a less authoritative position in many organizations, making it a somewhat less visible and perhaps less desirable job than it used to be.
Not that it’s totally about optics. The job of running a ball club is a lot more complicated than it used to be, and having one guy who can run big picture stuff and close deals like Dombrowski with another one being in charge of the more day-to-day tasks of the top baseball executive may be ideal. It also may help reign in some of the excesses of the top guy. Dombrowski, after all, may have been a master of a the big deal while running the Tigers, but in a lot of ways the win-now philosophy cost the club a lot of money and a lot of lower level talent. Another voice with a decent degree of power may be useful in that mix. As may a clear line of succession should Dombrowski decide to move on in a year or two.