I’m predisposed to being a contrarian. I’m no crazy iconoclast or uber-non-conformist — I drive an Accord for crying out loud — but that is the general impulse. If you tell me something is the best ever, I’m going to look for flaws. If you hype something up, I’m going do my best to explain why everyone should calm down. I honestly believe that taking such an approach aids in critical thinking, but I’m also totally prepared to admit that a good amount of the time it only makes you sound like a mild ass. Oh well. Can’t change what I am.
So you can understand my frustration at the Red Sox-Phillies series that begins in Citizens Bank Park this evening. The two teams who were almost everyone’s pick to win the pennant. Big hitting against big pitching! A possible World Series preview! The source of the frustration? I can’t really argue with any of that.
I picked them to meet in the World Series before the season began, and if you put a gun to my head right now I’d say they’re still the favorites. The Red Sox’ recent mini-slump notwithstanding, they are big hitting, leading the majors in scoring. The Phillies have had a few bumps of their own — Ryan Madson and Roy Oswalt are out — but they still have the best ERA in baseball and it wouldn’t be easy to argue against their staff as a whole being the best in the game.
It is what everyone is saying it is. There isn’t much room for being a contrarian here. What an absolute drag!
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.