Not satisfied with Mike Stanton being perhaps the best young slugger in baseball, Marlins manager Jack McKeon wants him stealing bases now too:
He needs a little polish on the bases. But that’s because he has not had that much experience. I gave him the steal sign one night a while back and he stood there standing up. I was like, “Get in position to steal.” All of a sudden, boom! He steals it easy. This guy has so much explosive speed. His first step, you can’t believe.
I told him, “You can be a 30/30 guy, easy.” I’ve just got to sell him on the idea that this is what you’ve got to do.
I realize McKeon can do no wrong right now, but when it comes to Stanton why exactly is that “what you’ve got to do”?
For one thing, a very athletic 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds is still 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, which makes attempting 30-plus steals per season an injury waiting to happen. For another thing, Stanton has eight steals in 189 games for the Marlins and he’s been thrown out four times. He also never ran much in the minors, stealing a grand total of eight bases in 324 games.
I’m all for young players becoming more well-rounded and certainly Stanton becoming a better, more efficient base-stealer could benefit the Marlins, but asking a 21-year-old, 6-foot-5 slugger to do something he’s never done before is a whole lot of risk for not much payoff. He’s much better off being a 40/5 guy than trying to join the 30/30 club.
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).
Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.
Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.
Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.
Orioles’ center fielder Michael Bourn is expected to be sidelined for four weeks while he rehabs a broken ring finger on his right hand, according to reports from the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck. Bourn broke the finger while playing catch with a football after a spring training workout.
The veteran outfielder re-signed with the club earlier this week on a minor league deal and was prepared to compete for a bench role this season. He’s in line to receive a $2 million salary if he makes the major league roster and can make an additional $3.5 million in incentives based on a set number of plate appearances. Now, however, his chances of cracking the roster out of spring training look considerably diminished, as his current timetable gives him an approximate return date of March 25 if all goes well.
Bourn had an impressive, if short-lived run with the Orioles following his trade to Baltimore last August, batting .283/.358/.435 with two home runs and a .793 OPS in 55 PA. While still somewhat removed from the totals that brought him an All-Star nod with the Braves in 2012, his defensive chops should give the Orioles some depth in center once he’s healthy again.