I mentioned earlier that I’m going up to the Cleveland-Minnesota game tonight. Some people asked me why on Earth I would do that. Well (a) it’s baseball and baseball is wonderful; and (b) there’s some to-do afoot tonight regarding Jim Thome.
Specifically, the Indians will honor Thome with a special ceremony, complete with a presentation (I’m guessing it’s a sack of ‘taters) and a video tribute. Former Tribe manager Mike Hargrove will be there. So will Thome’s old salad days teammates Sandy Alomar, Jr., Carlos Baerga, Paul Sorrento and Chad Ogea (one of these things, is not like the others … one of these things just doesn’t belong …). Word on the street is that Albert Belle will be there if they can find that Hannibal Lecter straight jacket/face mask/hand truck setup before game time. If Manny Acta had any sense of the occasion he’d put Thome in at third base.
In addition, all fans will receive a Jim Thome 600 HR commemorative poster. Which is actually damn cool. There will also be a fireworks show “synchronized to Alternative Rock … which will also pay tribute to Jim Thome and his 600 HR milestone.” Which may be damn cool or may be the most ridiculous thing ever. Either way, I’m looking forward to it.
I’ll be in the Tribe Social Suite with the other blogger and social media-types, but if anyone else plans to be at the game, drop a line in the comments or on Twitter or to my email or something and we can try to meet up at some point during or after the game. Because really, no one should watch a Jim Thome-themed Alternative Rock fireworks show by themselves.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.