Placido Polanco is under contract for $6.25 million next season with a $5.5 million team option or $1 million buyout for 2013, but manager Charlie Manuel said yesterday that he’d like to see the Phillies find an upgrade at third base this offseason.
“If we need to upgrade and we can, we should do it,” Manuel told Nate Mink of MLB.com. “If we can stay healthy, it gets back to that being a key. Being healthy and being on the field is going to take care of a lot of things.”
Polanco missed 40 games with an assortment of injuries this season and underwent a pair of sports hernia surgeries earlier this week. And the 36-year-old also missed 30 games in 2009.
He’s still one of the game’s top contact hitters and remains able to post a solid batting average with decent on-base skills, but Polanco has managed just 11 homers and a .365 slugging percentage in 1,125 plate appearances since signing with the Phillies. During that time there are 24 different third basemen with at least 750 plate appearances and his .702 OPS ranks 20th, ahead of only Kevin Kouzmanoff, Miguel Tejada, Jose Lopez, and Brandon Inge.
Jimmy Rollins hitting the open market as a free agent will be the Phillies’ biggest infield issue this winter and finding a clear upgrade over Polanco may not fit into the payroll plans, but at the very least a quality backup seems likely to be on Ruben Amaro Jr.’s shopping list.
Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer press is reporting that the Twins have placed pitchers Tommy Milone and Casey Fien on waivers. Should they pass through waivers, each player would have the right to reject a demotion to the minor leagues. Milone and Fien are only a part of what’s been ailing the 8-20 Twins.
Milone, 29, was solid out of the rotation for the Twins last season, but the same can’t be said of his start to the 2016 season. The lefty has a 5.79 ERA with a 19/7 K/BB ratio over four starts and one relief appearance. He was taken out of the Twins’ rotation following his final start in April.
Fien, 32, was also dependable for the Twins in previous years, but has had a rocky 2016 thus far. The right-hander has yielded 12 runs on 21 hits and three walks with 12 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings.
Milone will be eligible for his third and final year of arbitration after the season after earning $4.5 million this season. Fien has two more years of arbitration eligibility left — his third and fourth — and is earning $2.275 million this year.
Free agent starter Kyle Lohse is throwing for interested teams at the University of California, Irvine, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports.
Lohse, 37, remains unsigned into baseball’s second month on the heels of last season’s 5.85 ERA and 108/43 K/BB ratio over 152 1/3 innings. Although Lohse was quite good in the four seasons prior, teams are understandably reluctant to bank on pitchers in their late-30’s.
The Orioles, Tigers, and Reds have had reported interest in Lohse in recent months.
Anthony Salamone of the Morning Call reports that Majestic Athletic employees plan to protest at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, PA on Friday night. The employees are protesting Majestic’s owner VF Corporation’s attempt to undercut wages and medical benefits. VF Corporation acquired Majestic in February 2007.
Coca-Cola Park is home to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate. Majestic has manufacturing facilities in Easton, PA, which is less than a half-hour from Coca-Cola Park. The IronPigs, as well as all 30 Major League Baseball teams, wear uniforms manufactured by Majestic.
Corporations affiliated with Major League Baseball taking advantage of employees isn’t anything new. Last year, when protests over police violence disrupted the Orioles’ schedule, some employees with the Orioles and Aramark almost lost out on multiple days of pay.
There’s been a lot of rumbling that Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez will soon get the pink slip. His team is 7-20 entering Thursday’s action. Historically, front offices — particularly those of rebuilding/restructuring teams — respond to that by making coaching and/or managerial changes.
Per MLB.com’s Mark Bowman, bullpen coach Eddie Perez is likely to fill in as the Braves’ manager on an interim basis if and when Gonzalez is fired. Perez has been with the Braves as a coach since 2007. He played for the Braves in 10 out of his 11 seasons from 1995-2005. Perez wasn’t known for his bat, but was respected for the way he called games and handled the Braves’ then-elite pitching staff.
Bowman notes that Gonzalez isn’t expected to be fired over the weekend. If the team plays well, that could extend Gonzalez’s leash, so to speak.
First baseman Freddie Freeman issued a vote of confidence for his skipper, saying, “I think everything is getting magnified since we’re off to this start. I don’t know if it’s fair to put it all on [Gonzalez] because he’s not a player. We’re the 25 guys [who have to] go out there and play every day. We’re obviously not playing to our capabilities. To say that’s Fredi’s fault is unfair in my opinion.”