Wilson Valdez

Let’s watch someone convince himself that Wilson Valdez isn’t a falloff from Jimmy Rollins

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I don’t know if Jimmy Rollins is going to stay in Philly. I kind of think he will because it’s a great match and I have a hard time envisioning a world in which he isn’t wearing red pinstripes. But I do know this much: if he leaves the Phillies, the team would be way worse off if they decided to make Wilson Valdez their everyday shortstop.

Not that you’d know it from reading this blog post from Bob Vertone at Philly.com today:

The Phils had a better record over the last two seasons when Valdez started at shortstop than when Rollins did. Even if you throw out the seven games Rollins started during the eight-game “hangover” this season, his win percentage (.622) is lower …

Because as we all know, the only thing that impacted any of those games was the presence of Wilson Valdez and the absence of Jimmy Rollins. Nothin’ else was going on. At all.

Beyond that, Vertone tries to make a case that the differences between Valdez and Rollins aren’t all that great. Which is quite a trick when you realize that Rollins has an OPS+ of 97 in over 7500 career plate appearances while Valdez has an OPS+ of 67 in just over 1000.  And that Rollins is still a damn solid shortstop. And that Valdez is himself turns 34 next season.

Rollins may play someplace else in 2012. If he does, you can bet your bippy that the Phillies are going to look for a replacement for him who is better than Valdez. Or, if they don’t, they’ll know that they’ll have a big falloff at short that they’ll have to make up elsewhere.

Of course, as the pic reveals, Valdez is versatile. Maybe he can help out in the pen.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.