Things may change once everyone gets an extended look at Yoenis Cespedes during spring training, but for now the A’s are said to be thinking about starting him in center field and incumbent center fielder Coco Crisp isn’t thrilled about the news.
Crisp, who re-signed with the A’s for two years and $14 million in December, told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he thinks leaving him in center field would be the best option:
I’m going to make all the plays. If someone feels there’s someone better than me, it’s hard for me to believe. Unless he’s a demigod come down from the heavens, no one is going to outshine me in center field.
“Unless he’s a demigod come down from the heavens, no one is going to outshine me in center field” might be the clubhouse leader for my favorite quote of the year.
And he’s probably right, because Crisp has generally graded out very well defensively in center field–his Ultimate Zone Rating was below average last season, but 30 runs above average for his career–and plenty of the scouting reports on Cespedes questioned whether he’d be best suited as a corner outfielder long term.
Crisp also noted that he chose to re-sign with the A’s in part because they offered him a chance to play center field, whereas the Rays wanted him as a left fielder. However, he also made it clear that ultimately he’ll play wherever the A’s want him. Whichever way the A’s align their outfield there will be a logjam, as Crisp and Cespedes playing every day would leave Seth Smith, Josh Reddick, Jonny Gomes, and Colin Cowgill fighting over one spot and possibly some designated hitter work … assuming Oakland doesn’t sign Manny Ramirez.
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.