Left-handed hitting first basemen/designated hitters certainly aren’t in popular demand at the moment, and there’s a good chance Brandon Allen will clear waivers after being designated for assignment by the A’s on Monday. Still, there are a few teams that might want to take a chance on him, including Oakland’s division rival in Texas.
The Rangers currently have just three left-handed hitters on their roster and failed Orioles prospect Brandon Snyder occupying a bench spot. Allen could come in as an occasional first baseman and DH against right-handers, and he might prove to be an upgrade on Mitch Moreland if given the chance.
Allen is a flyball hitter, so he was a pretty poor fit in Oakland from the start. Not only is the Coliseum outfield big, but the vast expanse of foul territory turns more infield pops into outs. He’d be a whole lot more likely to contribute in Texas. He still wouldn’t hit for a strong average, but he’d be a better bet to come in at .240-.250, and with his power and walk rate, that’d probably make him pretty valuable.
Philadelphia is another team I think Allen would help, but the Phillies aren’t going to cut any of their veteran part-timers to make room for him, even if he might be a better stopgap first baseman than anyone else on the roster.
If Texas passes, then I don’t see any obvious candidates to claim Allen. The Cubs are being pretty aggressive in trying to collect talent, but they’ll probably pass unless they think Allen is athletic enough to contribute as a part-time outfielder (he started 14 games in the left field for the Diamondbacks in 2010). I’d like to see Allen in Yankee Stadium, but the Bombers don’t have room on their bench. Allen is out of options, so if a team claims him and tries sending him to Triple-A, he’d have to go right back on waivers again.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.
With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP