Ozzie Guillen had a good rant yesterday when someone suggested to him that Mark Buehrle is not an “ace.” Joe Capozzi has it all, but here are a couple of highlights:
“Whoever said he is not the ace, I hope he doesn’t mind me taking his job because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about … If that kid was pitching for the New York Yankees, he would be the ace. But he’s pitching for the White Sox and the Marlins, who cares … This guy throws 84, 85, 86 making $100 million dollars. There has to be a reason. You make all that money with that crap he throws, he better be good.’’
Guillen said he’d use Buehrle in Game 1 of the playoffs if they were to start today because, even if he’s not the guy who strikes out 300 dudes a year, he knows what he’s gonna get from Buehrle.
People sometimes wonder why Guillen kept his job so long in Chicago and why he is ensconced in Miami. I think a big part of that is that his players absolutely love him. And one of the reasons they do: he has their backs, always.
The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.
I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.
Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.
Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.
To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.