In news that will surprise absolutely no one, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports has some very juicy details about Red Sox players not loving their time with manager Bobby Valentine.
According to Passan players “blasted Valentine to owners John Henry and Larry Lucchino during a heated meeting called after a text message was sent by a group of frustrated players to the team and ownership in late July.”
Passan specifically cites Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia as having spoken up on behalf of teammates upset over Valentine leaving Jon Lester in to allow 11 runs on July 22.
And during a meeting at a New York hotel called by ownership Passan says “some players stated flatly they no longer wanted to play for Valentine.” That was nearly three weeks ago and obviously nothing has happened since then, at least publicly. In fact, Henry gave Valentine a vote of confidence just last week, saying a change will not be made this season and scoffing at the idea that the manager was to blame for the team’s sub-.500 record.
However, at this point Valentine’s odds of returning in 2013 are very much in question. Passan details a whole bunch of other alleged incidents throughout the season that paint the clubhouse as anything but thrilled with Valentine. General manager Ben Cherington confirmed that the meeting took place, calling it “productive” and “a forum for people to express whatever frustration needed to be expressed.”
Boston is 57-59 under Valentine, who hadn’t managed in MLB since 2002 with the Mets and took the job after serving as an ESPN television analyst. And dating back to the second half of last season under Terry Francona the Red Sox are 75-87 in their last 162 games.
For a whole lot more, read Passan’s full report.
So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).
Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.
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.