Alex Gordon

Alex Gordon isn’t leading off any longer (and that’s a shame)

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The Kansas City’s Star’s Bob Dutton tweeted the following this afternoon:

Royals manager Ned Yost: Moving Alex Gordon from first to third in order is likely to be long-term move. Says that’s where Gordon fits.

Yost clarifies remarks on future lineups: “Gordon will probably move down to four or five.” Says [Eric] Hosmer still projects as long-term No. 3.

Is that really the answer? Gordon has been one of the game’s best leadoff hitters the last two years, hitting .305/.383/.532 in 370 at-bats there in 2011 and .307/.379/.466 in 335 at-bats these this year.

Yost will probably argue that having Gordon hit leadoff is wasting his power, and obviously, it’s true that Gordon doesn’t get all that many RBI opportunities batting first for the Royals.

But the leadoff spot is just too important to be used on the likes of Chris Getz. Gordon sets up the rest of the lineup, and sure, it’s a pretty lousy lineup, but it’d be a whole lot lousier without him. How about this:

Royals No. 2 hitters this year: .261/.303/.386, 70 RBI in 490 AB
Royals No. 7 hitters this year: .263/.306/.390, 44 RBI in 433 AB

Those two spots in the order have been equally as productive, yet the No. 2 hitters have 40 percent more RBI per at-bat largely because they’re hitting behind Gordon. Only the Royals’ cleanup hitters (Billy Butler about half of the time) have more RBI than their No. 2 hitters and then only by three, despite the fact that the No. 2 hitters haven’t been any good at all.

Now hitting Gordon third or fourth in such a mediocre Royals lineup isn’t really going to make much of a difference. But if Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Wil Myers come along like the team hopes they do, then the leadoff spot is exactly where I’d want Gordon going forward.

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.

Josh Hamilton leaves camp with a tweaked knee

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers poses during a spring training photo shoot on February 28, 2016 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.

As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.

You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.