Any Astros fans wondering what to think of the team hiring Nationals third base coach Bo Porter as the new manager should read this interview Porter did back in July with David Laurila of Fan Graphs.
He gave a ton of very detailed, interesting responses, most of which showed Porter to have a really good grasp of the analytical side of batting orders, bunting, defensive shifts, bullpen usage, and other in-game strategies. I’d almost go so far as to call him a stat-head.
For instance, while many managers prefer a No. 2 hitter who can bunt or hit-and-run, Porter mostly wants a guy who can get on base:
At the end of the day, the game is about scoring runs and stopping the other team from scoring. In order to score runs you have to get on base. Yes, you want the top of your lineup to possess speed, so that when the hitters in the middle of the lineup drive the ball into the gaps, those guys can score from first base on a double. But at the same time, they have to be on base to score on that double. In a perfect world, your number-two guy can hit-and-run, bunt and move runners. But I want to make sure that the guys at the top of the lineup are able to get on base at a high percentage.
Add all that stuff to what is a strong reputation among players as a clubhouse guy and … well, after reading the interview I’d definitely be feeling good about the hire as an Astros fan.
The Mariners signed free agent left-hander Wade LeBlanc to a one-year deal, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reported Saturday. LeBlanc previously signed a minor league agreement with the Yankees, but later requested his release following the team’s Grapefruit League outing on Friday. The Mariners have yet to confirm the deal or disclose its terms.
This is LeBlanc’s second stint with the Mariners in two years. He was initially acquired by Seattle in the summer of 2016 after the Blue Jays traded him for cash considerations, and produced a 4.50 ERA, 1.6 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 in 50 innings before getting designated for assignment in August. The 33-year-old southpaw was last seen in the majors with the Pirates, with whom he generated another 4.50 ERA, 2,3 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 68 innings in 2017. He entered free agency after the club declined his $1.25 million option for 2018.
The signing comes at a fortuitous moment for the Mariners, who were pressed to find additional bullpen depth after right-handed reliever David Phelps tore his ulnar collateral ligament last week. As with most injuries of that kind, Phelps is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2018 season. LeBlanc made a full transition to the bullpen in 2017 and boasts the kind of reverse platoon splits (.216/.270/.389 vs. righties and .292/.333/.500 vs. lefties in 2017) that will make him an effective replacement for the right-handed Phelps.