According to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel spontaneously decided to address his team’s leadoff situation on Monday afternoon.
“A month ago when we’re talking about getting [Michael] Bourn for a leadoff hitter, [Jimmy] Rollins got more production,” Manuel said. “Bourn might have a little higher average, but Rollins has more production. So which one would you rather have in your leadoff hole?”
Well, let’s see. Bourn is hitting .276/.348/.394 with 40 steals in 52 attempts this season. Rollins is hitting .250/.316/.427 with 30 steals in 35 attempts.
Personally, I think I’d choose Bourn despite the extra outs on the basepaths. But Manuel is right; Rollins has been about as effective in the leadoff spot this year. Largely because he has 23 homers to Bourn’s nine. But it also helps that he’s topped his previous career high with 62 walks.
Also, for what it’s worth, Rollins has scored 102 of the Phillies’ 679 runs this year. Bourn has scored 96 of the Braves’ 694 runs.
But the real question here is why does it need to be either/or? The Phillies might not be better off with Bourn instead of Rollins, but they’d certainly be better off with Bourn and Rollins. Rollins is still a great basestealer, but the rest of his line screams No. 5 or No. 6 hitter. He could still be pretty valuable batting behind Ryan Howard in the Phillies’ order.
I’ve already gone on record as saying Bourn shouldn’t be the Phillies’ top target in free agency this winter. But already having a leadoff man shouldn’t be a justification for not pursuing him.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.