Ask yourself: do you really believe that Joe Girardi is the type of guy who would base an in-game decision on some fluffy nothing of a story in the New York Post before he’d base it on baseball considerations? If the answer is no, you’re not Bob Klapsich.
Klapisch’s column today tells the story of last night’s game and focuses, like so many others have focused today, on Girardi’s decision to not use A-Rod as a pinch hitter in the ninth. Klapisch discounts any baseball rationale and says the real reason is tabloid silliness. He references the Post story and says:
A-Rod and GM Brian Cashman refused to discuss the story, but the organization was deeply embarrassed by it, especially since the Yankees were in the midst of getting swept in the first two games at home … So while Girardi insisted his decision to bench A-Rod was strictly a baseball-related move, his refusal to use the slugger in the ninth inning was unquestionably a smack-down for his behavior in New York.
Sorry, even if you claim it was unquestionably a smack-down, I’m gonna question it. I’m gonna question it because Girardi’s own explanation was that to pinch hit A-Rod would cause Leyland to bring in a righty, and there is nothing — not an anonymous quote or even a “sources say” — suggesting otherwise. I’m also going to question it because Girardi has never, as far as I can recall, gotten sucked into the New York tabloid drama, so why would he start now?
I’m sure Girardi wasn’t pleased to have a tabloid story floating around like that. I don’t doubt Klapisch’s report that the team as a whole was embarrassed. But to believe Klapisch’s hypothesis, you’d have to believe that Girardi legitimately felt that punishing A-Rod for it was more important than putting his team in the best position to win last night. And there is nothing here suggesting such an astounding and unprecedented thing.
What is here is Girardi’s strategic analysis of the platoon problem and, most likely, his gut feeling that Rodriguez has absolutely no game at all right now. While one may reasonably disagree that Girardi’s call was the right one — I would have brought in Swisher, who would’ve eliminated platoon splits from the equation — that’s neither here nor there. Girardi said why he did what he did. To believe that there was more to it than that takes a bit more than someone’s assertion that it was “unquestionably so.”
Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia was permanently suspended on Friday after testing positive for a third time for a performance-enhancing drug. The right-hander is maintaining his innocence, as ESPN’s Adam Rubin notes in quoting Dominican sports journalist Hector Gomez. Mejia said, “It is not like they say. I am sure that I did not use anything.”
Mejia has the opportunity to petition commissioner Rob Manfred in one year for reinstatement to Major League Baseball. However, he must sit out at least two years before becoming eligible to pitch in the majors again, which would mean Mejia would be 28 years old.
Over parts of five seasons, Mejia has a career 3.68 ERA with 162 strikeouts and 76 walks over 183 1/3 innings. He was once a top prospect in the Mets’ minor league system and a top-100 overall prospect heading into the 2010 and ’11 seasons.
Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is at least three years away from free agency, but people are already contemplating just how large a contract the phenom will be able to negotiate, especially after taking home the National League Most Valuable Player Award for his performance this past season.
When the likes of David Price and Zack Greinke are signing for over $200 million at the age of 30 or older, it stands to reason that Harper could draw more as a 26-year-old if he can maintain MVP-esque levels of production over the next several seasons. $400 million might not be enough for Harper, though, as MLB.com’s Jamal Collier reports. He said, “Don’t sell me short,” which is a fantastic response.
During the 2015 season, Harper led the majors with a .460 on-base percentage and a .649 slugging percentage while leading the National League with 42 home runs and 118 runs scored. He also knocked in 99 runs for good measure. Harper and Ted Williams are the only hitters in baseball history to put up an adjusted OPS of 195 or better (100 is average) at the age of 22 or younger.
Per Eric Stephen of SB Nation’s True Blue LA, the Dodgers announced that pitching prospect Frankie Montas will be out two to four months after undergoing rib resection surgery to remove his right first rib.
The Dodgers acquired Montas from the White Sox in a three-team trade in December 2015 that also involved the Reds. The 22-year-old made his big league debut with the Pale Hose last season, allowing eight runs on 14 hits and nine walks with 20 strikeouts in 15 innings across two starts. Montas had spent the majority of his season at Double-A Birmingham, where he posted a 2.97 ERA with 108 strikeouts and 48 walks in 112 innings.
MLB.com rated Montas as the 95th-best prospect in baseball, slipping a few spots from last year’s pre-season ranking of 91.
The Brewers’ rebuild continues, as the club announced on Twitter the trade of outfielder Khris Davis to the Athletics in exchange for catcher Jacob Nottingham and pitcher Bubba Derby. MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports that the A’s have designated pitcher Sean Nolin for assignment to create room on the 40-man roster for Davis.
Davis, 28, was the Brewers’ most valuable remaining trade chip. He blasted 27 home runs while hitting .247/.323/.505 in 440 plate appearances this past season in Milwaukee. Adding to his value, Davis won’t become eligible for arbitration until after the 2016 season and can’t become a free agent until after the 2019 season. In Oakland, Davis will give the Athletics more reliability as Coco Crisp was injured for most of last season and is now 36 years old. Though he doesn’t have much of a career platoon split, Davis split time in left field with the left-handed-hitting Gerardo Parra last season. It’s unclear if the A’s will utilize him in a platoon as well.
With Davis out of the picture, Domingo Santana is a leading candidate to start in left field for the Brewers, GM David Stearns said, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Nottingham, 20, started the 2015 season in the Astros’ system but went to the Athletics in the Scott Kazmir deal. He hit an aggregate .316/.372/.505 at Single-A, showing plenty of promise early in his professional career. With catcher Jonathan Lucroy on his way out of Milwaukee, the Brewers are hoping Nottingham can be their next permanent backstop.
Derby, 21, made his professional debut last season after the Athletics drafted him in the sixth round. Across 37 1/3 innings, he yielded seven runs (five earned) on 24 hits and 10 walks with 47 strikeouts. He’s obviously a few years away from the majors, but the Brewers are looking for high upside.