Manny Acta? Mike Hargrove? Is anyone not a potential Blue Jays manager?

36 Comments

Everyone talks about the Yankees as team whose internal deliberations are not typically leaked to the press, but the Blue Jays are right up there in the informational black hole rankings.  Know how you know this? The wild, all over the place speculation about who their new manager might me.

I mean, it’s possible that Jim Tracy, Jim Riggleman or any other guy who has been mentioned may be the new guy. Or it’s possible they won’t be. But the fact that we’ve had any number of names mentioned, but none who have acknowledged, through surrogates or otherwise, that they are truly candidates is evidence of a press that really doesn’t have a handle on who the Jays are truly targeting.

Two new names from my Twitter feed overnight:

Manny Acta would be an … interesting choice. Sure, I love his style and everything, but do you really get a job with a team that is going for it like the Jays are going for it after two very recent failed stints like Acta has had? He was forced to experience no time in bench coach/special advisor wilderness after being fired by the Nats and if he gets a job for 2013 after being canned by the Indians he’ll have done the immediately-land-on-his-feet thing for a second straight time. How good an interviewer is he?

Hargrove is a much more intriguing name. He’s been out of the game for a long time and left his last job — the Mariners in 2007 — in midseason while the team was 45-33, on a winning streak and in second place. The official explanation was that it was due to family and/or burnout issues or/something like that. It’s possible he was clashing with Ichiro Suzuki.  Either way, the very next year he started expressing a desire to get back to managing in the bigs but hasn’t had an opportunity to do so.  He spent some time managing a semi-pro team in 2008 and 2009. Then he took some time off. Since 2011 he has served as a special advisor to the Indians. But the dude does have a couple of pennants and was always well-thought-of as a manager.

That’s kind of the Davey Johnson track, isn’t it? Maybe, as some teams are looking to ape the Robin Ventura/Walt Weiss/Mike Matheny no-experience trend, the Jays are looking to go the bring-back-the-old-hand-who-left-too-soon route that the Nationals took?

Who knows? Based on the disparate reports we’ve seen, no one except the Blue Jays.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

Getty Images
4 Comments

MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.