Anthony Rizzo has been one of the most disappointing aspects of the Cubs’ season, as the 23-year-old first baseman has seen his OPS drop 60 points following a very promising first season in Chicago last year.
He’s been particularly bad since June 1, hitting just .214 with 12 homers and a .692 OPS in 100 games. However, if you ignore Rizzo’s ugly batting average his 22 homers, 38 doubles, and 74 walks are strong totals for a 23-year-old in his first full season and Cubs manager Dale Sveum talked to Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com about how he feels Rizzo has gotten too much criticism:
You analyze a year and it’s not as bad as everybody makes it out to be. … It’s his first time ever playing every single day in the big leagues. It’s his first time with the pressure of hitting third every single day. The learning process of that is out of the way.
Sveum is right in that Rizzo’s overall production has been right around average among NL hitters, which is far from disastrous even at an offense-driven position like first base. Of course, Rizzo’s lack of development (and a similar story with Starlin Castro) is part of why there’s speculation that the Cubs might fire Sveum.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.