Lineups for Game 5 in Oakland …
CF Austin Jackson
RF Torii Hunter
3B Miguel Cabrera
1B Prince Fielder
DH Victor Martinez
SS Jhonny Peralta
C Alex Avila
2B Omar Infante
LF Don Kelly
SP Justin Verlander
Tigers manager Jim Leyland has made a big change, benching slick-fielding rookie shortstop Jose Iglesias and shifting Jhonny Peralta back to shortstop after playing him out of position in left field with some ugly results. Don Kelly steps into the lineup for Iglesias, which is the latest in a long line of Leyland putting an awful lot of faith in the 34-year-old career .229 hitter. Leyland loves Kelly and has essentially chosen him over Iglesias while upgrading the outfield defense and downgrading the infield defense.
CF Coco Crisp
3B Josh Donaldson
SS Jed Lowrie
LF Yoenis Cespedes
DH Seth Smith
1B Brandon Moss
2B Alberto Callaspo
RF Josh Reddick
C Stephen Vogt
SP Sonny Gray
A’s manager Bob Melvin has also made some changes, led by benching Eric Sogard and starting Alberto Callaspo at second base. Melvin had previous said he wanted Sogard’s glove in the game and valued the impact Callaspo’s bat could make off the bench as a pinch-hitter, but apparently that changed. Yoenis Cespedes also moves into the cleanup spot, with Brandon Moss sliding down in the lineup.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.