Picking on the Marlins’ coaching staff is kind of silly, since they’re in an impossible situation, but they just hired Frank Menechino as the new hitting coach and Joe Frisaso of MLB.com has an article about how manager Mike Redmond is going to focus on “doing the little things”:
The MLB playoffs also are demonstrating the significance of executing the basics. “You talk about winning baseball,” Redmond said. “You talk about playoff teams. You talk about what do these guys do that the other teams don’t? It is the little things.
“It is unselfish baseball. It’s getting the guy over from second with less than two outs. It’s driving the run in with less than two outs and the infield back. It could be a ground ball to short or a ground ball to first, whatever it takes to get that run in.” …
“I think back to winning baseball, and what’s winning baseball?” Redmond said. “That’s doing the little things like bunting, which we were not good at, and we will get better at. Then offensively, then doing the unselfish things that will help us win ball games.”
Miami ranked dead last among all teams in scoring at 3.17 runs per game while no other team averaged fewer than 3.69. They also ranked dead last in homers, doubles, and OPS. They, did, however rank among the top 10 in sacrifice bunts. Every manager wants his team to “do the little things” better every season–and come March there will be endless articles about that exact topic–but ultimately the Marlins stunk offensively because they didn’t do the big things.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.
The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.
St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.
The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.
Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?
Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.