The Nationals invited some controversy by hiring Matt Williams as their new manager on Friday. He hasn’t gotten all that much attention for it, but Williams, who hit 378 homers over 17 big-league seasons with the Giants, Indians and Diamondbacks, was, for at least a brief time, a steroids user.
Williams was outed by the San Francisco Chronicle in Nov. 2007 as having bought $11,600 worth of steroids, human Growth Hormone and making agents from the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Clinic in 2002, when he was playing for Arizona. He was later included in the Mitchell Report.
Williams admitted to the purchase, saying that he was advised to try hGH to recover from an ankle injury and that he stopped using it because he didn’t like the effects. He didn’t discuss the other substances he bought.
Which was good enough in 2007, since no one much cared. Williams had retired four years previously and was working as a broadcaster then.
Now that Williams is the leader of a major league club, it’d be for the best if he went into greater detail. Unless he happened to just flush everything else down the toilet, Williams wasn’t merely using hGH to try to aid his healing. All we really know is that 2002 was the only time he was caught cheating. This is a guy who appeared to be making a run at Roger Maris’s single-season home run record with the Giants in 1994 when the strike happened (he had 43 homers in 112 games). Was he enhanced then as well?
Frankly, I suspect that those late-90s/early-aughts Diamondbacks clubhouses were about as steroid-riddled as any in the game’s history. I’m not suggesting Williams starts naming names, but as a franchise leader, he should at least come clean about his own past.
So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).
Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.