Since earning a promotion to the big leagues in June 2011, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas has compiled a meager .606 OPS against left-handed pitching. In 2013, his third season in the Majors, he finished with a .546 OPS against southpaws. So when the Royals acquired infielder Danny Valencia — author of a career .879 OPS against lefties — from the Orioles in exchange for outfielder David Lough several weeks ago, there were some that thought Moustakas and Valencia would work well as platoon partners.
As Pete Grathoff of the Kansas City Star writes, the Royals still view Moustakas as a full-time starter at third base.
“Mike Moustakas is our everyday third baseman,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “It just gives us more depth, and our job as a baseball operations staff is that Ned (Yost) and the coaching staff have as much depth as possible and are in a position to match up as they see fit on any given night.”
Moustakas is just 25 years old and isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2017 season, so the Royals certainly have some incentive to let Moustakas continue to learn and grow as a player. At the same time, they are also trying to compete in 2014 to end a 28-year playoff drought, currently the longest drought among all 30 Major League teams. They finished at 86-76 last season, their first season above .500 since 2003, but still finished in third place, seven games out of first. Squeezing out small advantages where possible could mean the difference between playing meaningful baseball in October or scheduling a golf outing.
Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times has an outstanding profile of former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, who is currently in jail for allegedly murdering three men nearly two years ago.
Fenno describes Martin’s erratic personality as he became a highly-touted baseball prospect who then descends into drug use. Friends described Martin has having completely changed into an unrecognizable person. Martin had repeated conflicts with friends and family such that police reports became common and he was placed in a psychiatric facility. Sadly, the facility only held him for less than 48 hours. He would allegedly murder three people upon returning home: his father, his brother-in-law, and a home security system contractor. Martin fled from police, who eventually caught up to him and subdued him with the help of a police dog.
Fenno’s profile is really worth a read, so click here to check it out.
Martin, 23, was selected by the Rays in the first round (38th overall) of the 2011 draft. He spent three years in the Rays’ system, reaching as high as Single-A Bowling Green.
On Sunday, Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was ejected for throwing at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado‘s head. It was revenge for a slide of Machado’s which ended up injuring Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Barnes was suspended four games.
Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said that if he were in Barnes’ shoes, he would have also thrown at Machado, although not necessarily at his head. Via ESPN’s Scott Lauber:
If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him. The only thing I would’ve done differently is probably bring the ball a little bit lower.
Martinez added that Machado “did not intend to hurt Pedroia. And I know that because I know Machado.” And he doesn’t think Barnes meant to throw at Machado’s head.
Martinez, of course, was certainly a pitcher who wasn’t afraid to pitch inside to batters and even hit a few of them when he felt he or his teammates had been wronged. This is an unfortunate part of baseball’s culture and the fact that it continues means that it will eventually result in someone being seriously hurt. It’s disappointing that Martinez isn’t willing to be a better role model now that his playing days are over. Martinez could have set an example for today’s pitchers by saying what Barnes did crossed a line. Getting a Hall of Famer’s seal of approval will only embolden players now when they feel they must defend their teammates’ honor.
The “tradition” of beaning batters to defend one’s teammates is anachronistic in today’s game, especially when Major League Baseball has made strides in so many other ways recently to protect players’ safety.