Kyle Blanks hasn’t gotten much playing time since being called up from Triple-A by the Padres last week and now Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com reports that the A’s “have shown interest in trading for” the 27-year-old outfielder/first baseman.
Blanks was once a top prospect, but injuries have repeatedly derailed his career and now he’s a lifetime .228 hitter in 806 plate appearances. He does, however, have 28 homers and 71 walks in that action for a .712 OPS that’s pretty decent for someone calling Petco Park home, and if given a chance in a part-time role the right-handed hitting Blanks could certainly knock around left-handed pitching. And no one loves platooning more than the A’s.
Blanks is 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds, and as a minor leaguer he put up some huge numbers while ranking among Baseball America‘s top 100 prospects. In 141 total games at Triple-A he’s hit .295 with 33 homers and a .962 OPS.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉