Angels manager Mike Scioscia gave Ernesto Frieri a vote of confidence over the weekend, but he made it clear today that he’s looking at other options to close games.
After Albert Pujols delivered a two-run double in the top of the 10th inning against the Indians this afternoon, most expected that Frieri would come out for the bottom half of the inning, especially since Joe Smith already pitched the ninth inning. However, Scioscia threw everyone for a loop by turning to rookie Cam Bedrosian. The decision quickly backfired, as Bedrosian walked two and gave up a double before Frieri was brought in to put out the fire. Frieri got David Murphy to fly out for the second out of the inning, but he then gave up a walk-off grand slam to Nick Swisher. Disaster complete.
After the game, Scioscia told Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com that he has no set closer and wanted to give Bedrosian an opportunity against a team who had never seen him before.
“I don’t think it’s any different from what we talked about,” Scioscia said when asked if Frieri is his closer. “What’s different from matching up like we talked about?”
It was a questionable decision for many reasons, most notably that Bedrosian has been far from lights out since coming up to the majors. And if Scioscia didn’t have faith in Frieri to start the inning, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher why he turned to him once Bedrosian got into trouble. Talk about your mixed messages. There’s no excuse for Frieri giving up the grand slam, as he still has to execute, but the margin for error was razor thin and Scioscia essentially set him up to fail. The Angels own the fifth-best record in the American League right now, but the back-end of their bullpen is a mess.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.