Baseball’s book of unwritten rules just got a little fatter and a little more unkempt. In a battle of Colbys, Rangers starter Colby Lewis is upset that Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus laid down a bunt with his team up 2-0 with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning of Saturday’s game. Rasmus placed the ball to the third base side of the mound and reached safely, but was stranded after Dan Johnson struck out.
Lewis took the loss as the Rangers fell 4-1. He allowed two runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out five in five innings of work. He is now 6-7 with a 6.37 ERA and a 78/29 K/BB ratio in 89 innings over 17 starts.
Lewis explained why he took offense to the bunt after the game. Via MLB.com’s Chris Toman:
“I told [Rasmus] I didn’t appreciate it,” Lewis said. “You’re up by two runs with two outs and you lay down a bunt. I don’t think that’s the way the game should be played.”
When pressed further on what the problem with Rasmus’ bunt was, Lewis insinuated that the outfielder put himself before his team.
“I felt like you have a situation where there is two outs, you’re up two runs, you have gotten a hit earlier in the game off me, we are playing the shift, and he laid down a bunt basically simply for average,” Lewis said.
Lewis also explained that, because Rasmus didn’t attempt to steal on either of the first two pitches Lewis threw to Johnson, Rasmus was simply looking to pad his batting average. Following the game, in which he went 2-for-4, Rasmus is batting .223. He has yet to attempt to steal a base this season.
Lewis could have been steaming from the beating he took at the hands of the Angels on July 10. He allowed 13 runs in 2 1/3 innings in his final start before the All-Star break. One thing is for sure: his line of reasoning sure doesn’t make any sense. If Rangers pitchers don’t want to deal with bunts, then they shouldn’t be employing infield shifts. Rasmus was doing what he felt gave him the best chance to reach base and thus give his team the best chance of padding the lead.
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.