Joe Posnanski asks that questions and names some possible successors to Derek Jeter’s throne. I won’t tell you who his first choice is — you have to read it — but many of his candidates seem like good ones. My choice is on that list too, but I’m not gonna tell you right now. I may write separately about it later.
I will say, though, I’m not keen on Mike Trout for that title for the same reason Joe isn’t. He’s not exactly charismatic, even if he is pretty darn affable and, so far anyway, a safe media bet. He’s a Jersey ballplayer in the best sense of those words. That makes him accessible and relatable. But he doesn’t have all that much about him one could call enigmatic, mysterious or even somewhat intriguing.
Which I think is important. Separate and apart from playing for the Yankees and winning championships, the key for Jeter has been that you can project just about anything you want to on him in a way that lets you use him as some sort of avatar with which you explore the world of baseball. He’s a leader, even though we haven’t heard many stories about specific things he’s said or done to rally the troops. He’s an anti-PED ideal, even though he’s hardly said anything on the topic (and what he has said has been fairly sympathetic to PED users). He’s an example for all the kids out there although we know next to nothing about his personal life.
That’s not a criticism of Jeter. Indeed, most of it is pretty damned admirable. But I do think there is some need for the Face of Baseball to allow fans, reporters and everyone else to sort of read what they want into the guy in many respects while still being his own person. Tough trick. One that requires no small amount of guile, I imagine. Not every ballplayer fits that description.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.