Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times speculates that Rays’ shortstop Brad Miller could see some time at second base in 2017. The team is hurting for infield depth after trading second baseman Logan Forsythe to the Dodgers last week and reportedly favors their internal options over another free agent pickup.
While Miller has the big league experience to stick at second, the Rays also have backup options in Tim Beckham, Nick Franklin and Daniel Roberts. The club hasn’t made any significant acquisitions since they swapped Forsythe for right-hander Jose De Leon, and Topkin doesn’t see many viable free agent options left on the market.
The 27-year-old shortstop batted .243/.304/.482 with a career-best 30 home runs and 81 RBI for the Rays in 2016. After the team traded for the Giants’ Matt Duffy in August, Miller was shifted from his full-time role at shortstop over to first base — a disappointing change for the infielder, per MLB.com’s Bill Chastain:
Obviously, I’m a shortstop. I’ve been working hard and doing everything, and playing well there. Yesterday was kind of a punch to the gut, them telling me he was their shortstop now.
With Miller at second, the Rays should have an easier time filling the void at first base. The pool of available free agent candidates includes Mark Reynolds, Mike Napoli and Chris Carter, the latter of whom delivered a league-best 41 home runs with the Brewers in 2016.
As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.
The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.
Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.
Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.