Cody Asche has played exclusively third base since debuting for the Phillies in the middle of last season and last played another position in rookie-ball, but that may change.
Phillies top prospect Maikel Franco is also a third baseman (and occasional first baseman) and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that “we’ve talked about” moving Asche to the outfield to make room for him.
However, the GM added that “at this stage, he’s a third baseman” and Asche will go into spring training as the starting third baseman. If they can trade Ryan Howard (and Ryan Howard’s contract) then Franco could play first base.
It’s also worth noting that Asche hasn’t shown enough offensively yet to suggest he’d be a big asset as a corner outfielder, batting .247 with 15 homers and a .697 OPS through 171 games. His numbers in the minors were a lot more impressive.
Ron Gardenhire is gone as manager, but at least one of his coaches will stick around and be on new manager Paul Molitor’s staff, as the Twins announced that Tom Brunansky will return as hitting coach.
There’s probably an argument to be made for simply cleaning house completely, although going with Molitor as manager kind of ruins that whole concept and Brunansky is the one coach on Gardenhire’s staff who clearly deserved to stick around.
He’s relatively new to the job and helped the Twins score the fifth-most runs in the league despite a young, inexperienced lineup and some poor seasons from veterans. Not losing Brunansky to another team as part of the manager change is good news for the Twins.
Last week Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported that the Angels were likely to shop second baseman Howie Kendrick and now Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet Canada writes that the Blue Jays “have placed multiple calls on his availability this year.”
Kendrick hit .293 with seven homers and a .744 OPS in 157 games this season, basically matching his career totals and ranking among the league’s best all-around second basemen. However, the Angels are willing to deal him because Kendrick will be a free agent after next season and they have in-house options to replace him in Grant Green and Gordon Beckham.
In nine seasons as a big leaguer Kendrick has never hit below .275 or posted an OPS under .720. He doesn’t have much power and swings at everything, but Kendrick has plus speed, a good glove, and has consistently been an above-average hitter at an up-the-middle position.
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia played through a wrist injury for most of the season before finally shutting things down and undergoing surgery in mid-September, finishing with career-lows in batting average (.278), on-base percentage (.337), and slugging percentage (.376).
During a radio interview Pedroia told WEEI in Boston that he’s “100 percent” recovered from the surgery to repair a tendon in his left wrist, adding:
Now that it’s fixed, it’s night and day. I can already tell that. There’s a lot of IOU’s to hand out to people, so I’m pretty excited about it. I feel great. I’m back to a hundred percent. I’m doing all my lifts and everything. My rehab’s going good. I’m full strength and I’m pretty excited. It’s been a long time since I’ve been myself. It’s going to be a lot of fun next year.
Pedroia has been banged up a lot in recent years and because of it the former MVP’s performance has varied wildly, with lots of unproductive stretches. He topped an .800 OPS each season from 2007 to 2011, but during the past four seasons his OPS has fallen from .861 to .797 to .787 to .712.
Pedroia, now 31 years old, has seven seasons and $97 million remaining on his contract.
Rubber-armed Livan Hernandez showing up occasionally at Nationals Park to throw batting practice and hang out with the Nationals was a fun story, but now the 39-year-old would like to be there full time.
Hernandez, who’s currently employed as an “ambassador” by the Nationals, told Bill Ladson of MLB.com that he wants a bigger role:
I want to do something different and maybe stay there the whole year. I want to help the team the whole year. Let’s see. I think I can help next year a lot. All the players want me there. I want to be with them. We’ll wait until next year and see what happens.
There’s probably no room on Matt Williams’ coaching staff for Hernandez, at least for now, but plenty of ex-players fill special assistant or roving instructor roles for teams.
Make it happen, Mike Rizzo.