Angel Pagan’s season-ending back injury forced the Giants to move left fielder Gregor Blanco to center field and now manager Bruce Bochy has decided on career-long first baseman Travis Ishikawa as his left fielder for the Wild Card game.
Ishikawa is 31 years old and has started a grand total of three career games in the outfield, so things could get ugly.
Making the decision especially questionable is that Ishikawa is hardly an offensive force, hitting .252 with three homers and a .703 OPS in 62 games this season and .259 with a .719 OPS for his career.
San Francisco’s options just aren’t very appealing, especially with Michael Morse unlikely to be on the roster due to an oblique injury.
Clayton Kershaw will start Game 1 of the NLDS for the Dodgers and according to Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles if the series goes to a Game 4 “it appears quite likely” he’d start on three days’ rest.
Of course, manager Don Mattingly wouldn’t confirm that, saying:
We wouldn’t even think about it until we see what would happen in Game 1 or what kind of situation we’ll be in, so that’s not even a question that we even consider.
However, as Saxon notes Kershaw started on three days’ rest last postseason and performed well against the Braves. And that would also potentially set up Zack Greinke to pitch Game 5, meaning the Dodgers could use Kershaw and Greinke for four of the five games against the Cardinals.
Javier Baez hit just .169 with 95 strikeouts in 52 games as a 21-year-old rookie, but the Cubs are committed to him as their Opening Day second baseman next season.
Team president Theo Epstein revealed that to Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com, adding the following:
Javy is very likely to be given the opportunity to show he can make those adjustments at the big-league level. We believe he will. He’s got some of the best raw ingredients to work with in all of Major League Baseball. But his approach and some mechanical things need to be tweaked. He’s well aware of that (and) he’s excited to make those changes without losing his identity as an aggressive, feisty hitter in the box.
Baez did smack nine homers in 52 games, but a 95/15 K/BB ratio shows a totally overmatched hitter and he batted just .141 with two homers in his final 33 games. Baez was also good but not amazing at Triple-A, hitting .260 with 23 homers and an .833 OPS in 104 games, so sending him back there for a little additional seasoning doesn’t seem crazy.
However, the Cubs seem committed to letting their high-upside young talent sink or swim in the majors next season and Baez is a huge part of that process.
Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon missed the regular season final with a hip injury, but after going through a full workout today he’s been cleared to rejoin the lineup for Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cardinals.
Gordon had a breakout year this season, holding his own at the plate by hitting .289 with a .704 OPS and swiping a league-leading 64 bases. He also led the league with 12 triples, scored 92 runs to rank eighth in the NL, and finished 10th among all MLB second baseman in Wins Above Replacement.
Manny Ramirez received rave reviews for his work as a player/coach for the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate this season, so much so that now some people are wondering if the Cubs might hire him to be their big-league assistant hitting coach.
Assistant hitting coach Mike Brumley is the only member of manager Rick Renteria’s staff not being asked back for 2015 and here’s what team president Theo Epstein told Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com about the prospect of Ramirez taking the gig:
I think I’ll wait to answer that. I want to see whether he wants to continue playing or not before I answer that question. … Manny has not decided to retire as of yet. We have a really nice relationship with Manny. He did an outstanding job for the organization this year, and we’re going to continue to stay in touch, depending on what he wants to do with his career.
Ramirez worked with many of the Cubs’ stud hitting prospects at Triple-A and those guys (Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler) will be a big part of the MLB team next season and beyond, so it’s not as crazy as it may seem.