Author: Craig Calcaterra

Manny Acta

Manny Acta to be the Mariners third base coach

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Scott Servais is filling out his coaching staff in Seattle: Manny Acta is going to be the M’s third base coach.

It’s not official, but who makes up stuff about third base coach jobs? I mean, that’d be crazy. Like, I dunno, frantically churning incorrect rumors about untested Korean ballplayers or something.

Acta was last seen in the bigs managing the Indians. Before that he managed the Nats. He didn’t have much success at either stop, but he was always well-liked. His managerial experience could come in handy to Servais, who has none.


Griffey, Edmonds, Hoffman, Wagner top newcomers on 2016 Hall of Fame ballot

Ken Griffey

The Baseball Hall of Fame has just released the ballot for the 2016 induction class. The top newcomers on the list are Ken Griffey, Jr., Jim Edmonds, Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner.

Joining those three for their first — and in most of their cases their last — time on the ballot are Garret Anderson, Brad Ausmus, Luis Castillo, David Eckstein, Troy Glaus, Mark Grudzielanek, Mike Hampton, Jason Kendall, Mike Lowell, Mike Sweeney and Randy Winn.

Holdovers from last year’s ballot, with last year’s vote totals in parenthesis: Mike Piazza (69.9%); Jeff Bagwell (55.7%); Tim Raines (55.0%); Curt Schilling (39.2%); Roger Clemens (37.5%) Barry Bonds (36.8%); Lee Smith (30.2%) Edgar Martinez (27.0%); Alan Trammell (25.1%) Mike Mussina (24.6%); Jeff Kent (14.0%) Fred McGriff (12.9%); Larry Walker (11.8%); Gary Sheffield (11.75%); Mark McGwire (10.0%); Sammy Sosa (6.6%); and Nomar Garciaparra (5.5%).

This will be Trammell’s 15th and final year on the ballot, as he had been on the ballot for more than ten years when recent reductions were made to eligibility requirements. It will be McGwire’s 10th and final year on the ballot.

As we’ve discussed many times over the past few years, the ballot is overloaded with Hall of Fame-worthy candidates. Griffey is certain to be elected in his first year of eligibility. Hoffman will likely receive a hefty vote total and could possibly get in as well. It seems likely that Mike Piazza’s slow creep to 75% will finally be achieved this year as well. Beyond those possible inductees, Bagwell, Raines, Schilling, Martinez and Mussina all have far stronger credentials than many current Hall of Famers.

Trammell, Jeff Kent, Fred McGriff and Larry Walker have far, far stronger cases than their meager support from voters would suggest. McGwire, Bonds, Clemens and Sosa would have all been in years ago but for the hysteria surrounding performance enhancing drugs and some voters’ strict adherence to their particular interpretation of the ballot’s so-called “character clause.” Piazza and Bagwell likely would’ve been in already if it weren’t for voters who assume they PEDs despite there being no public evidence against them.

The voting results will be announced, as always, in early January. Inductions will take place in Cooperstown next July.

Jose Bautista: “I flipped my bat. I’m human. The emotion got to me. It’s in my DNA.”

Jose Bautista Blue Jays

Jose Bautista‘s big home run in Game 5 of the ALDS was a pretty big deal, but his bat flip and stare immediately afterward made it one of the most memorable shots in recent postseason history.

In the wake of that famous flip the Play The Game The Right Way Brigade responded in predictable ways, criticizing Bautista as a showboat with a bad attitude and dragging us, once again, into a discussion of the unwritten rules and on-field decorum. Today Bautista explains himself. Not that he has to and not that his detractors deserve some sort of explanation, but he explains himself nonetheless over at The Players’ Tribune.

After trying to put us in his shoes — which we can never be, by the way, because we’re not elite sluggers under immense pressure in game-changing situations, thereby making our criticism of him distinctly uninformed — he talks about the euphoria and spontaneity of it saying, “[i]t wasn’t out of contempt for the pitcher. It wasn’t because I don’t respect the unwritten rules of the game. I was caught up in the emotion of the moment.”

He also reminds us that baseball isn’t war and isn’t life and death. It’s actually, you know, fun:

“It’s all part of the show. And you’re kidding yourself if you think baseball isn’t a show. It’s a spectacle. It’s entertainment.”

Finally, he talks about the internationalization of the game and the style of play he and his fellow Latino ballplayers have played since they were kids and observes that criticism of that comes from a not-so-pretty place:

“I flipped my bat. I’m human. The emotion got to me. It’s in my DNA. If you think that makes me a jerk, that’s fine. But let’s call it what it is. Let’s not have these loaded conversations about ‘character’ and the integrity of the game every time certain players show emotion in a big moment. That kind of thinking is not just old school. It’s just ignorant.”

He’s right that it’s loaded. And his references to no one losing their minds over some historical celebratory moments suggests that he believes, as we’ve discussed here many times, that there is a distinct racial and cultural element to the sort of criticism he and other Latino players have received, not unlike the sort of treatment minorities receive in the culture at large.

A good read from Bautista. Here’s hoping we will not need the next player who does something amazing like he did to explain himself to the world.

The Tigers are going to meet with Joakim Soria’s agent

Joakim Soria

Tony Paul of the Detroit News reports that the Tigers are expected to meet with the representatives for free agent Joakim Soria at this week’s GM Meetings.

Soria was a Tiger for 2014 and the first half of 2015 before being dealt to the Pirates. Overall last season he posted a 2.53 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 64/19 K/BB ratio in 67.2 innings He was a closer for the Tigers and set up for Pittsburgh, so going back to Detroit would be better for him, personally speaking, one presumes.

The Tigers have also been rumored to be looking at Darren O'Day, but Paul says . . .

Which seems like a pretty odd stance for a team in desperate need of bullpen help over the past several years to take, but whatever works, I guess.

UPDATE: The report that the Pirates won the bidding for Byung-ho Park was wrong

Byung-ho Park

UPDATE: Never mind. Multiple sources, including Park’s agent now saying that the Pirates rumor is baloney. We now return you to our regularly scheduled offseason.

UPDATE: Not so fast. Buster Olney is hearing that the Pirates did not win the bidding. So stand down, stay tuned or whatever it is you do with yourself when you’re waiting for mildly interesting trade rumors to resolve themselves.

8:09 AMC.J. Nitkowski of Fox is hearing that the Pittsburgh Pirates have won the bidding for the right to negotiate with Korean slugger Byung-ho Park.

We’re still waiting for some confirmation from a team or league official, but on Friday it was reported that the Nexen Heroes accepted a $12.85MM bid following their posting of Park. Since then there have been multiple reports of which teams did not win the bidding, but no report, until now, of who had. The Pirates were not one of those clubs said to be out of the running. Also unknown was the status of bids submitted by the Phillies, Brewers, Reds, Cubs, White Sox, Twins and Astros.

If the Pirates did win the bidding and do manage to come to terms with Park they will have an intriguing addition to their club. Park, 29, has hit 50-plus home runs with a 120-plus RBI and an average above .300 in each of his last two seasons. While most suspect that his numbers will come down dramatically upon facing much tougher competition in the less hitter-friendly environment of Major League Baseball, it’s worth remembering that Pirates’ infielder Jung Ho Kang did not experience anything near the falloff he was expected to suffer and, indeed, showed himself to be a pretty fantastic major leaguer. Which, of course, is also likely to make Park more expensive for the Pirates than Kang, who posted for $5 million and sighed a four-year, $11 million deal, was.

Regardless, the Pirates are looking for an upgrade at first base as they are likely to either trade or non-tender Pedro Alvarez. Worth noting that they have a great hitting prospect in Josh Bell at Triple-A right now, but he is a converted outfielder playing first base and he still doesn’t really have a handle on first base, it seems. It’s possible that the Pirates, who are obviously poised to contend in 2016, don’t want to wait for young Mr. Bell to finish developing before plugging the first base hole. It’s also possible that Bell is really a DH and the Pirates will try to deal him for pitching or something.

Anyway, the Pirates struck gold in Korea last winter. If this report holds up, it looks like they’re trying to do so once again.