Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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The Rays fire their hitting coach

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The Tampa Bay Rays just announced that they have fired hitting coach Derek Shelton. They have promoted minor league hitting coordinator Chad Mottola to take the job. No word if that’s an interim promotion or if the job is Mottola’s for good.

Shelton was in his seventh season as Rays hitting coach. The Rays enter today’s action ranked last in the AL in batting average (.243) and 12th in runs scored. They were 14th in runs scored last year, 15th in 2014, 13th in 2013 and 12th in 2012, though it was only a 14-team league that year and in years prior.

Hitting coaches likely have less impact on their charges than any other kind of coach — talent is what dictates offense — but when your charges are at or near the bottom in runs scored every year, eventually you’re gonna take the fall.

Roberto Clemente Award nominees announced

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The Roberto Clemente Award goes to the Major Leaguer who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Andrew McCutchen won the award last year. This year’s nominees were just announced:

Arizona Diamondbacks – Paul Goldschmidt (#VoteGoldy)
Atlanta Braves – Jim Johnson (#VoteJJ)
Baltimore Orioles – Adam Jones (#VoteAdam)
Boston Red Sox – Brock Holt (#VoteBrock)
Chicago Cubs – Anthony Rizzo (#VoteRizzo)
Chicago White Sox – Jose Abreu (#VoteAbreu)
Cincinnati Reds – Michael Lorenzen (#VoteLorenzen)
Cleveland Indians – Carlos Carrasco (#VoteCookie)
Colorado Rockies – Carlos González (#VoteCarGo)
Detroit Tigers – Miguel Cabrera (#VoteMiggy)
Houston Astros – Lance McCullers (#VoteMcCullers)
Kansas City Royals – Eric Hosmer (#VoteHosmer)
Los Angeles Angels – Andrew Heaney (#VoteHeaney)
Los Angeles Dodgers – Adrian González (#VoteAdrian)
Miami Marlins – Giancarlo Stanton (#VoteStanton)
Milwaukee Brewers – Ryan Braun (#VoteBraun)
Minnesota Twins – Joe Mauer (#VoteMauer)
New York Mets – Curtis Granderson (#VoteGrandy)
New York Yankees – Brett Gardner (#VoteGardy)
Oakland Athletics – Sean Doolittle (#VoteDoolittle)
Philadelphia Phillies – Ryan Howard (#VoteHoward)
Pittsburgh Pirates – Jared Hughes (#VoteHughes)
St. Louis Cardinals – Adam Wainwright (#VoteWainwright)
San Diego Padres – Tyson Ross (#VoteRoss)
San Francisco Giants – Jake Peavy (#VotePeavy)
Seattle Mariners – Robinson Canó (#VoteCano)
Tampa Bay Rays – Chris Archer (#VoteArcher)
Texas Rangers – Cole Hamels (#VoteHamels)
Toronto Blue Jays – Kevin Pillar (#VotePillar)
Washington Nationals – Ryan Zimmerman (#VoteZim)

The hashtags listed are for the fan vote component to this award, in which you go to the Clemente Award website and vote for one of the nominees and, presumably, tweet about them and stuff at some point. The winner of the fan vote gets a one vote head start, with that vote added in to votes cast by Commissioner Rob Manfred, Roberto Clemente’s widow, Vera Clemente, and a number of former players and some media people.

The Twins are considering Alex Anthopoulos for president of baseball operations

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Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reports that Alex Anthopoulos is a “confirmed candidate” to take over as the Twins’ president of baseball operations. If hired, he would take over following the Twins’ recent front office house cleaning that resulted in Terry Ryan being fired back in July.

Anthopoulos served as senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager with the Blue Jays from 2010-2015. He was a bold and active executive, making big trades — Noah Syndergaard for R.A. Dickey; Brett Lawrie for Josh Donaldson; the David Price trade with Detroit to name just a few — and not being afraid to spend money. He stepped down from the Jays job after Toronto hired Mark Shapiro to be team president and CEO. The thinking was that the Jays owners wanted to cut costs and Shapiro began his tenure by, allegedly, berating Anthopoulos about trading away prospects for higher-priced veterans.

Anthopoulos is working for the Dodgers front office under the title of vice president of baseball operations. It’s clearly one of those holding pattern jobs, however, in which he’s keeping his hand in while he waits for a good opportunity. Building a losing team from the ground up following a front office purge is a pretty good opportunity. Especially considering that the Twins are not wholly bereft of young talent.