Author: D.J. Short

Twins Rays Spring Baseball

Nick Franklin suffers oblique strain, Opening Day in doubt


Nick Franklin was expected to have at least a share of the starting second base job for the Rays to begin the season, but that’s in jeopardy now that he has suffered a strained left oblique.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times notes that Franklin tweaked his oblique on his last swing of batting practice this morning. Rays manager Kevin Cash said that they are “not too optimistic” that he’ll be ready for Opening Day, which makes sense given that these type of injuries can sideline players for a few weeks.

The Rays have already named Asdrubal Cabrera as their starting shortstop, so assuming Franklin begins the season on the disabled list, Logan Forsythe figures to get most of the playing time at second base. Alexi Casilla, Tim Beckham, and Jake Elmore could also be in the mix.

Brandon Phillips doesn’t value on-base percentage, Joey Votto does. Does this matter?

Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips

Interesting piece from Bob Nightengale of USA Today about Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto, who don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on the importance of on-base percentage. While Votto has taken criticism for valuing his on-base skills, he continues to defend his approach at the plate. Meanwhile, Phillips is doing the same thing, except from the opposite end of the spectrum. Check it out:

“I don’t do that MLB Network on-base percentage (stuff),” Phillips told USA TODAY Sports. “I think that’s messing up baseball. I think people now are just worried about getting paid, and worrying about on-base percentage, instead of just winning the game.

“That’s the new thing now. I feel like all of these stats and all of these geeks upstairs, they’re messing up baseball, they’re just changing the game. It’s all about on-base percentage. If you don’t get on base, then you suck. That’s basically what they’re saying. People don’t care about RBI or scoring runs, it’s all about getting on base.

“Why we changing the game after all of this time? If we all just took our walks, nobody would be scoring runs. Nobody would be driving anybody in or getting anybody over. How you going to play the game like that. People don’t look at doing the things the right way, and doing things to help your team win.

“I remember back in the day you hit .230, you suck. Nowadays, you hit .230, with a .400 on-base percentage, you’re one of the best players in the game. That’s amazing. I’ve never seen (stuff) like that. Times have changed. It’s totally different now.

Does this sound a little crazy? Of course. I got a little chuckle out of the line about MLB Network inventing on-base percentage. That was the first I’ve heard of it. Anyway, we don’t need to point out the obvious about on-base percentage and what it means for run production. Players don’t just reach first base on a walk and disappear into oblivion. If Phillips drives in 100 runs this season, Votto will be a big reason for it. It’s easy to gang up on what Phillips is saying here, as we have seen on Twitter throughout the evening. However, as our own Craig Calcaterra wrote about Jeff Samardzija exactly one month ago, does it really matter if a player understands or values sabermetrics?

Votto has embraced sabermetrics and that can have its advantages, but it’s not essential for a player to do so. There are analytics departments for that and coaching staffs to communicate information to players in an accessible way. We would have a problem here if Phillips said he purposely makes outs rather than draw a walk. He’s not saying that. However, he feels that he gets paid to swing the bat and drive in runs. That’s his approach and how he justifies his place in the lineup. It’s worked for him in the past, but his deficiencies are standing out a bit more now that he’s seemingly past his peak and moving into his mid-30s. And now he looks stubborn as he tries to defend something that has worked for him in the past. It’s probably frustrating. And from that prism, you can understand him getting extra defensive when he gets asked about on-base percentage, even if he’s wrong. It would be more alarming to hear this kind of talk from a general manager or front office executive as opposed to a player. Fortunately, Phillips is not in that position. He’s just a player with an opinion.

Rangers release veteran reliever Joe Beimel

Oakland Athletics v Seattle Mariners

The Rangers added veteran left-hander Joe Beimel on a major league deal earlier this month, but he pitched awful during Cactus League action and was given his release by the club this afternoon.

Beimel was set to earn a $1.5 million if he made the Opening Day roster, but the contract was not guaranteed. The 37-year-old pitched himself out of the opportunity by allowing 14 runs (11 earned) on 13 hits (including three homers) and two walks over just three innings of work. Ouch.

Beimel had a 2.20 ERA and 25/14 K/BB ratio over 45 innings with the Mariners last season while holding left-handed batters to a .188/.217/.288 batting line. He could still have some value in a specialist role. The Mets are among the teams looking for a left-handed reliever at the moment.

Report: Cuban free agent infielder Hector Olivera likely to pick a team by Wednesday

olivera getty

The situation involving Cuban free agent infielder Hector Olivera has taken some interesting turns over the past month or so, with a report that he has potential ulnar collateral ligament damage in his elbow to him bringing on a new agent after he officially hit free agency, but it looks like the process is finally moving toward a resolution…

This confirms a report from CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, who heard from Olivera’s agent, Greg Genske, that a deal should happen “soon.” Of course, we’ve heard that before with this situation.

From all accounts, the 29-year-old Olivera is someone who should be able to contribute in the majors right away. He’d most likely be a third baseman with the Dodgers or Padres. Juan Uribe is the current projected starter with Los Angeles while Yangervis Solarte and Will Middlebrooks are competing for the job with San Diego.

Clayton Kershaw needed dental work after being hit in the jaw by a comebacker Friday

Clayton Kershaw AP

There was a scary moment in yesterday’s Cactus League game between the Dodgers and Athletics, as back-to-back NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw was hit in the jaw by a comebacker. Fortunately, he was fine. He actually stayed in the game, but he got some dental work done after the game.

According to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said this morning that Kershaw had one tooth extracted and another one repaired. The southpaw stayed at the dentist until 10:30 p.m. local time and could still need another visit in the future to complete the repair. Still, it could have been a lot worse under the circumstances.

Kershaw told Shaikin that his mouth is a little sore after the dental work, but otherwise he’s fine. He’s on track for the season.