ESPN has announced that Jessica Mendoza is now a permanent member of the “Sunday Night Baseball” broadcast team. What’s more, John Kruk is out — he’ll be on “Baseball Tonight” still — and Aaron Boone is in. The play-by-play man remains Dan Shulman.
The Mendoza part is not terribly surprising. She replaced Curt Schilling last year following his suspension over his social media habits and received good reviews. More surprising is Kruk leaving. While he was never a super popular member of the broadcast team, his quality as an analyst seemed to improve after Schilling left. Like, he sort of played to the level of his peers in some respects and just did better when the lame banter he and Schilling engaged in went away.
Still, I understand ESPN’s desire to clean the slate from last year and to take away the notion of the two analysts being junior and senior on the Sunday Night broadcast, as it were. And of course, Boone does a pretty good job as it is and he should be a good addition to ESPN’s flagship baseball show.
The only downside to all of this is that it’s going to bring out the small group of deadenders who are just angry that a woman is calling baseball games. They flared up and embarrassed themselves when Mendoza was first put on the air and they’ll get all angry again now. They’ll claim it isn’t because they hate women in roles men have traditionally filled. They’ll claim that it’s really because Mendoza never played Major League Baseball and somehow is unqualified. Of course they never lodged this complaint at, say, Tom Verducci when he was calling the World Series, but don’t expect intellectual consistency from this bunch.
Congrats to Mendoza and Boone. Condolences to Kruk, but c’est la vie.
Looking to add some veteran bullpen options, the Phillies have agreed to minor-league contracts with right-handers Andrew Bailey and Edward Mujica.
Bailey won the Rookie of the Year award and made two All-Star teams in his first two seasons with the A’s, but he’s basically been injured every year since then. He hasn’t thrown more than 30 innings in a season since 2011 and totaled just nine innings for the Yankees this year after not appearing in the majors at all in 2014. He does still have some upside at age 32, but teams have been saying that about Bailey for a long time now without much payoff.
Mujica split 2015 between the Red Sox and A’s, logging a total of 47 innings with a 4.75 ERA and 30/7 K/BB ratio. His durability is sometimes an issue and his strikeout rate has dipped in recent years, but the 32-year-old former All-Star has pinpoint control and a combined 3.53 ERA in 477 innings since 2009.
Philadelphia previously signed right-handers David Hernandez and Ernesto Frieri, so the Phillies have no shortage of experience among bullpen options.
J.J. Cooper of Baseball America, who’s one of the most plugged-in prospect writers around, has two sources telling him the Phillies plan to take Rays minor leaguer Tyler Goeddel with the No. 1 pick in the Rule 5 draft tomorrow.
Goeddel was the 44th overall pick in the 2011 draft out of a California high school, but the 22-year-old outfielder/third baseman has hit just .262 with 31 homers and a .739 OPS in 451 pro games.
He showed some promise this year at Double-A, hitting .279 with 12 homers, 28 steals, and a .783 OPS in 123 games while playing all three outfield spots defensively.
Right-hander David Hernandez, who returned from Tommy John elbow surgery to show signs of his old self for the Diamondbacks, has agreed to a deal with the Phillies according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
Hernandez was a dominant setup man early in his career, but his strikeout rate dipped in 2013 and then he missed all of 2014 following surgery. He came back to throw 34 innings in 2015, posting a 4.28 ERA and 33/11 K/BB ratio.
He’ll likely be slated for a setup role in Philadelphia, although it’s possible Hernandez could work his way into the closer mix if the Phillies end up trading Ken Giles for a big package of prospects.
Trevor Cahill went from nearly washing out of the big leagues to pitching in the playoffs for the Cubs this season and Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that the two sides have agreed to a one-year $4.25 million deal that keeps the free agent right-hander in Chicago.
Cahill had success as a starter early in his career for the A’s and Diamondbacks, but a brutal 2014 got him traded to the Braves and a rough first half this past season got him released. He latched on with the Cubs, shifted to the bullpen full time, and tossed 17 innings with a 2.12 ERA and 22/5 K/BB ratio down the stretch.
That’s a very small sample size for a 28-year-old with more than 1,000 innings in the majors, but Cahill’s velocity and raw stuff played up quite a bit working as a reliever and he’s always done a good job limiting home runs. He’ll likely begin 2016 in a middle relief role for the Cubs, but might get a chance to start.