Exciting day for utility infielders!
First the Phillies signed Ronny Cedeno and now Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Astros have signed Cesar Izturis to a minor-league deal.
Izturis spent last season with the Reds, hitting .209 with zero homers and a .530 OPS in 63 games at age 31. He’s one of the worst hitters of this era and hasn’t topped a .650 OPS since 2004, but obviously teams don’t have Izturis around for his bat.
He’ll try to win a bench job during spring training.
Because he received a qualifying offer from the Red Sox and signing him will require the forfeiture of a top draft pick, there was some thought that free agent shortstop Stephen Drew might struggle to attract multiple lucrative offers on the open market this offseason. But that apparently won’t be the case.
A source told Rob Bradford of WEEI on Saturday that “a bunch of teams (are) moving quick” on Drew, who inked a one-year, $9.5 million deal with Boston last winter and is now looking to cash in big.
The 30-year-old former first-round pick hit .253/.333/.443 with 13 home runs and 67 RBI in 124 games this summer for the World Series champs while playing his usual brand of steady defense at short.
The other shortstops on the market this winter: Jhonny Peralta, Robert Andino, Clint Barmes, Willie Bloomquist, Jamey Carroll, Alexi Casilla, Luis Cruz, Rafael Furcal, Alex Gonzalez, Nick Green, Brendan Harris, Cesar Izturis, Munenori Kawasaki, John McDonald, Cody Ransom and Brendan Ryan.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said last week on WEEI that he hopes Drew returns.
By OPS, the 2013 season boasts three of the six worst offensive seasons since 2000:
.545 – Cesar Izturis (2010 Orioles)
.559 – Alcides Escobar (2013 Royals)
.562 – Nick Punto (2007 Twins)
.564 – Neifi Perez (2002 Royals)
.565 – Adeiny Hechavarria (2013 Marlins)
.569 – Darwin Barney (2013 Cubs)
.576 – Ramon Santiago (2003 Tigers)
.588 – Michael Bourn (2008 Astros)
.592 – Angel Berroa (2006 Royals)
.593 – Brad Ausmus (2006 Astros)
Yes, the Royals have had some shortstop troubles through the years.
Now, those are just the guys that qualified for the batting title. It doesn’t count Pete Kozma’s .548 mark in 410 at-bats or B.J. Upton’s .556 in 391 at-bats. Upton, though, does have the very worst OPS for an outfielder minimum 400 plate appearances since 2000.
.557 – B.J. Upton (2013 Braves)
.559 – Willy Taveras (2009 Reds)
.560 – Peter Bergeron (2001 Expos)
And how about Blue Jays J.P. Arencibia? He finished six plate appearances shy of qualifying for the batting title or his .595 OPS would have put him 12th on the first list. What’s amazing is that he managed the sub-.600 OPS while hitting 21 homers. That’s far and away the worst OPS ever for a 20-homer guy:
.595 – J.P. Arencibia (2013 Blue Jays)
.649 – Willie Kirkland (1962 Indians)
.654 – Marquis Grissom (2001 Dodgers)
.660 – Vernon Wells (2011 Angels)
.663 – Tony Batista (2003 Orioles)
And what’s a “spectacularly bad offensive performances” article without a Yuniesky Betancourt cameo. With his .595 OPS, Betancourt didn’t rank among the very worst hitters this year, but he was spectacularly bad for a guy who played first base half of the time.
Here are the worst OPSs for first baseman (min. 400 plate appearances) during the expansion era (1961-present):
.566 – Ed Kranepool (1968 Mets)
.591 – Dan Meyer (1978 Mariners)
.595 – Yuniesky Betancourt (2013 Brewers)
.600 – Enos Cabell (1981 Astros)
.602 – Pete Rose (1983 Phillies)
After Shin-Soo Choo doubled to lead off the bottom of the 13th in this afternoon’s game against the Miami Marlins, Reds shortstop Zack Cozart attempted to sacrifice bunt to move the runner over to third with one out. Steve Cishek’s sinker, which runs in on right-handed hitters, nailed Cozart on his finger. The 27-year-old was clearly in a lot of pain and had to be removed from the game. Cesar Izturis replaced him and eventually moved Choo to third base on a fly ball to center field.
MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports that x-rays turned up negative for Cozart, which should allow the Reds to exhale in relief. Though Cozart entered the game hitting .246 and lowered it with an 0-for-6 effort today, he had logged multi-hit games in three of his previous four games and was playing well defensively.