Elvis Andrus

Leonys Martin AP

Rangers manager Jeff Banister plans to use Leonys Martin as leadoff hitter


The top of the Rangers’ lineup will have a new look this season, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that rookie manager Jeff Banister plans to use center fielder Leonys Martin as his regular leadoff man.

Martin will provide speed at the top of the lineup, but he doesn’t exactly profile as an ideal leadoff man. The 27-year-old owns a .316 on-base percentage over his first 334 games in the majors with a walk rate of 6.2 percent. His on-base percentage against left-handed pitching sits at just .279.

Shin-Soo Choo saw the majority of his starts out of the leadoff spot when healthy last season and while he batted just .242 with 13 home runs and .714 OPS across 123 games, he still managed a .340 on-base percentage. The 32-year-old boasts a .383 on-base percentage for his career, which is ninth-highest among active players.

While Martin is now slotted in as the leadoff man, it’s unclear what this means for the No. 2 spot. Banister could put Choo there and slide Elvis Andrus down in the order, but that would leave them vulnerable against left-handers. The alternative would be to keep Andrus in the No. 2 spot and move Choo to the middle of the order.

Elvis Andrus is in The Best Shape of his Life

Elvis Andrus

Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports:

Shortstop Elvis Andrus on Monday surged to the lead for most times invoking the spring training cliché “best shape of my career” by a Ranger.

One thing. Andrus appeared to be telling the truth . . . He joined a group of about a dozen teammates who religiously worked out daily at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He took up yoga and Pilates to increase his flexibility.

The difference is striking. Andrus dropped about 12 pounds and lost the puffy look to his face. He energetically bounced around the field during an informal workout that included seven projected starting position players.

Andrus hit a poor .263/.314/.333 last season and saw his stolen base success rate fall to 64 percent. He signed an eight-year, $120 million contract extension in April 2013.

(Thanks to Emily for the heads up)

Initial thoughts on the Yankees-Tigers-Diamondbacks trade

Robbie Ray

These are not deep thoughts. Just thoughts:

    • It’s cool that the Tigers, Yankees and Diamondbacks can get together for three-way trades every few years. The last one — with Curtis Granderson, Max Scherzer and all of those guys — set the gold standard, but this one is good too.
    • It’s also cool that Didi Gregorius is involved in his second three-way trade in a couple of years. If he doesn’t parlay this — plus his playing abilities — into some sort of nickname like “three-way” or “triple threat” then what’s the point, man?
    • I like this trade for the Yankees. Gregorius will be, at his worst, as good as Derek Jeter was on offense in 2014 and his 2013 hitting suggests he can be better than that, even if he’s never a particularly dangerous hitter. That plus a defensive game which is streets ahead of anything Jeter did in, oh, the past 15 years, will make him a nice upgrade over The Captain, all for a very low, low salary. This is way better than signing, say, Stephen Drew and hoping he can return to old form or trading for a big name like Elvis Andrus who will cost a lot and not be as good as his reputation. Gregorius is a legit shortstop who is team-controlled. Those don’t grow on trees.
    • Of course, even if he’s a better hitter and defender and he’s cheaper, there will be a certain segment of Yankees fans which will be on his case for anything he does because he’s not Derek Jeter. Which sucks, but which is inevitable. As someone once said, don’t replace the man, replace the man who replaces the man. Someone has to play shortstop in New York in a post-Jeter world, and unfortunately for Gregorius, it’s him.
    • For the Tigers, Shane Greene is an interesting pickup. He had 14 starts last year and was a tick above league average, which looks good. But he also outperformed his considerably longer minor league track record with that. He has some good tools, though — a nice fastball and some groundball tendencies — which could make him one of those guys who pitch better than his minor league numbers may suggest. Some guys just take a bit to put it together. And it’s not like the Tigers need an ace in the rotation. A good guy on the back end is totally cool.
    • For the Dbacks, I dunno, Robbie Ray was horrible in the bigs in a short stint in 2014. He struck out a lot of guys and walked a lot of guys in the minors. Last year he posted a 1.59 ERA through is first five starts at Triple-A, with a 21/5 K/BB ratio in 28 innings, showing his promise, but he is not a flawless prospect and the Dbacks, in recent years, haven’t done well with the pitchers they’ve acquired. He’ll be a good first test for the new regime.
    • The Dbacks will also be getting shortstop Domingo Leyba from the Tigers. He’s only 19 and hasn’t played above A-ball, but he hit very well across two levels in 67 games last season. In leagues in which he was very young. He’s not projected to stick at short, however, so he’ll have to hit if second base is where he ends up.

This will get all the press because of Gregorius being the guy who replaces Derek Jeter, but it’s a fun baseball trade all around.