UPDATE: T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that Oliver and the Rangers have reached a deal for $3.5 million with a vesting option for 2011. The option may be moot, however, as Oliver has said that he’ll probably retire after 2010. I suppose that all depends on how 2010 goes for him on the field.
8:00 A.M.: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that Darren Oliver and the Rangers are near a deal. No sense on what the money is, but he says it could be done early this week.
Oliver made $3.665 million last year and posted a career-best ERA for a second straight season, finishing at 2.71 in 73 innings. He was probably the Angels’ best reliever, and if it weren’t for the fact that Anaheim has a handful of crummy contracts with other guys (Justin Speier, Brian Fuentes, Scot Sheilds) Anaheim probably would have offered him arbitration which would have effectively ensured his return.
Just a lesson that, more often than not, a handful of bad, mid-range deals can handicap a team far worse than a big bad contract can.
Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has not had a good postseason. Entering Monday night’s NLCS Game 3, he was batting .111/.238/.278 in 21 trips to the plate across the NLDS and the first two games of the NLCS.
Defense has also been an issue for Grandal. In Game 1 of the NLCS, Grandal was on the hook for two passed balls. In the sixth inning of Game 3 Monday night, he couldn’t corral a curve in the dirt, which allowed Travis Shaw to score the Brewers’ second run of the night. Starter Walker Buehler was charged with a wild pitch. In the eighth, with Ryan Braun on first base and Shaw at the plate, Grandal again couldn’t corral a pitch in the dirt, allowing Braun to move to second base. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Alex Wood was able to escape the inning with no damage.
Manager Dave Roberts said that Austin Barnes, not Grandal, will start behind the plate for Game 4 on Tuesday night, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. That comes as no surprise at all. When Grandal struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Dodger fans regaled him with boos.
Barnes will be an upgrade defensively, but he’s lacking with the bat. He had an 0-for-3 performance in Game 2, though with an RBI, bringing his career slash line in the playoffs to .200/.281/.300 across 57 plate appearances. During the regular season, his career 100 adjusted OPS is a fair bit behind Grandal’s 115. Roberts is trading offense for defense in Game 4. Rich Hill will get the start opposite the Brewers’ Gio González.