Dick Kaegel is a pretty optimistic guy — he’s predicting the Royals will take the AL Central with 88 wins — but that might not be the craziest thing he wrote in his “10 questions” piece for MLB.com:
Which player will be the biggest surprise of the 2010 season?
I’m picking Betancourt, who’ll find new life under the guidance of
coaches Eddie Rodriguez and Dave Owen. The shortstop seems to be
catching on to nuances of the game that eluded him in his rapid rise to
the Majors after leaving Cuba.
Apparently those nuances don’t include taking pitches or fielding the baseball with any degree of competence. Betancourt is a near-lock to make contact (88.3% for his career),
but that doesn’t make the results any less frustrating. The best
surprise for Royals fans would be if Mike Aviles works his way back
from Tommy John surgery to take the starting shortstop job back from this
sort of mediocrity.
Fresh off our “Manny Machado didn’t hustle” post, here’s one about him trying a little too hard. Machado was called for interference in the bottom of the fourth inning during Monday night’s NLCS Game 3 against the Brewers at Dodger Stadium. It was actually Machado’s second attempt to interfere with Orlando Arcia during the game.
In the bottom of the second, Machado led off with a single. Cody Bellinger followed up by hitting a grounder to second baseman Travis Shaw, who fed to Arcia. Machado slid towards Arcia enough to disrupt the play, allowing Bellinger to reach first base safely. The Brewers didn’t challenge, in part because Arcia didn’t attempt a throw.
Fast forward to the bottom of the fourth. Machado again leads off and again reaches base, this time with a walk. Bellinger hits another grounder. First baseman Jesús Aguilar snags the ball and fires to Arcia covering the second base bag. Machado slides into second base and reaches out with his right hand to mess with Arcia’s throw to first base. It succeeds, as Arcia’s throw skips past first base towards the dugout. Brewers manager Craig Counsell challenged the call, alleging slide interference (the “Chase Utley rule”). The umpires reviewed the play and agreed that Machado did indeed interfere with Arcia, so Bellinger was called out. What made Machado’s effort even worse is that Bellinger would’ve reached easily regardless, so there was no need to interfere with Arcia.
The Dodgers trail the Brewers 1-0 through the first half of the game. The Brewers got their run early thanks to an RBI double by Ryan Braun off of Walker Buehler in the top of the first. Jhoulys Chacín has pitched excellently for the Brewers thus far.