One of the things I’m most eager to see this spring is how Aroldis Chapman does. He’s such an unknown compared to everyone else. He’s been hyped to the nth degree. Is the hype justified? If so, he could prove to be a real difference maker, helping turn a Reds team that currently qualifies, competitively speaking, as “interesting” into one that is genuinely “frisky.”
We won’t have a clear take on Champan’s progress for a while of course, but yesterday he made his debut in Reds camp and things went well:
The ball seemed to snap in Hernandez’s glove as he shouted instructions and encouragement in Spanish. Watching their
$30 million investment pitch — GM Walt Jocketty, assistant GM Bob
Miller, scout Jerry Walker, manager Dusty Baker and pitching coach
Bryan Price. Tony Fossas, the Class A Dayton pitching coach and Cuban
native, translated coaching instructions from behind the mound . . . “Very impressive,” Jocketty said. “I’d like to see him when a hitter
gets in there. He showed good command. Everything was right around the
strike zone. I watched him do his fielding drills over there and that
was pretty good.”
Maybe the coolest thing about this is the Tony Fossas sighting. He’s the ultimate survivor, isn’t he? He wisely or luckily signed with the Cardinals just before they hired Tony La Russa, whose thing for situational lefties likely helped extend his career into his 40s. He takes a job with the Reds just before they sign the most highly-touted Cuban prospect in history, his Cuban heritage likely buying him a little more job security.
When the nukes start flying, I’m going to be wherever Tony Fossas is, because that dude will no doubt be in the right place.
The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.
Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.
The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.
In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.