Piniella gets prickly

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Thumbnail image for Lou Piniella Cubs.jpgLou Piniella wasn’t in the mood to talk strategy with reporters after yesterday’s game.  The video is here. For those who can’t watch it for some reason, the reporter asked Lou whether he considered having Mike Fontenot bunt in the eighth inning when Marlon Byrd was on second base. Lou:

“Bunting what? With a left-hand hitter up? With a left-hand hitter
up, you want to bunt? What kind of baseball are you playing? Really, what kind of baseball
do you play?”

It’s hard to hear the reporter’s response, but he seems to say something about how getting Byrd over to third base would be a good idea. Lou again:

“How about getting ’em in? Or getting ’em over by
swinging? How ’bout that? Anything else?”

Another question was met with “I don’t know. Talk to the players. Talk to the players.
I don’t know. We should be able to get some people in. We’re getting
some people on–we should be able to get ’em in.”

I’m not a fan of managers pulling that “what, you think you know better than me?” shtick because they know damn well that it’s the reporter’s job to ask that kind of stuff. Unless the question is accompanied by an obvious attitude, it’s designed to get the manager to talk about the game, not to give the guy the third degree. When truly bonehead decisions are made reporters almost always ask about it in a softer way, like “Lou, can you tell us a bit about the sixth inning . . .” as opposed to saying “Lou, why did you pinch hit the batboy for Ramirez in the sixth inning?”

All that said, I’m with Lou on the tactics of it all. Lefty or not, you’ve got your centerfielder in scoring position! Why waste a precious out with a sacrifice there?  Jeez, what kind of baseball is that guy playing?

Cardinals extend José Martínez through 2020

Jose Martinez
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First baseman/outfielder José Martínez agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Cardinals on Saturday, per a team announcement. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Martínez will receive $3.25 million in the deal plus incentives if he earns a more stable place within the starting lineup.

Martínez, 30, played 887 games in the minors before making his major-league debut with the Cardinals at the tail end of the 2016 season. The veteran first baseman has been nothing but productive in the three years since his debut, however, and turned in a career-best performance in 2018 after slashing .305/.364/.457 with 17 home runs, an .821 OPS, and 2.3 fWAR through 590 plate appearances. While he brings some positional flexibility to the table, he’ll be forced to compete against Dexter Fowler and Tyler O'Neill for a full-time gig in right field this year, as Paul Goldschmidt currently has a lock on first base.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the extension wasn’t solely precipitated by Martínez’s productivity in the majors, but by a competing offer from an unnamed Japanese team over the offseason. Goold adds that Martínez would have earned “significantly more than he would in the majors” had the club sold his rights. In the end, they ultimately elected to ink him to a more lucrative deal themselves. He’ll be eligible for arbitration in 2020.