Rosenthal's latest odds and ends

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oswalt hat tip.jpgWe’re starting to get some legitimate trade deadliney and transactiony stuff happening this week. That means Ken Rosenthal is transitioning out of early season hey-let’s-propose-some-wacky-realignment-thing mode and into what he does best: reporting the rumors and offering some genuinely informed speculation on who could be on the move and where.  Today’s latest:

  • Carlos Zambrano is poised to head to the Cubs rotation, but there’s really no room for him, what with the pretty darn good work the staff has put in thus far.  Feel that? Trade winds!
  • Jose Bautista, Paul Konkerko, and Ty Wigginton could all be available at the deadline. And they just happen to lead all of baseball in home runs, which is neat.  Hear that? That’s Brian Sabean about to buy high!
  • The Nats are likely to strike a deal to keep Adam Dunn in Washington.  This isn’t terribly surprising. More surprising: Rosenthal calls Dunn a “clubhouse leader.”  I’d actually buy this inasmuch as every clubhouse needs a big amiable guy with a good sense of humor. Marty Brennamen, however, is rolling over in his grave.

What? Brennamen isn’t dead yet?  I’ll be damned.

Reds having Michael Lorenzen prepare as a two-way player

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For decades, a legitimate “two-way player” — a player who functions as both a pitcher and as a position player — was nothing but a fantasy. The skill sets required for both are too distinct and require too much prep work, it was thought. The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani shattered that illusion in 2018, posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances as a hitter while posting a 3.31 ERA in 51 2/3 innings as a pitcher.

Since then, several more players have been considered in two-way roles. The Rangers signed Matt Davidson earlier this month and could potentially use him as a corner infielder as well as a reliever. Also earlier this month, James Loney signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters, who plan to use him as both a first baseman and as a pitcher.

You can add Michael Lorenzen of the Reds to that list. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports that the Reds will have Lorenzen prepare this spring as a two-way player. He could both start and relieve while occasionally playing in the outfield. Lorenzen, in fact, took batting practice with the outfielders on Thursday. Previously, he had taken batting practice as extra work following a workout with fellow pitchers.

Lorenzen said, “It’s fantastic, the effort they’re putting in. A lot of the excuses were, ‘You know, we don’t want to overwork him.’ Well, let’s just sit down and talk about it then. They were willing to sit down and talk about it, which is one of the reasons why I love this staff so much and why I think the front office did a great job [hiring] this staff. They’re willing to find solutions for problems.”

New manager David Bell said, “We’ve put together a plan for the whole spring, knowing we can adjust it at any time. We didn’t want to go into each day not knowing what he’s going to do. We all felt better, he did, too. He was part of putting it together.”

Lorenzen, 27, pitched 81 innings last year with a 3.11 ERA and a 54/34 K/BB ratio. He’s one of baseball’s best-hitting pitchers as well. Last year, he swatted four homers and knocked in 10 runs in 34 trips to the plate. The last pitcher to hit at least four homers in a season was the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, who did it in both 2014 (four) and 2015 (five). Lorenzen also posted a 1.043 OPS. According to Baseball Reference, there have been only 11 pitchers to OPS over 1.000 (min. 30 PA). The only ones to do it in the 2000’s are Lorenzen last year, Micah Owings in 2007 (1.033) and Dontrelle Willis in 2011 (1.032).