Maybe we need to lay off the Omar Infante All-Star selection

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Jayson Stark tweets that both of the All-Star managers were told by Major League Baseball that they needed to pick a “multi-position” player in order to take advantage of the new rule allowing managers to return one player to the game after he comes out. It was for that reason, Stark says, Charlie Manuel chose Omar Infante and Joe Girardi chose Ty Wigginton, each of whom are capable of playing multiple positions.

Stark’s take: if fans had known that beforehand, and if there had been a position for, say, “designated utilityman” or something, no one would have had a problem with the Infante pick. He’s probably right about that.

Of course that still doesn’t make perfect sense because, to take advantage of the re-substitution rule, the managers would have to play Infante and Wigginton someplace else first, remove them and then return them to the game, which means more play from undeserving players than from legitimate All-Stars, and that would be silly.  Better to have no re-substitution rule at all and instead have an extra roster spot for utility guy who is not intended to play unless the game goes into extra innings, the team gets desperate or whatever.

But I get what Stark’s saying.  And it makes it pretty clear that Charlie Manuel didn’t think that Omar Infante was somehow a more deserving All-Star selection than Joey Votto or someone.  The bosses told him to take a utility guy, and as far as utility guys go, Infante is as good a choice as any in the National League.

He still needs to explain that Ryan Howard pick, though, because he’s just got no business there this year.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.