Indians rookie catcher Carlos Santana is really, really good

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Carlos Santana’s promotion to Cleveland kind of got lost in the call-up shuffle last month as Stephen Strasburg and Mike Stanton dominated the hype and headlines, but the switch-hitting catcher has been fantastic and the Indians are quietly playing much better since his arrival.
Prior to calling up Santana the Indians were 23-36, but they’ve gone 17-18 with him in the lineup as the 24-year-old acquired from the Dodgers for Casey Blake in mid-2008 has hit .282 with a .431 on-base percentage and .547 slugging percentage in 153 plate appearances.
In the minors Santana drew more walks than strikeouts while getting on base at a .401 clip, but drawing 32 walks in 153 trips to the plate is remarkable patience for a rookie getting his first taste of the big leagues. Projected over a full season of 600 plate appearances, he’s on a 125-walk pace. Gene Tenace holds the all-time walks record for catchers with 125 in 1977.
Santana has also shown excellent power, smacking six homers and 13 doubles in 117 at-bats. He never showed quite that much pop in the minors, but did average 21 homers and 34 doubles per 500 at-bats. Offensively he’s the total package, with power and patience from both sides of the plate. And he’s even thrown out 35 percent of steal attempts after struggling to control the running game at times in the minors.
He’ll no doubt go through a rough patch eventually, but Santana’s minor-league track record is nearly flawless, his approach at the plate is fantastic, and he has the potential to be a perennial MVP candidate long after Casey Blake is retired. Sorry, Dodgers fans.

Dan Straily suspended five games, Don Mattingly one for throwing at Buster Posey

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Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that Marlins pitcher Dan Straily has been suspended five games and Don Mattingly one game for throwing intentionally at Giants catcher Buster Posey on Tuesday in San Francisco. Straily plans to appeal his suspension, so he will be allowed to take his normal turn through the rotation until that matter is settled.

Everything started on Monday, when the Marlins rallied in the ninth inning against closer Hunter Strickland. That included a game-tying single from Lewis Brinson, who pumped his fist and yelled in celebration. Strickland took exception, jawing at Brinson who was on third base when the right-hander was taken out of the game. Strickland went into the clubhouse and punched a door, breaking his hand.

The next day, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez hit Brinson with a fastball, which prompted warnings for both teams. Mattingly came out to argue with the umpires about the fairness of issuing warnings right then and there. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly apparently said, “You’re next” to Posey, who was standing around home plate. The next inning, Straily hit Posey on the arm with a fastball, which led to immediate ejections for both him and Mattingly.

Neither Rodriguez nor Giants manager Bruce Bochy were reprimanded, which is ludicrous because it was plainly obvious Rodriguez was throwing at Brinson. But neither team had been issued warnings. Essentially, Major League Baseball is giving free reign for teams to get their revenge pitches in. Furthermore, Straily’s five-game suspension is hardly a deterrent for throwing at a hitter. The Marlins could simply give Straily an extra day of rest and it’s like he was never suspended at all.

Beanball wars are bad for baseball. It puts players at risk for obvious reasons. When players have to miss time due to avoidable injury, self-inflicted (in the case of Strickland) or not (if, for example, Posey had a hand or wrist broken from Straily’s pitch), the game suffers because it becomes an inferior product. That’s, of course, second behind the simple fact that throwing at a player is a tremendously childish way to handle a disagreement. When aimed intentionally at another human being, a baseball is a weapon. That’s especially true when it’s in the hands of someone who has been trained to throw anywhere from 90 to 100 MPH.

Commisioner Rob Manfred has spent a lot of time trying to make the game of baseball more appealing, such adding pitch clocks and limiting mound visits. He should spend some time addressing the throwing-at-batters problem.