The Indians are going to give catcher Carlos Santana the Victor Martinez treatment:
Next thing on Santana’s spring-training checklist is learning how to play first base. Eduardo Perez and Mike Hargrove, former first basemen and recently hired by the Indians, will help him in the weeks to come.
Santana — who played third when he was in the Dodgers organization — is expected to play some Cactus League games at first, but there’s no plan to actually give him time at first during the regular season.
At least for now. It would devalue his bat an awful lot to move him from behind the plate — the most valuable defensive position — to first base — the least valuable one. But it’s also the case that (a) Santana’s bat could reasonably carry first base anyway; and (b) he’s not the best catcher the world has ever seen.
I don’t know what the defensive metrics or scouting reports say about him, but I watched him catch several times in Columbus last year, sitting right behind home plate. My sense: he’s kinda shaky. He does little things that make you feel like he’s not comfortable. He stands up out of his squat between pitches more than a lot of guys do. He shifts around and reaches for balls more. Maybe a lot of that is his pitching staff, but he doesn’t seem like a born catcher in any real way apart from his physique.
You give Santana every chance imaginable to catch of course, but teaching him a little first base ain’t the worst idea in the world.
As you no doubt saw already, Mets manager Mickey Callaway had a bad day yesterday. After some testy exchanges with the media over his bullpen use, he blew up at Newsday reporter Tim Healey after Healey told Callaway that he’d see him tomorrow, which Callaway took as sarcastic. Then Jason Vargas unhelpfully piled on, walking toward Healey and threatening him with violence. Healy spoke to his Newsday colleague David Lennon and explained the whole thing here. He’s pretty even-handed about it.
Callaway was already thought to be on at least moderately thin ice as Mets manager given his team’s underachievement this year. Thin ice or not, it’s not unreasonable to say that his behavior yesterday is something that a lot of teams would think of as a fireable offense. At the very least leaders in other businesses would think that way if one of their public-facing employees treated a reporter who covered him in that manner. In addition to it simply being bad form, it raises questions about Callaway’s temperament and his ability to handle pressure and adversity.
The Mets, however, do not seem to consider the matter to raise to that level. While they offered apologies to Healey and vowed that that he will be welcome in the clubhouse — for which Healey was appreciative — Callaway will be back to work as usual today, with the Mets announcing this morning that he will hold his usual pre-game press conference at 4PM in advance of tonight’s game against the Phillies.
Tell me: if you’re the GM or owner of a team and your manager does that, do you keep him? What do you do?