Hank Schulman has a feature story today about Cody Ross catapulting into fame last fall on the power of postseason heroics. He compares this to the legacies of Dusty Rhodes, Al Weis, Buddy Biancalana, Brian Doyle and … Mark Lemke:
Lemke might be the most famous member of the fraternity, at least in this era. The slick fielder hit .234 in 1991, then went nuts in the World Series against Minnesota. After hitting two triples in the regular season, he tied a Series record with three against the Twins and hit .417.
Lemke stamped his reputation as a great postseason hitter. Though that was not always true, he did hit .272 over five postseasons while finishing an 11-year major-league career with a .246 average.
Those postseason heroics always made casual Braves fans — which, by definition, is most Braves fans — think a bit too highly of Lemke’s bat and left ’em hoping he’d do something greater. I imagine the same will happen to Cody Ross. He’s a nice player, but he’s not hit-homers-off-Roy-Halladay-at-will kind of guy. Serious fans know this, but the people who jumped on the bandwagon during the playoffs will probably always wonder why Ross isn’t an MVP or something.
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.