Tyler Pastornicky came into spring training as the favorite to be the Braves’ shortstop and today they made it official, naming the 22-year-old prospect the Opening Day starter.
Pastornicky was acquired from the Blue Jays in the mid-2010 deal for Yunel Escobar and replaces veteran Alex Gonzalez, who signed with the Brewers as a free agent. Jack Wilson is hurt, so he beat out fellow prospect Andrelton Simmons for the job.
Simmons is headed to the minors, but could be in Atlanta later this season if Pastornicky struggles. And while Pastornicky’s lofty .314 batting average between Double-A and Triple-A as a 21-year-old last season makes struggling seem unlikely, he also managed just seven homers, 27 total extra-base hits, and 32 walks in 117 games.
Pastornicky rarely strikes out and has very good speed, which should enable him to post a solid batting average, but expecting him to hit .300-plus is obviously wishful thinking and his lack of power and patience are definitely weaknesses. Of course, the Braves lived with Gonzalez’s brutal .277 on-base percentage and measly .377 slugging percentage for the past season-and-a-half, so as long as Pastornicky plays good defense, steals some bases, and hits some singles they’ll probably be happy.
Every day brings a new player showing up to camp, facing the media and offering their two cents about the Astros, the sign-stealing scandal and Major League Baseball’s handling of it.
Today Justin Turner of the Dodgers gave more than his two cents. He gave a few bucks worth.
Speaking to the Dodgers media contingent, Turner reacted most strongly to Commissioner Rob Manfred’s comments yesterday, in which he talked about why he chose not to force the Astros to vacate their 2017 World Series title, calling the World Series trophy, “a piece of metal.” From the L.A. Times:
“I don’t know if the commissioner has ever won anything in his life. Maybe he hasn’t. But the reason every guy’s in this room, the reason every guy is working out all offseason, and showing up to camp early and putting in all the time and effort is specifically for that trophy, which, by the way, is called the commissioner’s trophy.
“So for him to devalue it the way he did yesterday just tells me how out of touch he is with the players in this game. At this point the only thing devaluing that trophy is that it says ‘commissioner’ on it.”
Turner is also upset that Astros players were not disciplined, and basically implied that, to the Astros, manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow losing their jobs over this was worth it:
“Now anyone who goes forward and cheats to win a World Series, they can live with themselves knowing that, ‘Oh, it’s OK. … We’ll cheat in the World Series and bring the title back to L.A. Screw Dave Roberts and screw Andrew [Friedman]. It’s just those guys losing their jobs. I still get to be called a champion the rest of my life.’ So the precedent was set by him yesterday in this case.”
Turner thinks the Astros should give their rings back and give back the trophy. Though, really, I’m not sure what the league would do with it. To them it’s just a piece of metal, right?