David Ortiz had Bobby V’s back

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One of the more notable early season memes/impressions/whatever has been this idea that Bobby Valentine is not particularly well-liked in the Boston Red Sox clubhouse. Some of it was based on some legitimate comments or events, a lot of it was based on our assumptions of what Valentine is like and how he may or may not mesh with a veteran team.

But there is a suggestion that if there was ever anything to the notion of Valentine angst, it’s changing. In the course of Joe McDonald’s story of the Red Sox’ turnaround (news flash: people feel better when they’re winning) we hear that David Ortiz called that now-famous team meeting specifically because Bobby V. was gettin’ beat up:

“I was feeling really bad about Bobby the way things were going and it was because I can see the frustration on his face … I saw his frustrations and I felt like [expletive],” added Ortiz.

Boston drama can be and quite often is overstated. But I don’t think that, in light of the departure of the well-loved Terry Francona, this sort of thing is insignificant.

(thanks to big leagues for the heads up)

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”