It’s been hours since we posted something about Bobby Valentine. Was getting the shakes. Thank goodness for Patrick Mooney at CSNChicago.com, who reminds us that the guy managing the Cubs could have very easily been managing the Red Sox:
Sveum got a second interview with the Red Sox and appeared to be a favorite before the Cubs closed the deal last November and the Boston brass went in a totally different direction.
Judging only by Sveum’s flat tone, never-defensive mannerisms and easy-going confidence – which are the same almost every day – you would have trouble telling whether he’s managing a team that’s headed toward 100 wins or 100 losses.
Well, we must note, it is 100 losses and they will do far worse than the Red Sox this year. No arguing that point at all. One wonders, though, if a guy with a connection to that clubhouse and a different sort of temperament like Sveum has would have stood a better chance than Valentine stood. Which was basically zero.
The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.
Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.
Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.