Great Moments in Core Four love

40 Comments

The Core Four: Derek Jeter. Mariano Rivera. Jorge Posada. And, um, maybe Clay Bellinger? I forget. Not important.

What is important is that for years Yankees writers have always made sure to protect the necks of those guys, particularly Jeter and Rivera. Woe be unto anyone who is insufficiently reverent of them and woe, woe, woe be unto any Yankees player who has any kind of dustup with them for they shall be told, in no uncertain terms, that they are not the True Yankees and Gentlemen that Rivera, Jeter and — man, I wanna say Brosius? — are.

Such is the case with Wallace Matthews and Joba Chamberlain today. The Joba Chamberlain who shushed Mariano Rivera the other day was shushed by Mariano Rivera the other day and reacted angrily to it. It was a scandal of something a million miles less than epic proportions, it’s over now and it’s meaningless, but you wouldn’t believe it to read Matthews. This silly little incident is, it seems, a referendum on Joba Chamberlain as a human being and Matthews spares no purple prose in telling us just how much less of a human and a pitcher Chamberlain is than Rivera is in making his point.

Which, thanks! Because before this I was certain that Chamberlain was a better pitcher than Rivera and now I know differently.

Seriously, though, you have to read it to believe it in all of its overwrought glory:

In the same ballpark where Mariano Rivera’s Yankees career nearly ended a year ago on the warning track, Joba Chamberlain’s Yankees tenure surely did in the dugout, his mouth writing what will soon be the epitaph to a career that turned out to be no more than a broken promise.

So confused. If the promise was broken, was it not false? And might that mean now that his mouth is, um, writing something other than an epitaph? Chamberlain is the Master of Lies! Maybe he is deceiving us!

Also note that, once again, Joba playing with his son on a trampoline is seen as a character flaw. That never gets old. And there is a passage in which Matthews suggests that Rivera would surely forgive Chamberlain where others might not. I was hoping he’d go with a full-on Jesus comparison at that point, but he used his deft writer’s touch to only suggest it. Probably wanted to avoid potential blasphemy in saying His name too many times or something.

In any event, this is so beyond parody of the Sucking Up to the True Yankees genre that I have to wonder if Matthews has gone completely meta on us and this is, rather, a COMMENT on all of that.  If so, well-played, Wallace.

Reds having Michael Lorenzen prepare as a two-way player

Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Leave a comment

For decades, a legitimate “two-way player” — a player who functions as both a pitcher and as a position player — was nothing but a fantasy. The skill sets required for both are too distinct and require too much prep work, it was thought. The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani shattered that illusion in 2018, posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances as a hitter while posting a 3.31 ERA in 51 2/3 innings as a pitcher.

Since then, several more players have been considered in two-way roles. The Rangers signed Matt Davidson earlier this month and could potentially use him as a corner infielder as well as a reliever. Also earlier this month, James Loney signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters, who plan to use him as both a first baseman and as a pitcher.

You can add Michael Lorenzen of the Reds to that list. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports that the Reds will have Lorenzen prepare this spring as a two-way player. He could both start and relieve while occasionally playing in the outfield. Lorenzen, in fact, took batting practice with the outfielders on Thursday. Previously, he had taken batting practice as extra work following a workout with fellow pitchers.

Lorenzen said, “It’s fantastic, the effort they’re putting in. A lot of the excuses were, ‘You know, we don’t want to overwork him.’ Well, let’s just sit down and talk about it then. They were willing to sit down and talk about it, which is one of the reasons why I love this staff so much and why I think the front office did a great job [hiring] this staff. They’re willing to find solutions for problems.”

New manager David Bell said, “We’ve put together a plan for the whole spring, knowing we can adjust it at any time. We didn’t want to go into each day not knowing what he’s going to do. We all felt better, he did, too. He was part of putting it together.”

Lorenzen, 27, pitched 81 innings last year with a 3.11 ERA and a 54/34 K/BB ratio. He’s one of baseball’s best-hitting pitchers as well. Last year, he swatted four homers and knocked in 10 runs in 34 trips to the plate. The last pitcher to hit at least four homers in a season was the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, who did it in both 2014 (four) and 2015 (five). Lorenzen also posted a 1.043 OPS. According to Baseball Reference, there have been only 11 pitchers to OPS over 1.000 (min. 30 PA). The only ones to do it in the 2000’s are Lorenzen last year, Micah Owings in 2007 (1.033) and Dontrelle Willis in 2011 (1.032).