In “Major League,” Indians manager Lou Brown tells his speedy hitoff man, Willie Mays Hayes to quit swinging for the fences and to use his natural speed to get on base and make things happen. If not? Consequences:
Well, you may run like Mays, but you hit like s**t. With your speed, you should hit the ball on the ground and be legging them out. Every time I see you hit one in the air, you owe me 20 pushups.
Ryne Sandberg was nicer about it with Phillies ledoff man Jimmy Rollins, but the gist is the same. From the Philadelphia Daily News, a story about how Sandberg is telling Rollins to cut down on his home run swing and hit grounders and liners so as to use his speed. Sandberg:
I would like him not to focus on hitting home runs … What I think for Jimmy at the top of the lineup with his speed and his baserunning and as good as he is as a baserunner, he’s got to get on base. I don’t think him focusing on hitting 15 to 20 home runs in the right approach for him.
If that doesn’t happen, Sandberg suggested Rollins could be dropped from the leadoff spot.
You can do those things when you first take over and the team isn’t going anywhere. And Sandberg’s comments about wanting to see Rollins getting on base above all else have to be welcome to Phillies fans. It’ll be interesting to see, however, whether Rollins — a guy who has not been pleased by past efforts to mess with him at the top of the lineup — takes to this or not.
The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.
Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.
The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.
In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.