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Willie Calhoun: Starting season at Triple-A was “a slap in the face”


Outfielder Willie Calhoun is listed as the Rangers’ No. 2 prospect and No. 53 overall in baseball. He handled Triple-A really well, batting a composite .300/.355/.572 with 31 home runs and 93 RBI in 534 plate appearances with Oklahoma City (Dodgers) and Round Rock (Rangers).

Calhoun, 23, did struggle in his cup of coffee in the majors last September, batting .265/.324/.353 in 37 plate appearances. He also didn’t have the most impressive spring, batting .243/.282/.324 in 39 PA. But, as’s Gerard Gilberto reports, Calhoun felt that was “a slap in the face” for the Rangers to have him start the 2018 season at Triple-A instead of in the majors.

Of course, service time was the main factor behind that. As mentioned in this post on the Yankees’ Gleyber Torres, once the schedule reaches a certain point in April, teams are assured of an extra year of contractual control over a player who has yet to accrue major league service time. The Rangers would like that extra year of control, of course.

Calhoun said, “I was really mad, just because I felt like I had nothing else to prove here at Triple-A. When you hear that you’re going back to a league after you had such a good year like that … I just kind of felt like it was a slap in the face.”

Calhoun has struggled to begin his 2018 campaign at Round Rock. Entering Sunday, he was batting .256/.275/.359 in 40 PA. But, in what was perhaps a sign he’s breaking out of his slump, Calhoun registered three hits and three RBI on Saturday, extending his hitting streak to six games.

Starters? Openers? Who cares? It’s the lack of offense killing the Brewers

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The talk of Game 5 of the NLCS — and, indeed, the talk of the postseason so far — has been the Brewers’ creative use of their pitching staff. Indeed, Craig Counsell calling for Brandon Woodruff, and removing Miley from the game after just one batter and five pitches, stands as one of the more audacious acts of bullpenning in recent memory.

In light of that strategy, it was tempting to compare and contrast the Brewers’ approach to that of the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw gave up an early run and, as has so often been the case lately, didn’t look super sharp early. But as the game wore on he got stronger, his curve got more devastating and he turned in an ace-like performance, leaving after seven innings of work, retiring the final 13 batters he faced. The Brewers may have an army of pitchers they throw at you, but the Dodgers, on this night, had a Hulk.

That’s all a lot of fun, and it was a tempting narrative to grab a hold of, but you know what? It doesn’t matter a bit. The fact of the matter is that the Brewers have scored two runs in the last 17 innings between Games 4 and 5. Two runs, with one of them being an oh-by-the-way run with out in the ninth tonight. They’ve only scored three runs in their last 24 innings. They could have a college of coaches using a murder of pitchers and they’d still be staring at being down 3-2 like they are right now because the bats have gone cold.

The presumptive NL MVP, Christian Yelich, was 0-for-4 in Game 5 and is only 3-for-20 with three singles in the entire NLCS. Ryan Braun is 5-for-21. Lorenzo Cain is 6-for-24. Games 3 and 4 have, obviously, been the big problems for the Brewers. In those games the entire team is batting .168 with 26 strikeouts and they are 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

Craig Counsell could go back in time, bring back Pete Vukovich, Rollie Fingers, Teddy Higuera, Moose Haas and Jim Slaton, use them all for an inning and two-thirds each and it wouldn’t matter if the Brewers can’t score. That’s the story of the series so far. No matter how much we might want to talk about the pitching shenanigans, that’s the only thing that really matters.