Mike Moustakas starting second baseman for Brewers

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A month ago, when the Milwaukee Brewers signed Mike Moustakas, Craig Counsell said that they’d give him a look at second base. It was a surprising statement given that Moustakas hasn’t played a single inning at second base in his entire career and given that Travis Shaw, the Brewers’ third baseman for most of last season, played 39 games at second base after Moustakas joined the team in a midseason trade. The expected move was that Shaw would go to second and Moustakas would end up at his usual third base.

This is especially true given that hardly any established players move from a corner position to a middle infield position and even fewer do it for the first time when they’re 30 like Moustakas is. Utility guys maybe, but it’s not like Moustakas was even a superior third baseman. He was fine, but no one ever considered him a defensive whiz over there.

Yet, here we are. The early spring training experiment is going to continue into the regular season:

On the one hand I want to say that if such a move — an eight-year veteran moving left on the defensive spectrum for a contending team — had a great chance of success, it would’ve been more common in baseball history. On the other hand teams are obviously looking at defense in a far more granular way now than they used to and are thus able to rely far less on the “it’s not frequently done” prejudices and far more on data and positioning and all of that. The Brewers are not idiots, after all, and they want to win what might be the toughest division in baseball this year, so they wouldn’t do this if they didn’t truly think Moustakas could pull it off.

It’ll be fascinating to watch. 1987 Craig, who used to put square pegs in round defensive holes in order to maximize offense while playing baseball simulations on his Commodore 64, approves.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.