Storylines: Francona names Santana regular third baseman
In this MLB News and Notes segment, I will be giving occasional reports on the latest news and rumors throughout the MLB. I also will try to tweet news and rumors as I see them, so feel free to follow me on Twitter: @ajnicholsIBI.
Here are the stories from Tuesday, March 25th.
- The major news of the day came from Cleveland, when manager Terry Francona told reporters that Carlos Santana will be his regular third baseman, and will not be part of a platoon. Santana will also be the team's backup catcher. The decision to give Santana the job has forced incumbent third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall into somewhat of a bench role. Chisenhall could see time at both third base and DH, but he also mentioned that he will be ready to play anywhere, including the corner outfield.
- Francona also announced that Jason Giambi will be added to the 40-man roster and put on the Major League disabled list. Giambi, who suffered a fractured rib, will be eligible to come off of the DL on April 5th.
- In his final chance to prove he deserves a spot in the Cleveland rotation, Josh Tomlin logged 6.1 solid innings in a 5-0 loss to Texas on Tuesday. Tomlin surrendered four runs on seven hits and two walks, while striking out five. Nick Swisher and Elliot Johnson each had two hits, including a double each.
Others News and Notes
- Bruce Levine of 670TheScore.com reported that the Rangers have interest in acquiring Cubs backup catcher George Kottaras in the wake of the Geovany Soto injury. Buster Olney also tweeted that Texas may have interest in Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli. According to Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel, the Rangers have also been scouting Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks. Texas lost their starting second baseman Jurickson Profar for at least 10-12 weeks with a shoulder injury.
- The Pirates acquired starter Vance Worley from the Twins for cash. Worley was the Opening Day starter for Minnesota last season, but was outrighted to the minors last week.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Mariners want to find a right-handed bat and they may not trade coveted infielder Nick Franklin unless they get one in return.
- Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com tweeted that the Rangers are working on a deal with starter Scott Baker, who was released by the Mariners. Cotillo also tweeted that the Padres have signed Jeff Francoeur to a Minor League deal.
- Veteran lefty Randy Wolf asked for and was granted his release from the Mariners. Seattle had originally told Wolf he had made the team, but wanted him to re-do his Minor League deal to allow for a later opt-out date. Wolf didn't feel comfortable with the Mariners wanting to re-do his contract, so he instead asked for his release.
- The Phillies and veteran Bobby Abreu agreed to push his opt-out date back from Wednesday to this coming Sunday.
- Among the players who were released on Tuesday are: Ty Wigginton (Marlins), Ronny Cedeno (Phillies),Erik Bedard (Rays), Mike Gonzalez (Nationals), Matt Guerrier (Twins – re-signed with Minnesota on a Minor League deal), Endy Chavez (Mariners – re-signed Minor League deal with Seattle), and Chris Snyder (Nationals – signed Minor League deal with Texas).
So short of dealing for a bat, the move makes no sense,especially against LH pitching.
And while Bourn is out, one of Aviles/Johnson may be in OF replacing Morgan in the lineup (Morgan is a guy that probably should be platooned too).
Or lose the platoon advantage and play Murphy in right and have Raburn DH.
Or bat Chisenhall against lefties.
So you'll end up DHing a guy with a better glove to play your DH/back up catcher at third to gain what exactly?......Continuity?
I have to say that I felt a whole lot better about this lineup with Santana as the primary DH. But maybe I have an inflated view of Chisenhall's near-term upside. I will be surprised if he's sent down to AAA again, especially after his good spring.
Maybe Raburn is the primary DH and has a great year, but he's had a heck of a time staying healthy and is really only one year removed from what was a complete disaster of a season.
Also....am I the only one worried about how bad Santana will be behind the plate for the 40 or so games he plays this year? Was already one of the worst back there when he was focusing on the position...now his main focus is supposed to be on 3B....
And Chisenhall can certainly go to Columbus and prove some things. He needs to play everyday against left-handed pitching and really work on improving his performance in that area. And his defense needs work. The unfortunate reality is he just may be what he is right now, which is why he might end up as a corner utility guy in the future. But there is no reason to rush to that conclusion right now as he has an option remaining, can play third base everyday, and be a fallback if Santana struggles or gets hurt.
And there's nothing left to gain by sending Lonnie to AAA. Might as well see if he can help us as a Lefty PH, cuz his future in Cleveland is looking bleak.
Lonnie has hit AAA so sending him down does nothing. He may be another laporta?
Hope I'm wrong on Lonnie but I see a below avg major leaguer.
How is the focus no on playing 3B full-time? Thought that's the whole point of this experiment...to see if Santana can play there full-time?
In any case, I don't see how playing multi-positions is easier than focusing on just one position, even catcher. Agree the demands are different in Santana's case...the demand is actually greater. At least in Gomes's case he actually had MLB experience at 3B. You're asking Santana to learn a new position essentially on the fly...while batting cleanup. Just don't see how that is ok but batting your everyday catcher cleanup is frowned upon.
In any case....decision appears made. Josh Donaldson gives me hope for Santana's transformation to a 3B, though Donaldson also had experience at 3B prior to being thrown into the fire last year....he also didn't catch a game (and only caught 25 total in 2012)...
Interesting comment by Francona. Mentioned on here before that I wouldn't mind seeing Chiz get some time in the corner OF spots. He's more athletic than some give him credit for. Not expecting him to be a gold glover out there but could be a Michael Cuddyer-type that could play 3B, cOF, and 1B.
I absolutely hope you are right here Tony. But really worry that having him bat cleanup, start at a position he's never played in a big league game...AND catch 1-2 times a week is asking an awful lot. Seem to recall you saying it was a bad idea to play Gomes at 3B a few games a year as it was putting too much on a guy that needs to focus on catching....but yet having Santana do it and bat in a more critical spot is a good idea?
My hope is that this experiment does end up working out (would not be opposed to Santana being the 3B long-term) and that once Santana shows he can handle 3B defensively (something he hasn't come close to doing) the Tribe then gets a real backup catcher and takes away Santana's catchers mitt for good.
Small sample sizes...but Santana's bat in both winterball and spring training was less than overwhelming while learning the new position....really hoping this doesn't carry over into the regular season...
Regardless of how contrived his time share between the three spots is, it'll be easier than get pounded behind the plate every other day. Lonnie can split between third base, DH, and the bench. They're giving him a chance to prove himself without over committing to him. I like it.
I bet Raburn will gain a lot of at bats from Chisenhall's "demotion".
Chisenhall had a good spring and I hope that he will still get a good number of at bats...one thing this does do is take the pressure off of Lonnie. This kind of approach w young players is something we've seen Francona do before. He did a similar thing last year with Santana, refusing to bat him fourth and catch at the same time...still...?