Storylines: Rangers tab Banister as new manager
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: @AndrewIBI.
Here are the stories from Thursday, Oct. 16.
- The Rangers announced they hired Pirates bench coach Jeff Banister as their next manager. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports was the first to report the story. The Rangers interviewed a wide variety of candidates for the position following Ron Washington's abrupt resignation. Interim manager Tim Bogar and Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash were announced by the team as finalists in addition to Banister. However, Texas also interviewed internal candidates Mike Maddux and Steve Buechele, as well as the following external candidates: Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing and former big leaguer Alex Cora (who currently is an analyst for ESPN). Banister's hiring will be bittersweet for the Pirates organization, as while they're undoubtedly happy to see him receive the opportunity, the hiring will also bring to a close a tenure with Pittsburgh that has lasted 29 seasons. Banister was a 25th-round draft pick by the Bucs in 1986 and spent seven years with them as a minor leaguer (he also received one plate appearance in the Majors in 1991). Banister managed for five seasons in the minors with Pittsburgh and has also spent three seasons as the Major Legaue field coordinator and eight as a minor league field coordinator. He was named the team's bench coach in 2010 and also served as an interim pitching coach in 2008.
News and Notes:
- New Rays president of baseball operations Matthew Silverman told reporters, including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, that he has no plans to hire a GM. Silverman seems poised to head up the baseball ops department by himself, whereas former GM and new Dodgers president of baseball ops Andrew Friedman is reportedly on the hunt for a GM in a setup that will be similar to that of the Cubs (Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer) and the Marlins (Dan Jennings/Michael Hill). Silverman isn't expecting further changes to Tampa's scouting or player development departments, either.
- Even after Friedman left for the Dodgers, Maddon voiced his commitment to the Rays to reporters and said he expected to talk about an extension with the club. Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune was among the reporters on Wednesday to speak to Silverman and hear the newly minted head of baseball ops state that he expects his manager to be with the team in 2015 and beyond. However, Silverman stopped short of saying an extension would be done this winter. "We've been comfortable with Joe managing in the final year of his contract. It may not be ideal, but it's always a possibility," said Silverman. "...I hope we all wake up one day and you see that Joe's here even longer than he's signed for today."
- Following his team's exit from the postseason, Nelson Cruz repeated to reporters, including MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko, that he wants to return to the Orioles. Cruz said he loves both the organization and the team, but as Kubatko noted, he's sure to be looking for a sizable free agent deal after leading the Majors in homers this season and having to settle for a one-year, $8 million contract last winter.
- Though the Red Sox are known to be in pursuit of elite starting pitching this offseason, Alex Speier of WEEI.com wrote that perhaps they should be placing a more significant emphasis on improving the team's defense. Speier pointed out how superior both the Royals and Orioles were to the Red Sox in terms of defense and speculates that Shane Victorino's tremendous defensive upside is enough that those clamoring to trade him should rethink their stance. He also pointed out that the third base trio of Will Middlebrooks, Xander Bogaerts and Brock Holt combined to make 24 fewer plays than a league-average third baseman in 2014 before highlighting the strong defensive reputation of free agents Pablo Sandoval and Chase Headley.
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reported that the Twins have also interviewed Blue Jays bench coach Demarlo Hale. Hale's name had been mentioned speculatively previously, but this appears to be the first report of his concrete candidacy, let alone an interview.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote that Nick Markakis should be an offseason target for the Mets. While the Mets would like a corner outfielder that projects to have more power than Markakis, those are few and far between in this year's free agent class, and Marakakis' strong OBP skills and ability to grind out at-bats, could solve the team's need for a leadoff hitter. Sherman speculated that Markakis will be looking for something similar to J.J. Hardy's three-year, $40 million contract.
As much as I like Lonnie Chisenhall, I'm not banking on him as the long term solution at 3b. But if they believe he / or Urshela is than they should just add a complimentary piece at 3b. Otherwise, I think they should look for a big upgrade.
Both scenarios are unlikely to happen again next season even if the Tribe does nothing this offseason due to the improved pitching staff and the realigned defense with Santana at 1st and Ramirez taking over for Cabrera at short. I'm not saying they shouldn't do anything, but they may not need as much improvement as we think.
So we have two wild card teams in the World Series. The Royals had nobody with 20 or more HRs, and of their top 10 batters (in terms of plate appearances) only two had OPS+ numbers of over 100, the standard of measurement. In fact, only three players were in double digits for HRs. Oh yeah, their pitching was also a bit odd for a World Series team, with nobody having 15 or more wins. Kind of makes you pause about what the Indians need to be contenders based on where they are now.
Giants didn't have a significant power hitter either, with Posey at 22 and Pence at 20 being the only batters with over 16 HRs.