The coaching staff has now officially been finalized. Tim Bogar is the bench coach. Jerry Royster will take his place as the third base coach. Alex Ochoa is the first base coach. Dave Magadan will remain the hitting coach, and Gary Tuck will remain the bullpen coach. Our new pitching coach is Bob McClure. The Royals let him go after finishing in fourth place in their division last season, and then we hired him as a minor league instructor and special assignment scout. Obviously on the surface, this doesn’t exactly bode well. However, it’s worth mentioning that his professional profile is similar to John Farrell’s; like Farrell, he’s been a player as well as a coach, and he has a knack for evaluating talent. But by now I have learned how fruitless it is to delve analytically into anything that Bobby V. does before I actually see how it shapes up in action. Regarding McClure, I’m not sure I know what to think at this point.
We now officially have a closer, and it turns out that it isn’t Mark Melancon. Melancon will obviously be in the mix, but we traded first baseman Miles Head, right-handed pitcher Raul Alcantara, and, yes, even Josh Reddick to the A’s for outfielder Ryan Sweeney and, more importantly, Andrew Bailey. Bailey has a career 2.07 ERA and 0.95 WHIP with seventy-five saves and only nine blown saves in his three seasons in the Majors. He has been injured, which restricted him to less than fifty innings in his last two seasons. But because we expect him to own the ninth only, I don’t see a problem. The Bailey-Melancon one-two punch shows considerable promise. Like Paps, Bailey tends to induce his fair share of fly balls, so Melancon serves as a nice complement to that; in his career, Melancon has induced double the amount of ground balls as fly balls, and only three pitchers last season had a better ratio.
So, to put it lightly, he’ll do. Now let’s look at Sweeney. His hitting stats obviously don’t match up well with Reddick’s, but he’s got a solid OBP and he can play all three outfield positions, which we know is incredibly useful. However, I’m still not happy about that part of the trade because, while Sweeney has obvious upsides, he technically doesn’t even come close to Reddick. I mean, Reddick has the makings of a Major League superstar. Of course, we have to moderate that a little by accounting for the fact that he’s young yet and hasn’t seen much action relatively speaking, but still. I see this trade as addressing our short-term needs rather than considering our long-term needs. There is a time and place for doing so, but I’m not convinced that this was it. Again, we’ll have to wait and see. It’s important to remember that this is Ben’s team now, and he deserves a chance to prove that he has as much foresight as anybody.
Ryan Kalish will miss the start of the season; he just had surgery on his left shoulder to repair a torn labrum. In all likelihood, so will Jenks, who had another surgery.
The Yankees signed Okajima to a minor league deal; oh, how the mighty have fallen. The Cubs hired Bill Buckner as a minor league hitting coach. I hope Theo has fun with that. Incidentally, in case you didn’t notice, that was sarcastic.
In other news, the Pats have been on an absolute tear. We beat the Redskins, Broncos, Dolphins, and Bills. We’ll see if we can convert that into anything of note when it counts. The B’s have been similarly dominating; we beat the Habs, Panthers (eight-zip shutout), and Coyotes; we dropped our game against the Stars. We womped the Devils and Flames (seriously, a nine-zip shutout) and lost to Vancouver in a very eventful matchup in which Vancouver was obviously trying to make a statement. I’d say it was grasping; they may have beaten us by a goal, but the last time I checked, we are still the reigning Stanley Cup champions. The benches cleared, though. Five Canucks charged Shawn Thornton for defending a hit teammate, and then all the gloves dropped. Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault says we’re too physical, probably because the Canucks can’t match us. By the way, Milan Lucic did indeed take the ice legally on a line change.
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