Wednesday, October 24, 2018

#OldFriends (Infielders)

The Twins traded Eduardo Nunez to the Giants soon after he made the All-Star team in 2016. He was traded in midseason by the Giants to the Red Sox last year and is likely to be a free agent after the World Series. There is a team option, but I suspect the Red Sox will figure they can find a bench alternative they like more.

It's been a weird year for Nunez. He hasn't played all that well. His OPS+, a rough measurement of how productive his season was at the plate, was a career low, and his fielding has always been deemed subpar. But he still got more than 500 plate appearances for a 108-win team, so he couldn't have been holding the Red Sox back that much.

Alex Cora didn't fit the right-handed Nunez into the starting lineup against the left-handed Clayton Kershaw. He played the left-handed hitting Rafael Devers at third and right-handed Ian Kinsler at second. Kershaw was pulled in the fifth, and the Dodgers didn't use a lefty again until the seventh, when Alex Wood entered to face Devers with two on.

Except, as you probably know, Nunez pinch-hit and clubbed a three-run homer to break the game open.

Had Nunez started at third, it might have been Devers pinch-hitting for him in the seventh, but against a righty. Or, possibly, Devers might have replaced Nunez sooner, and the pinch-hit matchup might have disappeared.

Not a bad way to make his World Series debut.


Brian Dozier, seldom seen in the postseason for the Dodgers, was not only in the starting lineup for L.A. in Game One, he was the leadoff man. He drew a walk, he scored a run and he was unable to turn a critical double play pivot in the fifth inning.

The Dodgers obviously sought to load their lineup with righties against Chris Sale. They could have had someone like Chris Taylor, who led off for them throughout last year's postseason run, in the leadoff spot. I wonder if the fact that Dozier has three career homers off Sale entered into the decision to put him in the maximum at-bat spot.

I would think that the Dodgers analytics department is sharp enough to know that batter-pitcher matchup numbers aren't a reliable indicator. Dozier isn't the same hitter in October 2018 that he was when he hit those homers. And Sale probably isn't the same pticher right now, either.


Finally, a former Twins infielder who isn't involved in this year's Fall Classic. Eduardo Escobar reupped Monday with the Arizona Diamondbacks -- three years, $21 million.

That feels a bit light to me, but Escobar probably didn't want to get frozen out in the marketplace, as happened to a number of veteran free agents last winter.

The story on the signing says the D'backs don't have a specific position for Escobar right now, but his versatility gives them a variety of alternatives as they remake their roster.

Here's the thing: He's not quite as versatile as they apparently think. Age -- he turns 30 this winter -- has made him less playable at shortstop. His outfield experiences were rough enough that the Twins quit trying that pretty quickly. And supposedly he's not comfortable playing second base, although that might be his second-best fit (behind third base).

I had hoped to see Escobar return to the Twins, but he never actually reached the free agent market. 

No comments:

Post a Comment