Monday, April 9, 2012
Clearing the bases: News and notes
By David Schoenfield
OK, we're going to start a new daily feature at the SweetSpot blog, sort of a quick news and notes section plus a Tweet of the Day.
First base: Fun with lineups. The Red Sox began the season with a $173 million payroll and Bobby Valentine had Nick Punto hitting leadoff on Sunday, he of the career .653 OPS and .325 OBP. This was really a one-time thing as Punto played in place of Kevin Youkilis. And, yes, he got three hits, but still an odd move. ... Dusty Baker has started with rookie shortstop Zack Cozart batting second and breaking up lefties Joey Votto and Jay Bruce by batting Scott Rolen or Ryan Ludwick fourth. Reds cleanup hitters hit just .245 with 19 home runs in 2011, ranking 27th in the majors in OPS. ... Jeff Samardzija had a dominating rotation debut for the Cubs on Sunday, taking a shutout into the ninth inning when he was still throwing 96 mph. He struck out eight and walked zero and while impressive, it does point to a potential issue with the Nationals' lineup. It's very right-handed, with Adam LaRoche, switch-hitter Danny Espinosa (who was much stronger from the right side in 2011) and Roger Bernadina (.304 career OBP) the only southside swingers.
Second base: Who is Hector Santiago? Apparently, the White Sox closer. The rookie left-hander was a 30th-round pick in 2006 but he throws in the low-to-mid '90s and uses a screwball, bringing back memories of Tug McGraw, another screwball-tossing lefty closer. A starter in the minors in 2011, choosing Santiago over Matt Thornton or more-hyped rookie Addison Reed certainly shows Robin Ventura's willingness to think outside the box and also an understanding that the seventh and eighth innings are just as important as the ninth.
Third base: The Mark Trumbo experiment. I wrote near the end of spring training that I had doubts about this working, considering that basically Enos Cabell has been the only player since 1950 to transition from first base to third base at the major league level. Trumbo has already made three errors. I still say Alberto Callaspo will get the majority of at-bats at third base.
Home plate: Tweet of the day.