One of the strangest things I’ve seen this offseason is the Red Sox, Orioles, and Blue Jays not trying to seal a deal with Jose Bautista, one of the outstanding offensive forces in the game in terms of power, OBP, and position flexibility.
Teams will regret passing on him. Bautista, available at a reasonable price tag for a hitter who strikes fear in pitchers, can change a lineup and has a chip on his shoulder after an injury-filled season.
Over 116 games, often not at 100 percent, he put up an .817 OPS.
The Blue Jays may want Bautista back, but the one-year deal they’re offering isn’t cutting it. Bautista wouldn’t mind staying, but he’s not going back for less than the $17.2 million qualifying offer he declined.
The Orioles are using the excuse that their fans resent Bautista after he’s spent the last nine seasons playing for a division rival, but seriously, don’t you think Orioles fans want Bautista hitting titanic shots out of Camden Yards? What a replacement he would be for the overpriced Mark Trumbo. One thing to remember about silly feuds: David Ortiz and David Price. Was there a problem when they became teammates?
Are the Red Sox really going to use the luxury tax as an excuse not to replace Ortiz and complete their roster? There’s no doubt that Dave Dombrowski is trying to do the right thing for his owners, but will the owners come to the conclusion that the offense is incomplete, or become convinced that Pablo Sandoval and Mitch Moreland can sufficiently replace the major league’s OPS leader and a future Hall of Famer?
The Red Sox don’t want to block the paths of Sam Travis and Rafael Devers, so it’s understandable they would want a short-term answer at DH.
Scoring runs is very important, obviously. Bautista would help replace Ortiz — they are both intimidating, middle-of-the-order hitters — and he can be used at the corner infield and outfield positions. Most baseball people we’ve talked to think Bautista would be an incredible fit for the Red Sox and Fenway Park.
HOPING FOR BENCHMARK
DiSarcina will follow examples
Former Billerica High standout Gary DiSarcina, Tom Glavine’s high school teammate, is John Farrell’s new bench coach. This is a huge, significant job. The Red Sox had a very good bench coach in Torey Lovullo, who is now manager of the Diamondbacks.
DiSarcina has plenty of experience with some younger Sox players, including Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, Steven Wright, and Christian Vazquez. He managed them to a first-place finish in Pawtucket in 2013, while the major league team was having a championship season.
“I think one of the things I’m going to work off of is the past jobs that I’ve had from special assistant to the general manager, infield coordinator, a low-level minor league manager, a Triple A manager, first and third base coach,” DiSarcina said.
“I can draw on a lot of those experiences. On the major league level, it’s being there for the players, John and the staff as well. Immediately it’s coordinating spring training. It’s a position you have to have skills for communicating and obviously, more importantly, listening.”
DiSarcina said he’d love to emulate the qualities he saw in Joe Maddon when Maddon was a bench coach for Terry Collins and Mike Scioscia in Anaheim, where DiSarcina played all 12 seasons of his major league career and where he coached the past three years.
“Joe Maddon was there for about seven years when I played,” DiSarcina said. “He’d be the person I’d probably try to draw my resources from and remember how he did things and how he approached it.
“One of Joe’s biggest strengths was to communicate and listen and be open-minded. At the major league level, a bench coach is all of those things. From standing in the dugout and giving the manager honest opinions about a situation whether you agree or disagree with him. Respectfully give your opinion.
“It’s building trust with John, trust with the players so the players feel they can come up to you as a staff member and know that it’s not going to be in a pipeline to John. That would be the death of my job. You have to have trust all around you. I look back on how Joe did his job as a bench coach and I really respected it.”
Lovullo fed Farrell analytics during the game. He offered opinions and dealt with the players and their issues before they made it to Farrell.
“You want that bench coach to be a conduit to the players and let the manager go manage,” DiSarcina said. “Your job is to put out brush fires before they occur, to be a sounding board for the players. Sometimes players just want to be heard and talked to. If I can be that person and allow John to have a half-hour to go do something else, whether it’s medical, front office, or the media, the ultimate goal is to take as many things off John’s plate as possible, to allow him to manage.”
DiSarcina had a long chat with Lovullo after he took the job.
“I talked to Torey after he got the job to congratulate him,” DiSarcina said. “He’s been on eight interviews. I feel really happy for him. I was here in 2013 as Triple A manager. I had a working relationship with John, Torey, and Brian Butterfield. I came up in September and I was exposed to how they did things, but being an outsider I wasn’t there for the daily grind and I’ve been away for three years. Things change. Some of the things they did in 2013 fundamentally maybe they don’t do now. So I’ve spent the last month or so going over things with John and going over the fundamentals.”
As for Scisocia vs. Farrell: “They have different [managing] styles,” DiSarcina said. “They’re really good as leaders. John comes from background being a farm director and he delegates really easy. He gives everyone a job description. Mike takes more of the responsibility on his own. They both won a World Series.”
MADE FOR MIAMI
Pagliarulo wants to hit on analytics
Mike Pagliarulo grew up in Medford loving the Red Sox, but he ended up playing for the Yankees after attending the University of Miami. So being named Marlins hitting coach has been somewhat of a homecoming. He’s replacing Barry Bonds.
Bonds made headlines last winter by returning to uniform after his controversial playing career. Bonds knew his stuff as hitting coach, but it became obvious the rigors of the job just weren’t agreeing with him. So manager Don Mattingly tabbed Pagliarulo, his old Yankee teammate.
Pagliarulo will bring analytics to his teaching approach. One of his bigger tasks is getting more consistency out of Giancarlo Stanton.
“The big thing right now is to get to know these guys,” said Pagliarulo, who last worked as a hitting coach in 2015, with Pittsburgh’s Triple A affiliate. “I’m heading out to California next week to spend some time with Stanton. I’ve seen a lot of video and now I need to get to know him to see what he likes, what questions he has about me, etc. When he’s right, he’s one of the most devastating hitters in the game.”
Asked whether it was daunting to replace Bonds, Pagliarulo said, “Well, I don’t really know Barry, so no, it doesn’t make me nervous or anything like that. I don’t know what effect he had with the hitters. I’m sure they’ll let me know.
“I think one of the problems has been that these guys have had a lot of hitting coaches. That’s one thing I can relate to with Giancarlo, because I had a lot of hitting coaches. I was also hit in the face [by a pitch] and Giancarlo was hit in the face, so I know about that.”
Pagliarulo said he will emphasize hitting with runners in scoring position. Pagliarulo thinks that’s more of a team concept that he’ll address in spring training.
As for being a hitting coach in the majors, Pagliarulo said, “My thought is, it feels like it’s where I belong. It’s one of my coaching goals.”
Apropos of nothing
1. Torey Lovullo feels his Diamondbacks team is ready to go. He wouldn’t be surprised if general manager Mike Hazen tweaks a couple of areas before camp. “Mike and his staff have done a great job putting together the pieces,” Lovullo said. “We had excellent pickups in Fernando Rodney and Taijuan Walker and Jeff Mathis, who are really going to help us.” The Diamondbacks likely need another back-end reliever, and there are still plenty in free agency. It appears Hazen will keep the majority of the team intact, including stars Paul Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke as well as Yasmany Tomas, who showed a lot of power last season. Some believe Tomas is best suited as a DH. The Diamondbacks did talk to the Red Sox about catchers Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez but were rebuffed, according to a major league source.
2. The Royals likely have one more go-around with free agents-to-be Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Lorenzo Cain. The Royals did acquire Jorge Soler from the Cubs for Wade Davis to protect the lineup in the future. Now they’re looking for a low-cost starting pitcher (they could wait out the Jason Hammel market), a reliever, and a utilityman. The Royals have some interest in bringing back Luke Hochevar, but are unsure when he’ll be able to return from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in August.
3. Great to see Zach Kapstein, a 24-year-old outfielder from Tiverton, R.I., hook on with the White Sox organization.
4. The Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation, founded by Dennis Gilbert, will hold its 14th annual awards dinner on Jan. 14 in Beverly Hills. This year’s honorees include Bo Jackson, Randy Johnson, Rachel Robinson, Dave Roberts, Louis Gossett Jr., and Red Sox scout Eddie Bane.
5. Old friend John Valentin has been a coach in the Dodgers organization for a few years but may sit out this season.
6. The Rays continue to look for a hitter. They had been linked to Jose Bautista but may not be willing to go multiple years at $17 million to $18 million per.
Updates on nine
1. Pedro Alvarez, 1B/3B/DH, free agent — Alvarez remains a viable lefthanded option, especially to the Orioles, who have maintained dialogue with agent Scott Boras. The Orioles like to sign free agents late, which is why there’s still hope for Jose Bautista there. GM Dan Duquette does a great job selecting the next big thing in the Orioles’ lineup. He did it with Nelson Cruz and Mark Trumbo. The Royals may have interest in Alvarez.
2. Brian Dozier, 2B, Twins — The Dodgers seem like the best trade partner, as they have the prospect package the Twins want in return. The best guess is Dozier stays put in Minnesota.
3. Jose Quintana, LHP, White Sox — The White Sox are still not getting the right vibe in trade talks on their prize lefty. They have been seeking a return package similar to what they got from Boston in the Chris Sale deal. The Dodgers, Cardinals, Rangers, Phillies, Astros, and Brewers could all make it happen. But right now, things are status quo on that trade front.
4. Matt Wieters, C, free agent — There’s still a market for the 30-year-old switch-hitter. There’s some sentiment in Atlanta for the former Georgia Tech star, but the Nationals could pick off the Beltway favorite. Don’t count out the Mets and Diamondbacks, either.
5. Mike Napoli, DH/1B, free agent — Napoli is a favorite in Texas and that reunion could happen sooner rather than later. The Orioles are also interested and Oakland and Boston have not been ruled out. Colorado is seen as a long shot.
6. Mookie Betts, RF, Red Sox — Gary DiSarcina spent three years with Mike Trout, who edged Betts for AL MVP. “They’re both game-changers in many different ways,” DiSarcina said. “Mike just amazes you every night with the things he does on a baseball field. I don’t have much history with Mookie, but playing against him, it’s an eye-opener. I know he hit a big home run against us and he hit some doubles off the wall. When you sit down and look at the numbers and compare them to Mike’s, they are so similar. It’s going to be fun being around Mookie because he’s a great guy.”
7. Doug Fister, RHP, free agent — Fister could be one of the next free agent pitchers to be signed. He’s coming off a decent season with the Astros (12-13, 4.64) on a one-year deal, but he fell apart in September (0-4, 11.74 in six starts). That has likely hurt his status. Fister could fill a back-end slot for a team such as the Royals.
8. Brett Anderson, LHP, free agent — Anderson was limited last season after back surgery, but at age 28 there’s some interest in being patient with his return. He’s a ground-ball pitcher and he’s had enough success — 10-9, 3.69 in 31 starts for the Dodgers in 2015 — to think he can rebound.
9. Todd Frazier, 3B, White Sox — While Chicago has received more interest in Jose Abreu, there have been “due diligence” phone calls on Frazier because of his righthanded power. Frazier had 40 homers and 98 RBIs last season. The White Sox would like to move him for a prospect or two, but the fact Frazier can be a free agent after next season may be holding back his market.
From the Bill Chuck files — “Bartolo Colon has lost a season worth of games in his long career; along with 233 wins, his 162 losses are the most of any active pitcher.” Also, “Last season, Marlins first sacker Justin Bour hit 15 homers, all against righties. Granted, he only had 30 PAs against lefties, but he had zero homers, zero walks, and 12 whiffs.” . . . Wish a happy birthday on Monday to Jeff Suppan (42) and David Cone (54).