Tag: Fred Lewis

Cincinnati Reds: Is It Time for Chris Heisey to Take Jonny Gomes’ Job?

Let me preface this article by saying that Jonny Gomes is one of my favorite players on the Reds.

I am wondering if being ‘unofficially’ awarded the left-field job prior to the start of camp hasn’t sapped the slugger of his hunger.

He is presently batting a woeful, team-worst .158 with 2 HR and only 5 RBI. With the outfield talent at camp this season, it would strike fear into me if I were Gomes.

Dave Sappelt, in his second spring with the club, is leading the team with 18 hits and a BA of .545 and an OBP of .556.

Chris Heisey, who is beginning his second season with the Reds, is batting .317, leads the squad with 4 HR and is second in RBI with 10.

Jeremy Hermida, who spent last year with the Red Sox and A’s, is batting .385 with 3 HR.

Fred Lewis, an off-season pick-up from the Blue Jays, is having the same trouble that Gomes is in terms of offensive production.

Gomes’ intangibles are extraordinary. He has more hustle than anyone on the team, and his leadership in the clubhouse helps make the team what it is.

He is a scrapper, a fighter and is unaccustomed to things being handed to him. It is what makes him hungry and what makes him who he is, a tenacious bulldog who will fight anyone for the next chew toy thrown anywhere near him.

I did not say that Dusty Baker had promised him the job. I said that it has “unofficially been awarded to him pre-camp. I am afraid that has ruined his spring performance.

With that being said, and I realize this is just spring training, Gomes is more than likely hearing the hoof beats of the young herd coming up behind him.

The Reds will host the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ball Park when the season begins a week from Thursday.

I can’t help but think if he doesn’t start hitting soon, he may be benched before the season progresses very far.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB: Gotta Love ‘Em: The 10 Best Bench Players Any Manager Would Love to Have

Managers always preach that the intangibles are what win games.  Simple things like running out a ground ball, hustling on a weak pop up, fielding a ground ball and stealing a base in a big spot are all things that a manager wishes everyone at his club could do.  Unfortunately, everybody can’t.  That’s why these players are so valuable.

I would first like to start with three players who, I feel, deserve some sort of recognition.  They failed to crack my Top 10, yet they are deserving of something. 

David Murphy (Rangers), Trevor Crowe (Indians) and Jamey Carroll (Dodgers).  Their respective managers can count on them to do whatever they ask.

Although a regular starter on the American League Champion Rangers last season, David Murphy figures to be relegated to a bench role this season.  The signing of Adrian Beltre has since shifted Michael Young to the full time DH position which leaves Murphy as the odd man out.  No big deal, though.  Manager Ron Washington will find ways to get Murphy into the game, whether it be for late game defense, a pinch hit, or even a pinch run.  Murphy is still a vital piece to the Texas Rangers.

Yeah, I know what you’re all thinking. Somebody on the Indians is useful?  Trevor Crowe is a player that almost any team would love to have.  Crowe can play any position in the outfield, and he can cover a lot of ground.  Not only is he fast, he is a go-getter.  Crowe runs out every ball he hits, and he never takes a break on defense. 

He was somewhat of a regular last season due to the injury to Grady Sizemore, and he performed pretty well in the full time role.  He hit a respectable .251 with 2 homers, 36 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases.  That kind of speed coming off of the bench this season will be a huge asset for the Indians in what looks to be another disappointing season.

Finally, Jamey Carroll.  Carroll played all over the field last season, appearing in 133 games for the Dodgers.  He played second base mostly, with appearances at shortstop, third base and even left field.  He put up a very respectable .291 average, with 23 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in just 351 at bats.  He may not have blinding speed, but he hustles and is as steady as a defender as they come.

And now, to the Top 10.  

Begin Slideshow

Genius: The Chronicles of Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous

Alex Anthopolous took over the General Manager position of the Toronto Blue Jays on October 3, 2009 from the publicly ridiculed J.P. Ricciardi. 

He inherited a team in complete disarray; the Jays had failed to reach the postseason since 1993, the same year that they defeated the Phillies in the World Series. 

Anthopolous has plans to change that, and he plans for it to change sometime around 2012.

The Jays have made headlines since the hiring, due in large part to great free-agent signings and trades. 

Anthopolous began his flurry of transactions in November 2009 with the resigning of the sure-handed John McDonald. 

The next day, he signed veteran shortstop Alex Gonzalez.  Gonzalez proved to be worth more to the team later on in the season when the trade deadline was approaching.

In December, Anthopolous began to restock a depleted farm system.  He pulled off a major blockbuster, sending ace Roy Halladay to Philadelphia for three top prospects in catcher Travis d’Arnaud, right hander Kyle Drabek, and outfielder Michael Taylor. 

Taylor was then sent to Oakland for highly touted third base prospect Brett Wallace.  Wallace was later sent to the Astros for outfielder Anthony Gose. 

To cap off a busy day for Anthopolous, he signed veteran backstop John Buck to a one-year deal.

This was just the beginning, however. 

Later on in the month, the Jays sent fireballing reliever Brandon League to the Seattle Mariners for another fireballer, Brandon Morrow.  Morrow, although inconsistent, gave the Jays another young arm to add to their already young staff. 

After a quiet January, Anthopolous brought in veteran reliever Kevin Gregg to close games.  This capped off a busy first offseason for Anthopolous.

Early on in the 2010 season, Anthopolous signed Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to a four-year, $10-million contract.  Hechavarria figures to be a large part of the Jays’ potential successes in 2012. 

Anthopolous acquired Fred Lewis from San Francisco a few days later.  Lewis became a spark plug at the top of the Jays lineup. 

He hit a modest .262 in 2010, with 8 homers, 36 RBIs, and 17 stolen bases.  Toronto chose to let him walk after the season, however, allowing him to sign with the Cincinnati Reds.

In July, Alex Gonzalez proved his true worth to Toronto.  He was sent to Atlanta for right hander Jo-Jo Reyes and shortstop Yunel Escobar. 

Escobar seemed to be wearing his welcome out in Atlanta, and Anthopolous took advantage of this by trading for him while his value was relatively low.  The youth movement in Toronto was continuing to take shape.

Anthopolous began his second offseason by acquiring catcher Miguel Olivo from Colorado and outfielder Rajai Davis from Oakland. 

Anthopolous completed two trades with the Brewers in as many days, first acquiring Carlos Villanueva in exchange for a player to be named later, and then trading ace Shaun Marcum for highly touted prospect Brett Lawrie.

2011 began with the low-risk, high-reward signing of relievers Octavio Dotel and Chad Cordero.  But, Anthopolous’ made his most genius move to date a little over a week ago. 

Anthopolous traded the highly overpaid and notorious free swinger Vernon Wells to the Angels for catcher Mike Napoli, a free swinger in his own right, and outfielder Juan Rivera.  Nobody is quite sure how he managed to unload such a contract, but he did it.

Napoli has since been shipped to Texas for reliever Frank Francisco.  Although many will say that Napoli would have had more value to Toronto than Francisco does, we have to remember:

Anthopolous essentially received Francisco and Rivera for Wells, a player who was holding the team back from spending big on free agents.  The money freed up by trading Wells will only help Anthopolous reach his goal.

The Jays figure to contend in the near future when prospects like Drabek, number 12 on MLB.com’s list of the Top 50 prospects, Gose, Hechavarria, and Lawrie, number 28 on the list, hit the majors. 

Without the genius of Alex Anthopolous, the Jays would not be in the position they are today, a position that has Jays fans waiting anxiously for 2012.   

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Can Fred Lewis Fill the New York Mets’ Fourth Outfielder Void?

The Mets just signed Chris Capuano and Taylor Bucholz to add some more depth to the pitching rotation. Both of these are solid signings and may pay off in big ways.

Capuano is only a few years removed from an 18-win season, and Bucholz has shown he can be a valuable seventh, or even eighth inning reliever.

For the most part, barring a rumored Chris Young or Jeff Francis signing for further insurance and maybe looking at some left-handed relievers, the pitching staff appears to be filling out.

It is now time to turn to the bench. The starters, besides second base, seem set, and even the players in competition for second base are already in house.

The bench depends a lot on who wins the second base job. Most likely, the runner-up in the competition will stick around to be the utility infielder. But as of now, there is a void in the fourth outfielder slot.

Before he established himself as a starter last year, Angel Pagan was the epitome of a fourth outfielder. He could play all three positions and play them well. He brought great energy whenever he started and was a valuable late-inning defensive replacement.

Also, his speed made him perfect for the role. He could pinch run, steal a base and then remain in the outfield without losing that much. He was a solid contact hitter with a decent eye as well.

But now that he will be playing either right field or possibly center field this season, who will fill the role that Pagan played prior to last season?

Endy Chavez was available this offseason but signed a minor league deal to return to Texas. He has had injury troubles the last few years, but I would have liked to see him back in a Mets uniform. He can run, bunt and has the potential to be one of the best defenders in the game (remember that catch?).

A name that has popped up is Fred Lewis, currently of the Toronto Blue Jays. He saw significant action last year and played rather well. In 110 games, he hit .262 with eight HR, 17 SB and 70 runs scored.

The Blue Jays acquired speedster Rajai Davis from the Athletics this offseason and look to have a set outfield with Davis, Vernon Wells and Travis Snider. The need for a fourth outfielder in the AL is not as great as in the NL.

Lewis reminds me a lot of Pagan. He has good speed, plays good defense, has a little pop and plays better when given more opportunities.

Though the current Mets outfield should hopefully produce and not need too many days off, an injury is bound to occur. Carlos Beltran hasn’t played a full season since 2008, Jason Bay is coming off an injury and last year was Pagan’s first full season.

Lewis would be able to fill in nicely should an injury occur. However, that would only be a temporary solution, unless of course Lewis plays like a stud.

If one of the starting outfielders goes down long term, I would rather see Lucas Duda or, dare I say, Fernando Martinez get the bulk of the duty.

Fred Lewis would make a solid addition for this team and fill a very important hole for an NL ball club.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Who Told You So? Burrell, Posey Help; Bowker & Co. Could Not

Offering opinions in print, particularly on the Internet, curses the writer to be haunted by his opinions forever.

Oh, it must be nice to be in the electronic media where you can offer an opinion and have it just disappear into thin air.

It’s hard to deny having opined that the San Francisco Giants would finish 75-87 once the opinion appears in print. Say it on TV or radio and … “Well, I mentioned that they COULD potentially finish 75-87, but I think I made a bit larger point and, really, I’m not surprised to see them in the thick of the NL West race.”

When a writer offers a suggestion that might help the club or offers an opinion of how the club operates, it mostly comes back to haunt the writer.

Here’s to the suggestions and opinions mentioned here that turned out to be on the money. It’s rare to predict what will happen, then see it actually take place.

It’s time to celebrate.

To the folks who threw metrics and Bruce Bochy’s unwillingness to stick with young players at me—note that John Bowker is back in the minor leagues, and that Nate Schierholtz lost his right field job to Aubrey Huff.

It was written here that the Giants had to sell the importance of playing defense in AT&T Park, when Randy Winn wasn’t hitting and the club needed to justify keeping him in the lineup. Huff hasn’t done anything wrong in right field and, frankly, how many games have turned on misplaying a carom in right field over the last 10 years?

So, yeah, Bowker’s back tearing up Triple-A and Schierholtz is batting barely .100 in his last 40 at-bats or so. He’s a pinch-runner and late-inning defender. The hitter got the gig in right field—Huff.

I’m not the type guy to say, “I told you so,” but …

And, is that Pat Burrell in left field? The guy who was too old (at 33) and a complete defensive liability? The guy who flopped in Tampa Bay in the American League, who was supposed to be the single worst free agent signing the Giants could make with all those promising young outfielders?

Wait, I am that type of guy!

I told you so!

Burrell’s hitting .341 entering Wednesday’s game for the Giants. He’s slugging .614 with three home runs. He’s the big, strong guy who works the count and, apparently, doesn’t play left fielder as though he has two left feet.

Well, after I was run from my suggestion that Eugenio Velez play full-time, people were insisting that there was no reason to claim Burrell off the scrap heap. Velez and Andres Torres—and Bowker—deserved a shot in left with Mark De Rosa out.

Oh, it’s fun being right!

The first piece that I wrote here mentioned that Bowker, Kevin Frandsen, and Fred Lewis were completely without value.

Frandsen’s bounced from the Red Sox to the Angels. He’s doing well for the Halos, but there’s no place for him in the Giants lineup anyway.

Lewis had those who blame Brian Sabean for the sun rising in the east chirping when he was hitting and doing some things for the Blue Jays. Then, he misplayed a gapper and dropped a fly ball that killed Toronto when San Francisco was up there over the weekend.

Did I mention that Bowker took his .200 big league batting average to go rip up Pacific Coast League pitching?

Being me isn’t bad. Not bad at all. (Until I call for Eric Hacker to get the No. 5 rotation spot and he gets shelled).

And, it seems as though I mentioned that the Giants would benefit from recalling Buster Posey and putting him at first base…or anywhere that his bat would be a benefit to a struggling attack. He started with a bang in San Francisco, has fallen off some—but, clearly, people who got the vapors over the notion of the Giants catcher of the future not catching everyday in the minors have realized—they were wrong.

That would make me…right. Right?

Tim Linecum’s dead arm isn’t dead. The symptoms indicating Tommy John Surgery might be in order have disappeared. Lincecum’s winning, pitching well, like he will win and pitch well for as long as he’s in the big leagues. And, for the dead-arm theorists, he hit 94 mph on the radar gun on Tuesday.

Who told you so?

Oh, right…I did!

In lieu of laughing out loud at know-nothings who called second baseman Freddy Sanchez a malingerer, I’ll be kind and admit that I was as right about him returning to star as I was wrong about whether the Giants could win with Juan “Big Poppa” Uribe at shortstop.

I don’t know everything. In fact, I know very little. When I manage to write down things in advance that turn out later to be true, well, a guy likes to crow sometimes.


Ted Sillanpaa is a Northern California sports writer and columnist. Contact Ted at: tsillanpaa1956@gmail.com.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Toronto Blue Jays Off Day Notebook

The Blue Jays have Monday off as they get a chance to catch their breath during a brutally tough stretch in the schedule. Over the weekend, the Jays took two of three from the Yankees and nearly pulled off the sweep. But thanks to another less than impressive showing from the ‘pen, the Jays had to settle for splitting their six home games with the Rays and Yankees.

The Jays will get another shot at the first-place Rays with a three game set down in Tampa Bay. Checkout the pitching pairings for the series here. With the night off, here are a few non-draft related notes to hold you over until tomorrow night:

Fred Lewis’ Vanishing Walk Rate

Since coming over from the Giants, Lewis has put together a good offensive season so far. He’s bounced back nicely from last year’s disappointing showing in which he hit just .258 and saw his isolated power drop to a pedestrian .132. This year, he’s got some pop in his bat with a .192 ISO to go along with his .291 batting average. Already, he’s gone deep four times in 195 plate appearances after hitting only four bombs last season in 336 plate appearances.

The only glaring deficiency has been his 4.6 percent walk rate, well below his career mark of 9.3 percent. That has held his on-base percentage to a slightly below average .325. Lewis’ struggles could largely be attributed to his chasing of pitches outside the strike zone. Last year he offered at just 19.1 percent of pitches outside the zone, well below the league average of 25.1. This year he’s offered at a staggering 30.9 percent of out of zone pitches, almost one out of every three.

The Brandon Morrow Experience

The bullpen’s collapse on Sunday cast a shadow over Morrow’s outstanding outing against the Yankees. That outing, combined with his previous start against Tampa Bay, were his best two back to back starts this year—against two of the best teams in the league no less. Combined he went 14 innings, allowing just seven hits and two earned runs. He went seven innings in each start, the first time he’s lasted for seven innings or longer in two consecutive outings this year.

It also marked his third straight start without yielding a home run. Most importantly for Morrow, he only walked three batters across the two starts. And after getting just one strikeout against the Rays, he bounced back and set down eight Yankees by way of the K.

His ERA still sits at 5.48, but he’s kept his FIP (3.68) in check. The FIP has remained low despite walking 4.92 batters per nine innings thanks to his .70 HR/9 IN. The 74 strikeouts in 64 innings has helped as well. He might never be a control pitcher but if he can keep striking out a batter or more an inning and keep the homers to less than one per nine innings he will be successful.

Pumping the Brakes on Brett Wallace

Don’t worry, Brett Wallace is good and is most likely going to continue to be good. But he’s cooled off lately for Triple-A Las Vegas as he has seen his batting average drop down to .270. According to StatCorner.com , his 99 wOBA+ puts him as just a league average hitter in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League. His non-adjusted wOBA has dropped from .378 last year with Sacramento to .357 in 2010.

It isn’t all bad for Wallace though. After hitting 20 homers in 532 at-bats last year he has 11 already in just 222 trips to the plate. His walk rate and isolated power have also increased over last year’s numbers.

This isn’t a big cause for concern in the long run for the Jays or Wallace but it is reason enough to give him some more time at Triple-A. The best case scenario would be to wait for him to heat up before being recalled. The more confidence the young man has upon his promotion the better.

Be sure to check back to Bleacher Report tomorrow to see Jeff Wahl’s initial thoughts on the Blue Jays’ early round draft selections. The Jays have several picks in the first couple rounds of new GM Alex Anthopoulos’ first draft experience.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

San Francisco Giants in the Brian Sabean Era: Fred Lewis Says It All

Sooner or later, the revisionist sharks will begin circling one of their favorite pieces of bait, San Francisco Giant general manager Brian Sabean.

My guess is that they’ve already started and the first bite is only a matter of time.

For whatever reason, there’s always a strong chorus of anti-Sabean sentiment heard rumbling in the background of the Bay Area. Despite being the longest tenured GM in Major League Baseball and steering Los Gigantes through some of their most prosperous days since moving to the City, the bellyaching never fails to start at the first sign of trouble.

It doesn’t matter if San Francisco is enjoying a good season overall or if the club is beating industry-wide expectations, heaven forbid they should lose a couple games in a row or fall into an extended hitting slump (as all professional teams eventually do).

Worse yet, let one of Sabean’s acquisitions falter or a player he shipped away catch fire.

Then the cheap shots—conveniently aimed using hindsight—start flying with abandon.

Well, it’s time to get your abandon ready because Sabean’s latest maneuver is superficially backfiring.

On the surface, it looks as if the decision to jettison Fred Lewis to the Toronto Blue Jays for future considerations might become one of Sabes’ biggest blunders in recent memory.

His skeptics will tell you that’s quite an accomplishment in the wrong direction.

They’ll point to the raw data and leave out the inconvenient details. Instead of telling the whole story, the second-guessers will cite his .284 BA, .323 OBP, .457 SLG, .780 OPS, 19 R, 12 2B, and 13 RBI in 28 games with Canada’s lone Major League rep as definitive proof that the Giants need new leadership.

The only problem is that their line of reasoning is complete and utter trash. Other than that, though, they’ve got an argument.

Part of the problem is driven by the increasing obsession with fantasy sports and the numerical fascination it engenders. Some amateur Sabermetricians will tell you that OPS is the only thing that matters. If the ballplayer is getting on base and hitting for good power, the most significant bar for playing time has been cleared.

Consequently, the rallying cry for Fast Freddy was always “look at his OPS, look at his OPS.”

That’s fine and all in the fantasy world, but real-world baseball must consider other minor facets of the game like situational hitting, developing baserunning acumen if it’s not instinctual, and…what was that last one?

Oh yeah, defense.

Somewhere in there, the argument for keeping Lewis in a Gent uniform disintegrates into trace vapors.

One detail the anti-Sabeans will be sure to omit is that Fab Five Freddy has whiffed a staggering 35 times against five walks in 125 plate appearances. I can’t blame you if you don’t like fractions, so I’ll do the heavy lifting—that’s more than one K in every four trips to the dish.


No Big League manager can trust a guy who fails to make contact that often in a situational at-bat.

Of course, the situational stuff matters less when your lineup boasts a designated hitter and is near the top of the MLB leaderboards for most offensive categories. Both apply to Toronto while neither applies to the Orange and Black.

In other words, the 29-year-old left fielder fits the American League profile much better than he does the National League’s. He most certainly won’t work in an offense that relies on manufacturing runs as San Fran’s must.

There’s also the matter of Fast Freddy’s baserunning—you’ll notice he’s swiped three bases and been caught twice.

That shouldn’t happen, not with Lewis’ speed. He simply doesn’t run the bases well; he doesn’t get good jumps and he doesn’t read the ball of the bat. The otherwise glaring deficiency is masked by an impressive natural gift.

Again, this is a minor flaw in an otherwise dangerous asset.

Again, these minor flaws become debilitating in a mediocre-to-anemic batting order.

Nevertheless, the most crippling weakness demonstrated by Fred Lewis during his time with the Giants was his inability to bring his jaw-dropping athleticism to bear in the field. I can promise you the same people who will want Sabean’s head for exiling Lewis were making the same request in a blue streak whenever Freddy would author one of his patented butcher-jobs in left.

Ah, but the Toronto version of Lewis has been perfect to date with the leather.

Wonderful, maybe the Rogers Centre is an easier field to play and Freddy really isn’t that bad a gloveman. Even if this is the case, it doesn’t change the reality that he obviously couldn’t handle the more treacherous green of AT&T Park despite numerous chances.

Regardless, the real trump card applies whenever a player changes teams.

Often, it’s simply the novel scenery that revitalizes a career.

Either the dude is a square peg in a round franchise or merely can’t relax until the slate of past performance has been wiped clean by a move to a new location with a new fanbase.

Nobody likes to hear that because it’s, as yet, impossible to verify or explain with any degree of certainty.

Yet it’s been demonstrably true over the game’s history.

Fred Lewis is the phenomenon’s latest example.

And it’s not Brian Sabean’s fault.




Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress