Mining the News (1/11/21) by Jeff Zimmerman January 11, 2021 American League Mariners • Dylan Moore should get some playing time at second base. Dylan Moore’s 2020 breakout has warranted more playing time, Mariners manager Scott Servais said recently. And the clearest spot for the third-year utility man — who played every position except catcher from ’19-20 — is at second, where he played mostly after Shed Long Jr. was shut down on Sept. 12 with a shin injury. … “As we look forward, Dylan Moore had an outstanding offensive season. He really did,” Servais said. “And he plays all over the field. It’s a great strength of his and one that’s nice to have as a manager, where you can plug that guy in anywhere. I don’t want to take that away from Dylan. … We’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out, but Dylan has earned the right to get more regular time at second base.” I don’t think Moore is being drafted (106 NFBC ADP) with the intention of him being a part-timer. Shed Long (596 ADP) doesn’t have the fantasy impact (i.e. fewer home runs and stolen bases) of Moore but both are projected for similar real-life offensive production (Long: .691 OPS, Moore: .678 OPS). Moore is getting all the early love for several reasons. First, his 2020 season was better than Long’s (.855 OPS vs .533 OPS), but in 2019 the pair’s production was reversed (.691 vs .787). Second, Moore has shown in small samples that he can provide both power and speed in a Garrett Hampson sort of way. Finally, Long is coming off a season-ending injury but Moore also missed some time with a concussion. There are just so many moving pieces here to get a read on the situation. Moore did play some third base and outfield, so he could fill in elsewhere if Long locks down second. Also, Ty France is expected to DH, but he could move to second if both Moore and Long struggle. Moore provides a tidy stolen base solution for fantasy managers with his draft cost, but it comes with a huge downside. Tigers • Robbie Grossman is expected to play left field, JaCoby Jones in center, and Christin Stewart and Victor Reyes will split time in right. I like the signing of Grossman! What do you see as the distribution of time/roles in the outfield for the upcoming season? — @rob_bentz Expect Grossman to play just about every day in left field alongside JaCoby Jones in center. That pushes a crowd of candidates into a competition in right field, including Christin Stewart and Victor Reyes. First, here are the quartet’s projected OPS, career OPS versus right and left-handed pitchers, and ADP. Detroit Outfielders Detroit Outfielder Proj OPS OPS vs LHP OPS vs RHP NFBC ADP Robbie Grossman .755 .754 .721 446 JaCoby Jones .700 .612 .682 383 Christin Stewart .741 .653 .681 474 Victor Reyes .718 .676 .675 171 The information to focus on is that Reyes is expected to be splitting playing time but he is being selected the earliest. I’m sure fantasy managers are eye-balling the 26 career stolen bases in 724 PA and hoping for a repeat. With his OPS is projected to be 20 points less than Stewart’s, he could lose out on even half-time at-bats. While he might be useful in daily lineup leagues, he has little value in weekly leagues if the platoon holds. • The Tigers are considering a six-man rotation to manage the workload of their pitchers. General manager Al Avila told Dan Dickerson on the Tiger Talk radio program Thursday night that [Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal] will have a chance to compete for rotation spots in Spring Training, but that nothing is assured for either of them. Furthermore, Avila said the Tigers are considering a six-man rotation, either to open the season or to use in stretches as a way to help regulate the innings ramp-up from last year’s 60-game season to hopefully a 162-game slate this year. White Sox • Reynaldo López’s arm action was a possible cause for his lost velocity. Katz felt López’s arm action was getting excessively long and far away from his body and was possibly a significant culprit in the nearly 1.5 mph he lost on his average fastball in 2020, as well as the pedestrian action he had on it. This issue sapped his ability to manipulate and command his off-speed pitches consistently. But Katz wanted to emphasize that he and López have not engineered as radical of a change in arm action as you might imagine. There are some interesting trends with his fastball. While on BaseballSavant, his velocity was down 1.2 mph, the spin rate on it stayed the same (2137 rpm vs 2138 rpm). The higher spin rate may have kept the slower fastball higher in the zone and led to more home runs allowed (1.7 HR/9 to 3.1 HR/9). Additionally, he couldn’t keep his fastball in the strike zone with the pitch’s Zone% dropping from 59% to 51%. The loss of command pushed his walk rate up from 3.2 BB/9 to 5.1 BB/9. More walks and home runs led to his ERA to ballooning to 6.49. While, I’ll not bet on a return to 2018 (3.91 ERA, 1.27 WHIP), I will be checking up on his early-season performance for any positive changes. • Nick Madrigal expects to be ready by the start of Spring Training. That baseball work wasn’t too extensive, with Madrigal taking ground balls for the first time and then taking slow dry hacks with a short bat to get a feel for the motion. But Madrigal remains optimistic for being close to 100% healthy by the projected start of Spring Training on Feb. 17 and fully ready to go by the projected 2021 White Sox Opening Day of April 1 in Anaheim. “I do feel like I’ll be ready,” Madrigal told MLB.com during a phone interview from Arizona. “We are kind of planning on being ready before that, but it depends on how everything goes, especially when I start up baseball things and seeing if it’s stable, no setbacks at all. That’s a big possibility to be ready for Opening Day. National League Cardinals • Matt Carpenter plans to follow a new offseason program. “The last couple of years I’ve kind of been doing my own thing at my ranch. I have a gym there. By ‘doing my own thing’ I was doing what (guidance) the team was providing, as far as weightlifting and training,” Carpenter said. At the performance center, Carpenter said he can better work on “rotational (bat) speed and rotational power. My baseball functionality strength has gotten a lot better. … “Hitting is a rhythm and momentum type thing. We never got a chance to gather any momentum either individually or as a team because of the circumstances we were in. Doubleheaders every day. After having so much time off, nobody could really find a groove. I read this as “the team had me doing some drills and they aren’t working so I’ll try something else”. Also, he, rightfully so, blamed the Cardinals crazy 2020 schedule. In all fairness, he might just be done as seen by his production the past two seasons (.726 OPS in 2019, .640 OPS in 2020). Now, there could be a chance he rebounds to hit 25+ home runs with close to 180 combined Runs and RBI. I think he’s a fine late-round option in a waiver-wire league where he can be dropped if the new training program fails. Giants • The Giants may turn to Reyes Moronta as their closer. I think the Giants would love to have a reliever earn the closer job rather than have to rely on a committee like last year. They have a potential candidate in right-hander Reyes Moronta, who appeared to be the Giants’ closer of the future before missing the 2020 season while rehabbing from shoulder surgery. Manager Gabe Kapler said he and pitching coach Andrew Bailey have spoken with Moronta, who is listed at 5-foot-10, 265 pounds, and challenged him to come into Spring Training in peak physical condition and re-establish himself as a key late-innings weapon out of the bullpen. Nationals • The Nationals will consider using Tanner Rainey as their closer. Rainey, 28, had a breakout 2020 season. He posted a 2.66 ERA, 0.738 WHIP and 14.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 20 appearances, while leading the Nationals’ relievers in opponents’ batting average (.119) and on-base percentage (.213). Rainey made so much progress in his third Major League season, manager Dave Martinez said in September, “We’re looking at potentially our future closer.” Padres • Ha Seong Kim will play several positions in the field giving the other players some rest. General manager A.J. Preller on Tuesday said Kim’s initial focus will be some combination of shortstop, second and third — all positions the infielder played in his native country. Preller pointed out that teams will be going from 60 games last season to a much longer schedule. In 2021, depth — and regularly resting starting position players — could be more important than ever. The Padres are seeking to use defensive flexibility to their benefit. Kim acknowledged that his easiest fit in San Diego might be at second base. He also expressed a willingness to move around the field, to even try the outfield, to do whatever is necessary in the name of collective success. So, both Kim and the team will wait to see how his role evolves. Without an NL DH and if everyone healthy, there just aren’t enough lineup spots to go around. The Padres are getting to feel more and more like the Dodgers where it’s tough to count on full-time at-bats from anyone but just a handful of stars.