Tagged: Jose Abreu

Many Happy Returns: Finally, Some Players Make it Back!

If there has been one overarching theme to the 2014 MLB season so far, it’s been players missing time. Whether it’s been because of (asinine) draft pick compensation rules, attending the birth of one’s child (goodness me was that David Murphy-related ‘controversy’ farcical), or as in the vast majority of cases, due to injury, far too many players have been off the field, their absences spoiling the game we all love.

The month of June is off to a promising start however. After the spate of Tommy John surgeries necessitated in April and May, as far as I’m aware, we’ve now gone three days without one being announced (It’s my understanding that Chris Withrow of the Dodgers was the last player to have been announced as going under the knife). Even better, a host of players are making their returns this week – all carrying some relevance. Let’s break them down quickly;

Stephen Drew, who was only absent by his own/Scott Boras’ doing after turning down a qualifying offer over the winter, finally made his season debut for Boston last night, going 0-2 with a walk in a defeat to the Cleveland Indians. Having played in the minors since May 21st having finally signed a pro-rated contract for around $10 million this year, the left-handed Drew batted eighth in the Red Sox lineup and instantly slotted in at shortstop, pushing Xander Bogaerts to third base, and  with both Mike Napoli and Mike Carp out, the surprisingly effective Brock Holt across the diamond to first. While there were certainly more ideal landing spots out there (Detroit have a more glaring need, and less infield competition), landing back in Boston can only be considered a good thing for Drew. Sure, he probably could have gone to the Mets, but their stinky offense and the Wilpon Quagmire of Financial Despair (H/T to Jonah Keri) would likely have ensured a less than happy tenure in Queens. He won’t be anything special for the Sox, but in need of some stable production, he’ll fill a role nicely – the same attitude with which he should be approached in terms of fantasy pick-ups. He’ll be a stable middle infielder, a low-upside, high-basement type, perfect for a team ravaged by injury or simply short of middle infield depth. Just don’t expect Drew to be a savior, both in reality or fantasy.

Jose Abreu on the other hand, woah boy. This fellow’s return might be make-or-break for your fantasy squad. After two weeks on the disabled list and a couple of simulated games at U.S. Cellular Field, the Cuban slugger, who even after being out since May 18th still led the White Sox in home runs (15) and RBIs (42), was activated in time for the start of a three-game set against L.A. at Dodger Stadium. With no DH hole to be stashed in, Abreu jumped right back into the thick of things playing first base, and picked up where he left off at the plate, muscling out a two-run shot off of Clayton Kershaw in his second at-bat, Chicago’s only runs of the game. And this was after being struck in the chest by an overthrown ball while stretching during pre game warm-ups! The Sox have been treading water without him, but with the AL player of the month for April back in the mix, they could yet put a run together in the disastrous AL Central for second-place behind Detroit. He should immediately be back in fantasy starting lineups too, though it will be worth paying attention to whether he perhaps gets a day of rest from playing the field at some point in this interleague series.

– Elsewhere, Josh Hamilton is slated to make his return to the Angels lineup today in a game against the Astros, in which first base prospect and recent contract signee Jon Singleton will also be making his debut for Houston. Hamilton has been out since April 9 with a torn ligament in his left thumb having (rather rashly) slid into first base headfirst, but was hitting .444 with two home runs in the tiny sample size prior. His return will likely spell trouble for the 42-year-old Raul Ibanez, who has been god-awful in 2014, though I’d be concerned if you were starting him in your league anyway. Hamilton should probably reside on your bench for at least a couple of days while you evaluate his return; thumb injuries can be tricky, and Hamilton is prone to streaks even when fully healthy. Resting him is probably the safe play, unless you don’t have any other viable outfield options. Of course, slotting Mike Trout straight back in after he missed Sunday’s game with back stiffness is a no-brainer.

– Stay away from Yordano Ventura though! After a disastrous May 26th outing in which his velocity noticeably dropped and he was forced to exit in the third inning, the 23-year-old flamethrower dodged the Tommy John bullet and was instead diagnosed with  “lateral elbow discomfort.” After successfully completing a bullpen session, Ventura will be thrown back in on Thursday to face the Cardinals in the Battle For Missouri. In addition to his prior inconsistency, not only do I dislike the match-up, but I’m worried about Ventura’s long-term outlook; elbow injuries don’t normally solve themselves this quickly, especially ones which cause such an appreciable velo decline. Though he’s officially returning, don’t be surprised if Ventura heads straight back to the trainer’s room in a month or so.

Aramis Ramirez is back in the Milwaukee lineup tomorrow after sustaining a strained left hamstring on May 13. He’ll be able to DH too, given how the Brewers are visiting Target Field for an interleague series. A notorious slow starter, Ramirez should be a more than viable third base option the rest of the way should he avoid re-aggravating that hammy… Andrew Cashner, after an elbow scare, is scheduled to rejoin the Padres’ rotation on Saturday against the Nationals. Unless you’re in absolute need of gaining ground over the weekend however, it’s probably best to let this one play out with the hard-throwing righty on your bench however… Ryan Zimmerman should be appropriately settled back in to the Washington lineup by then – the 29-year-old has been cleared to return on Tuesday after breaking his thumb on April 12th. Where he’ll play however, remains intriguing; the right-hander has been playing left field during his rehab stint at Potomac, so Ryan Zimmerman: ML Outfielder might be a thing now… In obligatory Reds news, Joey Votto (quadriceps) is nearing a rehab assignment, and Mat Latos threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings in his latest Triple-A start. He should be back next week.

Oh God why?! Making sense of the weekend injuries

Boy, the baseball Gods are in a vengeful mood this year. Anyone have any idea what has upset them? It’s evidently not Yasiel Puig‘s bat-flips like some of the old curmudgeon sports writers would have you believe – he’s still standing after all. Still, they’re smiting down other young, exciting, and crucial players at a depressingly prolific rate right now. It’s getting ridiculous – just ask the poor Texas Rangers, who can barely cobble together a starting rotation anymore. Is there a player we can send as some sort of sacrifice offering to appease them? No one would miss Josh Lueke I’m guessing – probably not even the Rays. Fine, too drastic a measure. Until you come up with something better to end the madness though, here’s a quick rundown of some of the more important figures who were sidelined over the past weekend, and a reason perhaps why the higher powers don’t want them taking the field.

In the case of Gio Gonzalez, the logic of the Gods is easy; in a year in which nearly every team has a starter missing from the rotation, why should one team allowed to be fully healthy? Boosted by the return of Doug Fister (who turned in a very nice seven innings of one run ball in his second start last Thursday), the Nationals had all of eight days with a fully healthy starting staff before Gio Gonzalez was given the special treatment. After being rocked for 7 earned runs in just 4.1 innings in his previous start against the Athletics, Gio was once taken behind the woodshed on Saturday, allowing 5 runs to the Mets of all offenses, lasting just 3 innings to boot. After telling the club he was struggling to find any consistency with his arm slot – a precursor for shoulder trouble – he was given an MRI on Sunday morning. The results came back negative however, so for now the 28-year-old lefty is only on the 15-day DL with slight shoulder inflammation, joining the likes of Bryce Harper, Adam Laroche and Ryan Zimmerman in watching from the bench.

It’s dubious exactly why, but poor Will Middlebrooks seems to have had the worst of injury luck in his young career. Maybe his two trips to the DL already this year are a form of karmic retribution for taking Jenny Dell away from us on NESN Red Sox broadcasts, but permitting a sixteen-year-old to take her to prom should surely make up for something. Anyhow, after seeing his promising rookie year cut short by a wrist fracture caused by a HBP, suffering through torn cartilage in his rib cage and lower back problems in 2013, and then injuring his calf earlier this year, Middlebrooks will once again be making himself comfortable in the Boston training room for a while after sustaining a non-displaced fracture of his right index finger during Saturday’s game against the Tigers. Ian Kinsler‘s scorching line drive apparently left the digit bent and discolored, and it will now be immobilized in a split for the next five to seven days. No return timetable has been set of yet, but batting .197 at the moment, maybe Middlebrooks needed some extended time off anyway. He gets to spend more time with Jenny now too, so it can’t be all that bad.

Oh, Andrew Cashner… My fingers are sincerely crossed that you aren’t the next young, hard-throwing pitcher to have caught the Tommy John plague, but I’m very concerned. You’ve tempted fate all year with that  2.35 ERA, 143 OPS+ and 2.76 K/BB ratio; we should have learnt by now that as baseball fans, we aren’t allowed nice things (see Harvey, Matt last year). So of course, with the Padres looking like coming around somewhat, the Gods were going to pick you next to reminds us of our cruel mortality. It would have been Nate Eovaldi, but that dreadful mullet you sport, and the fact they’ve already taken Jose Fernandez from the Marlins this year, swung it in your (dis-)favor. Hopefully your sore elbow will require nothing more than the 15-day DL stint set out for you, but with a history of injuries (albeit shoulder ones), you’re not giving us much reason for hope here.

Seriously though, why did you have to take down Jose Abreu though – is leading the major leagues in home runs as a rookie not sacred anymore? I can understand wanting to get Paul Konerko some extra playing time in his final year, but wouldn’t just Abreu having a tight back for a couple of days be sufficient? Instead, it had to be posterior tibia tendinitis in the ankle, a nagging injury that will likely plague the 27-year-old all year long rather than heal completely during his short time on the disabled list. Do you know how important the back foot achilles is to power hitters? Just look at Ryan Howard (though he wasn’t great to start with). Is this all some part of a weird Cuban vendetta? First it was Aroldis Chapman taking a liner to the head, then Fernandez, and now this.

Maybe Puig should be looking out for himself after all…

Bat-Flip Royale: #VivaPuig, Marte Party, and everyone else…

It’s only May 5th, but believe it or not, this post marks the third installment already in which I’m having to detail the contenders vying for a coveted spot in the end-of-year Bat-Flip Royale – there’s just been that many early season efforts worthy of attention. Don’t get me wrong, the sheer quantity is certainly appreciated, but for all you MLB players out there, don’t forget a single instance of quality can get you a shot at the belt. You don’t have to do all your outrageous pimping before Memorial Day. That said, you can do some – I’m looking at you in particular Bartolo Colon

I understand that you’re new to this whole ‘pitchers have to bat too in the National League’ lark, but Bartolo: generally you drop the bat even if you’re just running out a routine grounder. You don’t need any extra weight to be carrying down the first base line, nor will you running off with the lumber mean you won’t have to bat again. Teams have plenty of bats to share.

I’d like to use this opportunity to throw some further shade too, and call out the otherwise-sensational Jose Abreu. As I detailed last week, the Cuban rookie has got off to a tremendous start at the dish, setting records left, right, and center by virtue off his blasting home runs, well, to left, right, and center field. But despite having 11 jacks and considerable reason for some swagger, this is the best flip we’ve seen from Chicago’s new first baseman:

Step it up already Jose – some guys are putting in work when they don’t even hit it out after all.

It seems every time Tampa Bay and the Yankees meet, old bat-flip hand Alfonso Soriano gets jealous of the glorious, youthful peacocking of Wil Myers. In the last Bat-Flip Royale update, he responded nicely to Myers’ first two outrageously languid tosses of the bat of the year, cranking out one of his own like he was back in his noughties heyday. But flipping so brazenly, when all you’ve done really is fly out to Desmond Jennings in center, missing even scraping the wall by a full five feet – what was that Sori?!

Lost respect is what – the same of which can’t be said for Myers. Like Soriano, the Rays sophomore didn’t hit C.C. Sabathia‘s offering (far from a terrible pitch by the way) out into the Yankee Stadium cheap seats (because such things don’t exist -ha!), but boy did he make up for it with his peripheral showboating stats; After the customarily bored-looking flip – Myers has just about mastered the ‘been there, done that’ disdain already – he proceed to cruise down to first, thinking it was gone.

Not so much. The ball hit off both the wall and Jacoby Ellsbury in center, Carlos Beltran simply stood watching in right field, and Myers turned on the jets to bag himself an inside the park home run. Unlike with most inside the parkers, Myers made it round so easily in fact, that he pretty much strolled into home, thus finishing his afternoon jaunt in the same graceful ease with which he started his trot.

It’s a pleasure to see Myers’ laid-back style leading the next generation of bat-flippers, but he does sometimes lack a certain aggressive obnoxiousness. For that reason then, Starling Marte‘s walk-off shot and subsequent showboating vaults the fellow second year player ahead of Myers in this installment of BFR consideration. Sure, his jack was a legitimate game winner, capping off a Sergio Santos-centric Blue Jays bullpen implosion (the Jays were up two heading into the bottom of the ninth before a Pedro Alvarez homer tied it, and Marte finished the job), but the throwdown work was the real show stopper – a solid 65 on the scouting 20-80 scale according to Jonah Keri. Thrown in some solid preening at the plate too though, and I’m forced to bump it to a 70 grade (75 future).

Unfortunately for Marte’s celebration party however, the 2013 champion answered back with a grand riposte only the day after – a three-run, 452-foot monster of a shot off Marlins right-hander Jacob Turner that was a no-doubter from the moment it left the bat. And then there was the flip. 

MY GOODNESS.

I have little idea what must be running through Yasiel Puig‘s brain when he steps up to bat. Maybe he ponders what I imagine the rich and famous do often – what sort of fast car he will buy (and not recklessly speed) next. Sometimes perhaps his thoughts wander back to being smuggled into America by a Mexican drug cartel, and the subsequent death threats. Who knows, occasionally he might even think back to a scouting report that was passed to him before the game. But when he makes juicy contact with a hanging breaking ball, straightens up, and unleashes that amazing flip, I can only assume Yasiel Puig has one song playing in his head.

It’s Puig’s bat-flip world, we just live in it.

The Cuban Revelation: the Jose Abreu move is more than paying off in Chicago

Way, way back in my MLB Season Preview SeriesI lamented how quietly the Chicago White Sox had quietly limped to a 99-loss season in 2013. In doing my research for the post, I’d been surprised to see quite how bad they had been, and wondered how they had pulled off such anonymous incompetence. I figured it had been their anemic offense, something an influx of exciting new players would help cure, and thus get the Pale Hose back on the national radar. Using that logic, I wrote about Adam Eaton as the key to Chicago’s turnaround.

In a way, I was right; Eaton has been every bit the leadoff force that many predicted of him back before injury derailed his 2013 season in Arizona (and before Kevin Towers traded him at his lowest value). In a larger respect though, I was dead wrong; while Eaton’s arrival has undoubtedly had a positive impact on both sides of the ball, it has been the South Sider’s other notable offseason addition that has garnered baseball’s attention so far. One month into his major league career, 27-year-old rookie Jose Abreu has crushed his way into the wider consciousness, and, in the words of Jonah Keri today, “turned a moribund White Sox team into a must-watch outfit every night.”

Signed to a six-year, $68 million deal back in October (the largest in White Sox history in terms of total money), the acquisition of the right-handed slugger was deemed “a calculated risk, but one we had to take,” by none other than Chicago GM Rick Hahn at the time. Even after putting up video-game numbers in Cuba (Abreu batted .316 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs over 83 games in 2013, while posting a .479 on-base percentage and a .604 slugging percentage*), there were still concerns over how his perceived ‘long’ swing would hold up against American League competition, the usual cultural shift worries, and whether the heavy expectations upon his shoulders (he’d be replacing beloved face of the franchise Paul Konerko at first base) would further impede his production translating. That “bold and aggressive” move though, is looking like a stroke of genius on the part of Hahn so far in 2014.

Abreu has been sensational during his first four weeks in the majors, obliterating pitches and setting all sorts of records along the way. With a major hat-tip to ESPN’s Stats and Information crew, through last nights games:

– Abreu’s 10 home runs are the most by a White Sox rookie in any month, and the most for a White Sox player since Konerko had 11 in 2001 (Jim Thome hit 10 in 2006).

– His 31 RBIs set an MLB rookie record for March/April, beating the previous mark set by… Albert Pujols. His impressive total also established a new franchise record for the opening month, topping Konerko’s mark of 28 in 2002, and has tied Frank Thomas for the most by a White Sox player in any month (Thomas had 31 in August 2003)**.

– And (as illustrated in this excellent piece) he’s just destroying the outside pitch: Eight of his 10 home runs have come against pitches on the outer half of the plate or off the outside corner, which along with his .797 slugging percentage against similar pitches, give Abreu the highest marks in baseball (His six extra-base hits against pitches out of the strike zone rank second only to Mike Trout).

Less statistically significant, but still valid: he’s destroyed at least one backstop phone, been called ” the best player in the world … ever … right now,” by Evan Longoria (admittedly after he hit the above walk-off grand slam against Grant Balfour and the Rays on Friday), taken pretty good pitchers by the names of David Price, Justin Verlander and Chris Archer deep already, and taught Danny Salazar to never, everhang a breaking ball again.

More than anything though, Abreu has awakened the Pale Hose offense from its 2013 slumber; along with Eaton, he’s at the forefront of a lineup which leads the majors in runs scored (143), and is largely responsive for keeping Chicago afloat at .500 in the AL Central (especially considering how ace Chris Sale is out and the rest of the team’s pitching stinks – only Arizona have allowed more runs). His monstrous impact has even made Hawk Harrelson more exclamatory than usual. So while it’s a cert that he won’t keep up his torrid pace of record-making (if he hits 62 homers and 193 RBI, I’ll turn vegan), Abreu has already achieved something I thought far more improbable; almost single-handedly, he’s made the White Sox watchable again. 


* Numbers which actually made it a below-average year for the big righty. Including postseason appearances, he batted .392 over the 2010-13 seasons, with 133 home runs, 337 RBIs, 311 runs and 278 walks.

** Per the Elias Sports Bureau, the Cuban defector is the first rookie with 10 homers and 30 RBIs in a calendar month since Al Rosen and Luke Easter both did it for the Cleveland Indians in June 1950.

It’s obvious right? It’s Xander Bogaerts.

As previously detailed in my case for Noah Syndergaard, I’ll occasionally be interspersing my usual content with my (probably misguided) award predictions for the upcoming season. Today marks the next installment pertaining to my poor judgement – it’s time for an AL ROY pick. Let’s just say it isn’t quite the dark horse equivalent to my NL selection

Brian Cashman only projects his Japanese import to be a third starter, despite Masahiro Tanaka’s Spring Training so far. Jose Abreu might hit 30 home runs, but he may also struggle to just make contact. Houston’s stud outfielder George Springer will similarly come up with nothing but air far too many times. Taijuan Walker already has shoulder soreness. Kyle Zimmer may not get an opportunity to crack the Royals’ rotation, especially if Ervin Santana returns. I briefly flirted with the idea of Nick Castellanos, but let’s face it –  there can only really be one AL ROY. It’s obviously Xander Bogaerts.

It’s not often that a player can boast about being a key cog on a World Series champion one year while still retaining his rookie eligibility for the next, but the no. 2 prospect in all of baseball can. The fact that Bogaerts only flashed his potential in his major-league cameo too, yet still drew rave reviews for his performance, should have the rest of the AL East on notice. As assessed by Marc Hulet of Fangraphs, the Aruba native “could be a perennial all-star at either shortstop or third base for years to come in Boston.”

The then-20 year old earned his one-way ticket to Fenway Park on the back of his combining to accrue an .865 OPS between Double-A and Triple-A in 2013. He played sparingly during the regular season however, appearing in only 18 games and hitting .250/.320/.364 over 50 plate appearances. Then came October. Despite his youth, Bogaerts was asked to take over as Boston’s starting third baseman in the middle of the ALCS, and took full advantage of the opportunity; as put by Baseball Prospectus “he looked like a veteran of huge, high-leverage, bright-spotlight moments when it counted, drawing key walks and scoring runs when the Red Sox needed them most.” And if their testimony to his precocious ability to belie his years weren’t enough, just ask Max Scherzer about his already incredible approach at the plate.

At 6’3 and 185 lbs, Bogaerts is bigger than the traditional shortstop, but with Boston’s apparent lack of interest in re-signing Stephen Drew, that will be the position he plays everyday in 2014, with Will Middlebrooks back manning third. By all accounts, his defense will be at least average for the position, with his offense primed to set him apart from his shortstop peers. Dubbed by Keith Law to be “Troy Tulowitzki with a little less arm”, Fangraphs judged his approach to be advanced for age. Similarly, in their Top 100 Prospects write-up, MLB.com assessed of Bogaerts’ offensive skills “He uses his smooth, balanced swing to make hard contact and drive the ball to all fields. He has big raw power and already knows how to use it.” So while it may be hard for him to replicate the .893 OPS he put up during the postseason, it’s neither an unattainable target for the young star to strive for in his first full season. To put it plainly, such a mark will likely be the regulation mark for Bogaerts in the future should he continue adeptly handling the heightened competition – an adaptation he has made successfully at every stop of his professional career so far.

Projected to begin the season hitting seventh in a potent Red Sox lineup, and with no competition (yet) for his position, Bogaerts has a great opportunity to accrue the sort of counting stats (RBIzzzzzz!) ROY voters traditionally love. His being on a nationally recognized, winning team too will only further bolster his case, setting him apart from most of his fellow junior circuit rookies. The award is his to lose at this point, at least in my opinion. Now, if we had to choose where Bogaerts will rank among Boston’s best hitters by seasons end – that’s a question worth debating. For the record, give me somewhere among David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia on the Red Sox podium.

Did I mention this guy is 21?

Hello Baseball! Adam Eaton’s Welcome Edge.

After having my Baltimore preview rendered irrelevant the day prior, Jackie Bradley Jr. thankfully didn’t find himself traded/injured/prematurely-retired by the time my 2014 MLB Season Preview rolled around to Boston yesterday. From one promising center fielder to another then, as today I focus on Adam Eaton – one of the many young players the Chicago White Sox will be hoping break out this year. They could sure use some impetus in 2014. 

Did you know the White Sox last 99 games last year, and compiled the third worst record in the majors? I’m guessing if you’re a Chicago fan, sure you already did – I don’t mean to rub it in. I was just surprised. Obviously Detroit were a good team in winning 93 games and the AL Central, and both Cleveland and Kansas City defied the curses placed on their respective towns and improved, but finishing behind lowly Minnesota? I had no idea the Sox had sunk so low.

And therein lies the problem. Despite finishing fourth in the AL in ERA+ (their 108 being tied with Boston),  Chicago traipsed through 2013 devoid of inspirational hitting or defense; their OBP mark of .302 was second-worst to only the historically abysmal Astros, whom also redeemed the Sox (-72) from the ignominy of being ranked last in Rtot (Total Zone Total Fielding Runs Above Average). With nominal ‘Face of The Franchise’ Paul Konerko in the twilight of his career, Adam Dunn doing Adam Dunn-like things, and an otherwise uninteresting flotsam of role players, Chicago lacked the identity necessary for public concern. Enter Eaton.

After batting a combined .375 with 59 XBH (7HRs), with 48 RBI, 130 runs scored and 44 stolen bases in 130 games with Class AAA Reno and AA Mobile, as a member of the Diamondbacks organization in 2012, expectations were sky-high for Eaton entering last year; Keith Law tabbed him his top potential impact rookie, while Baseball America ranked the former 19th round pick as Arizona’s third-best prospect, the best hitter for average in the system, the fastest baserunner, and the best outfield arm. After suffering an injury to his left ulner collateral ligament in March however, Eaton was limited to just 66 games in which he slashed only 252/.314/.360. Having seen AJ Pollock develop into a competent starter in his absence, (and perhaps Eaton’s apparently abrasive locker-room personality) when the opportunity arose for Arizona to acquire the power bat they had for so long craved, their once-hyped prospect was deemed expendable.

Acquired in December’s three team trade that saw Mark Trumbo go to Arizona, and Chicago effectively swap Hector Santiago for Eaton, Chicago’s GM immediately alluded to his new center fielder’s fiery disposition: “This is a dirtbag baseball player… This is a guy who has been described to me by someone with words I can’t use. But we were looking to give us an edge that we were lacking a little bit in recent months.” More than just his scrappy attitude however, Eaton’s potential for a significant on the field impact makes his acquisition a good piece of business relative to Chicago’s climb back to relevancy; with his salary under team control through the next two seasons (he’s first eligible for free agency in 2019), Eaton represents the latest step in Chicago’s effort to build a foundation for future success through youth, joining the likes of Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu as a cog which should still be in place as part of the next relevant Sox team. The 25 year old’s arrival in center field also makes the defensively shaky Alejandro De Aza surplus to requirements – if traded at the right time, his departure could further net Chicago a useful young piece or two.

In taking advantage of Arizona’s curious policy of selling players at their lowest value (Justin Upton anyone? Trevor Bauer?), Chicago have cheaply procured a multi-faceted piece they sorely lacked ever since Juan Pierre left town – a prototypical leadoff fitter, strong outfielder, and threat on the base paths. At 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds, Eaton will primarily be expected to dig in and do whatever it takes to get on base – improving that ghastly 2013 OBP – from which he can then showcase his famed all-out attitude; “If I’m on first base I’m going to score for my guy because I want him to get an RBI,” said Eaton in January, “I don’t see playing the game any other way. I may be out of this game in five years because I’m playing so hard, but that’s the only way I can play and the only demeanor I can bring to this team.” The attitude comparisons to AJ Pierzynski are almost too obvious, but it’s clear that Eaton is ready to step into the shoes left vacant as Chicago’s resident irritant. Sox fans can dream of a similar victory parade moment as Pierzynski’s immortal 2005 ‘thanks for putting up with me’ quote; I’ll be content with measuring Eaton’s impact by my capacity to recall Chicago’s 2014 record next year.