Former No. 1 pick pleads guilty to assault on draft day

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With the Nationals just hours away from making Stephen Strasburg the
latest No. 1 pick, one of the biggest top-of-the-draft busts of all
time is pleading guilty today to four misdemeanor counts of battery.

Matt Bush went No. 1 overall in the 2004 draft because the Padres were
trying to save money, so they selected the local high-school star while
passing on the likes of Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, and Stephen
Drew. Bush was a disaster from Day 1, getting into a bar fight before
even making his pro debut and then hitting .192 at rookie-ball.

He moved up to Single-A in 2005 and hit .221/.279/.276, missed most
of 2006 with a broken ankle, hit .204/.310/.276 at Single-A in 2007,
and was then converted from shortstop to pitcher as the Padres tried to
salvage some value from the blown pick. It didn’t work, as a torn elbow
ligament put a quick end to his time on the mound.

Bush’s guilty plea today stems from what the San Diego Union-Tribune
calls a “drunken assault” on lacrosse players at his old high school,
which caused the Padres to drop him from the 40-man roster in February
to make room for Cliff Floyd. Toronto picked up Bush only to release
him six weeks later for another drunken incident involving the alleged
harassment of a woman.

And now he’s a 23-year-old with an impotent bat and blown-out elbow
facing “at least three years of probation” and a court-mandated stint
in alcohol rehab. But hey, at least the Padres saved about $900,000 in
bonus money! San Diego picks No. 3 overall tonight and will try to avoid a Bush-like disaster with Strasburg and the consensus top hitter, Dustin Ackley, likely off the board.

Jered Weaver dealing with “dead arm”

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Padres starter Jered Weaver lasted just two-thirds of an inning in Wednesday afternoon’s Cactus League appearance against the Royals. He yielded four runs on three hits, throwing 31 pitches before getting pulled. His spring ERA now sits at an ugly 10.13.

Weaver said he’s been dealing with a “dead arm” since his last bullpen session, but added he’s dealt with the issue in previous springs, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

The Padres signed Weaver to a one-year, $3 million contract last month. The right-hander is coming off of the worst season of his 11-year career. His fastball averaged a career-low 83 MPH and he put up a 5.06 ERA with a 103/51 K/BB ratio in 178 innings.

Ian Kinsler doesn’t think Puerto Rico or Dominican Republic players play the game the right way

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Update: Whoops…

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Earlier, Craig wrote about Dan Duquette’s dogwhistle language in his criticism of Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. We have some more dogwhistling, this time coming from Tigers (and Team U.S.) second baseman Ian Kinsler. Via Billy Witz of The New York Times:

I hope kids watching the W.B.C. can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays. That’s not taking anything away from them. That just wasn’t the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way.

The goal of the World Baseball Classic, created by Major League Baseball, is to promote baseball across the globe. It’s players like Puerto Rico’s Javier Baez who are doing the best job in that regard, not boring white guys from the U.S. Potential baseball fans are not swayed into liking the sport when a player hits a home run and solemnly puts his head down to stroll the bases. They get excited and energized when players show emotion, flip their bats, celebrate. Baez did more to make baseball appeal to new and lapsed audiences with his premature celebration tag than the entire U.S. team has done this tournament.

Furthermore, it is hypocritical to want to diversify the sport’s audience while squelching incoming cultures.

Jim Leyland also got in on the action:

Go Puerto Rico.