One of the 5,359 reasons the Home Run Derby sucks

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And now, the moment only the masochistic among you have been waiting for, the Home Run Derby:

The 2009 State Farm Home Run Derby field was finalized on Sunday,
when American League home run leader Carlos Pena was named to replace
the Red Sox’s Dustin Pedroia on the AL roster for Tuesday’s All-Star
Game and as the fourth AL entrant in the Derby . . . Pena joins Tigers
third baseman Brandon Inge, Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz and Twins
catcher Joe Mauer from the Junior Circuit, and the National League
features big league homer leader, hometown hero and All-Star
centerpiece Albert Pujols of the Cardinals, plus Adrian Gonzalez of the
Padres, Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard of the

I just can’t stand the derby. It’s tedious. It’s repetitive. It gets
worse as it goes on because guys get tired. It’s just really not my cup
of tea. But worst of all, it features Chris Berman calling each and
every shot, and that’s ninth circle of hell stuff. This year even more
so, because I recently discovered that, in addition to being annoying,
his “back, back, back” business is both (a) stolen; and (b) wrong. I read this last week while doing some research on fabled Dodgers and Yankees broadcaster Red Barber:

A number of play-by-play announcers, including Chris Berman, picked
up on his use of “back, back, back” to describe a long fly ball with
potential to be a home run. Oddly, those other announcers are
describing the flight of the ball, whereas Barber was describing the
outfielder, in this famous call from Game 6 of the 1947 World Series
with Joe DiMaggio at bat: “Here’s the pitch, swung on, belted… it’s a
long one… back goes Gionfriddo, back, back, back, back, back, back…
heeee makes a one-handed catch against the bullpen! Oh, Doctor!”

Which makes sense when you think about it because the ball, as far as
it’s concerned anyway, is going forward. It’s the outfielder who is
going back.

Either way, fine Berman, steal from Red Barber if you must. But at
least steal correctly. There are no outfielders making plays on the
ball at the Home Run Derby, so there shouldn’t be any “back, back,
backs.” If you agree to drop that tired, stolen and inaccurate shtick,
I’ll agree to watch your little exhibition. Deal?

Marlins have begun extension talks with Dee Gordon

Dee Gordon
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald wrote three weeks ago that the Marlins were probably going to explore an extension this winter with second baseman Dee Gordon. And it sounds like those talks are underway.

Via beat writer Joe Frisaro of

As a guest on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” show Wednesday morning, Gordon confirmed his camp has been in talks with the Marlins regarding a multiyear deal. A source told that the discussions are preliminary and have just recently started.

“My agent is doing the talking,” Gordon said on the show. “They’re just keeping me in the loop. I think it’s going pretty well right now. We’ll see how that goes. I’m just playing the waiting game. We’re going to do the right thing.”

The 27-year-old carries three more seasons of salary arbitration, so there’s no real rush to get something done before next spring. Gordon carries quite a bit of leverage after posting a career-best .333/.359/.418 slash line in 145 games this past season for the Fish. He led all major leaguers in hits (205) and stolen bases (58).

Braves sign Bud Norris to one-year contract

Bud Norris

Bud Norris has found a home for his attempt at a bounceback season, signing a one-year deal with the Braves. Jon Heyman of says it’s worth $2.5 million, which is a huge cut from his $8.8 million salary this year.

Norris had established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter from 2009-2014, but had a brutal 2015 season split between the Orioles and Padres with a 6.72 ERA in 83 innings and a late-season move to the bullpen.

In announcing the signing the Braves referred to Norris as a starting pitcher, so joining the rotation for a rebuilding team gives him a chance to get his career back on track with an eye on hitting the open market as a free agent again next offseason. And if he fares well, the Braves could use him to add a prospect or two at the trade deadline.

The Cubs acquire Rex Brothers from the Rockies

Rex Brothers Rockies

The number of people who, if you held a gun to their head, would say that “Rex Brothers” was a game show host and/or local TV news personality from the late 1970s or early 80s is not insignificant. But if you’re a Rockies fan or if spend all day thinking about baseball you know that he’s a reliever who has played in Colorado for the past five years. Now you know him as a reliever for the Cubs:

Brothers — a former Best Shape of His Life All-Star — was pretty good until he hit a brick wall in 2014 and spent most of 2015 in Triple-A. He had something of a bounceback after being called up when rosters expanded in September, but that’s not the sort of thing to excite anyone. He could be useful for the Cubs or just spring training cannon fodder and organizational depth.

Cabrera just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago and pitched a grand total of 14 games in the Dominican Summer League. He’s young and was a $250,000 signee from the Dominican as a 16-year-old so, by definition, he’s a project. Worth giving up Rex Brothers for him if you’re the Rockies, worth risking for some depth in the pen if you’re the Cubs.

Diamondbacks hire Dave Magadan as hitting coach

Dave Magadan Rangers
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Steve Gilbert of reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.

Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.

He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.