Link-O-Rama: Turnaround in Seattle

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* Seattle still has 44 games left to play, but the Mariners have already tied last season’s win total. First-year general manager Jack Zduriencik deserves a lot of credit for how quickly he cleaned house and turned things around with a very different approach than the old regime.
* On a related note, when it comes to Yuniesky Betancourt’s horrible glove Joe Posnanski’s eyes agree with all the advanced defensive metrics. Royals general manager Dayton Moore has made it clear that he doesn’t pay any attention to the stats, but surely he has use of his senses, right?
* Maybe now Yankees fans will finally start to admit that Derek Jeter might be better than Luis Aparicio.
* One of my favorite newspaper beat writers, Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star, notes that Joe Mauer is currently leading all three categories for the “sabermetric triple crown.” Mauer has been the best all-around player in the AL this season, yet has almost zero chance to win the MVP.
* Remember a few months ago, when everyone thought that the Rangers had too much catching depth? Not so much.

Imagining Theo Epstein in politics

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“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”

That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.

Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.