Stat of the Day: Triple-A OPS leaders

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PCL Top 10
1. John Bowker (Giants) – 1047
2. Sean Rodriguez (Angels) – 1017
3. Mitch Jones (Dodgers) – 1015
4. Randy Ruiz (Blue Jays) – 976
5. Allen Craig (Cardinals) – 921
6. Brandon Wood (Angels) – 910
7. Chris Shelton (Mariners) – 905
8. Dee Brown (Dodgers) – 905
9. Adam Heether (Brewers) – 902
10. Prentice Redman (Mariners) – 900
– Bowker’s season was truly exceptonal, as he finished with a 64/74 K/BB ratio to go along with his 21 homers and 83 RBI in 366 at-bats. Also, he wasn’t helped by his home park quite as much as some of the others here (he had a 1080 road OPS). For the Giants, though, he hit .205/.238/.385 with a 12/1 K/BB ratio in 39 at-bats. He was more impressive as a 24-year-old rookie in 2008, hitting .255/.300/.408 in 326 at-bats. There’s little doubt that he’s one of the Giants’ best hitters, though that’s not saying much. He deserves a real crack at the starting job in left field or at first base next year.
– They couldn’t crack the top 10 because of mediocre power numbers, but infielders Ruben Gotay (429), Esteban German (419) and Mike McCoy (.405) finished second, third and fourth in the league in OBP behind Bowker. Gotay worked a remarkable 102 walks in 371 at-bats and finished at .272/.429/.450. The Diamondbacks didn’t call him up, though. He’ll be a minor league free agent this winter, and one of the teams more focused on OBP could look at him as a potential backup. He’d make a lot of sense in Oakland. German is currently helping the Rangers at third with Michael Young out, and McCoy was also rewarded for his fine performance, though there’s little for him to do with the Rockies.
– Other notables: Jesus Guzman (Giants) – 885, Jeff Clement (Mariners-Pirates) – 871, Eric Patterson (Athletics) – 870, Jai Miller (Marlins) – 870, Kila Ka’aihue (Royals) – 825, Mike Carp (Mariners) – 818, Eric Young Jr. (Rockies) – 817, Brett Wallace (Cardinals-Athletics) – 815, Blake DeWitt (Dodgers) – 775, Alcides Escobar (Brewers) – 762, Julio Borbon (Rangers) – 753, Brian Bogusevic (Astros) 707, John Raynor (Marlins) – 687
International League Top 10
1. Kevin Barker (Reds) – 927
2. Matt LaPorta (Indians) – 917
3. Shelley Duncan (Yankees) – 916
4. Brian Myrow (Pirates) – 915
5. Jordan Brown (Indians) – 913
6. Jeff Fiorentino (Orioles) – 896
7. Chris Richard (Rays) – 885
8. Jon Weber (Rays) – 879
9. Michael Restovich (White Sox) – 871
10. Don Kelly (Tigers) – 869
– LaPorta is the only player here currently up and playing regularly in the majors. Fiorentino, though, has a chance to audition for a bench spot in Baltimore with Adam Jones out and now Felix Pie sidelined as well.
– That Brown, the league batting average leader at .336, was passed over for a callup had a lot to do with the Indians wanting a look at Andy Marte at first base. Still, the 25-year-old deserved better. He was the Carolina League MVP in 2006 and the Eastern League MVP in 2007. He’s not nearly a top prospect, but he should be able to hold his own against right-handers in the majors.
– Next on the list were the Yankees’ Juan Miranda, at 866, and the Rays’ Matt Joyce, at 855. It was stunning to see the Rays decline to give Joyce a September callup. He hit .252/.339/.492 in 242 at-bats for the Tigers last season, causing Tampa Bay to trade Edwin Jackson for him, yet the Rays have given him just 32 major league at-bats this season.
– Other notables: Jeff Frazier (Reds) – 792, Neil Walker (Pirates) – 791, Austin Jackson (Yankees) – 759, Reid Brignac (Rays) – 744, Drew Stubbs (Reds) – 713, Michael Brantley (Indians) – 711, Chris Valaika Reds – (615)

Mets owners get some breathing room on their Bernie Madoff settlement payments

New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon stands on the field before baseball's Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Associated Press
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For years the central fact of life of the New York Mets has been that their owners, the Wilpon family and Saul Katz, lost a ton of money after investing it with friend and business partner Bernard Madoff, perpetrator of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. It has hampered their payroll and led to huge amounts of borrowing and restructuring that, before last year’s pennant run, seemed like it’d be a millstone on the Mets competitive prospects for years to come.

In addition to losing money, it was later determined that Katz and the Wilpons unfairly gained in some other respects and thus they ended up having their phony earnings clawed back via a settlement with the trustee managing the fallout of the Madoff scandal.  The upshot: the Wilpons and Katz, in addition to their losses, were ordered to pay nearly $60 million dollars back, half payable this week, half payable next year. That’s a lot of money for anyone to fork over and this week’s payment loomed large.

Now, however, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Wilpons and Katz will get some breathing room. Specifically, they have modified their agreement with the trustee and some of the owed money has been deferred. Instead of some $29 million payable this week, they will only have to pay $16 million. The remainder will be paid in four installments — from 2017 through 2020 — with an interest rate of 3.5 percent on the unpaid balance, Rubin says.

Now, there obviously was no promise that the $13 million saved this week be invested in the baseball team, but it’s probably a good thing overall for the Mets if their owners’ debt payments are reduced a bit.

Mike Napoli hit a homer for a fan with cancer

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 30: Mike Napoli #26 of the Cleveland Indians rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field on May 30, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Last night a fan named Kathi Heintzelman showed up at Progressive Field in Cleveland with a sign asking Indians first baseman Mike Napoli to hit a home run for her and to give her a hug. But there was a reason beyond her love for Mike Napoli. She’s starting chemotherapy today and the hug and homer would be a nice thing.  Hard to disagree with that, even if everyone knows that ballplayers can’t hit homers on demand.

Well, most players can’t. Mike Napoli did the easy part before the game, giving her a hug. Then in the sixth inning, he went yard:

 

Whether you believe that such things can be fated or if you merely acknowledge that Heintzelman asked Napoli for a homer at a good time — he’s on a hot streak right now and has hit bombs in four of his last 11 games — it’s a great story.

 

The Twins recall Byron Buxton

Byron Buxton
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Byron Buxton has been recalled from Triple-A Rochester by the Twins.

Buxton will replace Danny Santana, who was placed on the disabled list following a hamstring injury. But the bigger picture here is that Buxton will get a fresh go-around to show that he is the future of the Twins like so many assume he will be. The 22-year-old hasn’t hit so far in the majors, but he batted .336/.403/.603 with six homers, four steals, and a 26/11 K/BB ratio over 129 plate appearances after his demotion to Triple-A last month.

At this point the Twins, who stink on ice, need to just put their top young player in the game and let him learn to swim at the big league level rather than try to squeak out a few extra relatively meaningless wins with guys who won’t be part of the next contending Twins team.

92-year-old World War II vet throws a nifty ceremonial first pitch

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.04.09 AM
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Think of how many bad ceremonial first pitches you’ve seen. From the worm burners from local business owners and pillars of the community at minor league games to ex-big leaguers who obviously haven’t picked up a ball since they retired to the famous celebrity ones that go viral the next day, there are probably a lot more bad first pitches out there than good ones.

But when the good ones come, they’re really enjoyable. And few are more enjoyable than the one which preceded yesterday’s Padres-Mariners game in Seattle. The pitcher: Burke Waldron, a 92-year-old veteran of World War II. He did it in his dress whites. He ran out onto the field beforehand. And though his catcher didn’t set up the full 60 feet, six inches away from where Waldron threw it, it was still a spiffy pitch. Way better than most: