Some positivity for the non-contenders

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bluejays_090923.jpgIt’s so easy to get down this time of year. The weather is getting chilly, it’s not staying light out as late, and if your team isn’t in playoff contention – and in this dullest of September stretch runs, you pretty much know by now – the final days of the season can be quite a chore.

But it doesn’t have to be, because baseball is all about hope. Hope that a certain veteran might reach the obscure milestone that no one cares about but he. Hope that the late-season call-up will show you some flashes of greatness. Hope that if you’re not going to win this year, there’s always the next.

So to all you fans out there following an also-ran club, this one’s for you. A quick scan around the blogosphere reveals plenty of things for you to be positive about:

— In Milwaukee they may not have the playoffs to look forward to, but they’ll always have beer. And they really, really love their beer. [Miller Park Drunk]

— It’s celebration time in Toronto, where the Blue Jays have just clinched fourth place in the AL East. They should send a thank-you note to the Orioles. [The Tao of Stieb]

— In Chicago, Milton Bradley has apologized for the heap of misery he brought on his team and its fans. So what if the players learned about it by seeing the statement handed out to the media? What do you want from him, people? [Carrie Muskat via Twitter]

— Not sure who out there thinks Zack Greinke doesn’t deserve the Cy Young, but in Kansas City, they’re still stumping hard for him. [Ball Star]

— Rajai Davis has people downright giddy in Oakland. Now if they can just find some power. [Athletics Nation]

— If you can’t win in Cleveland, at least you can dominate the Eastern League. Nothing wrong with that, folks. [Waiting for Next Year]

— In Seattle, they’re marveling at Jose Lopez’s ability to hit at least 25 home runs and walk fewer than 25 times. It’s cool that guys like Joe DiMaggio and Albert Belle are also on the list. Not so cool that Jeff Francoeur and Marcus Thames are also on it. [U.S.S. Mariner]

— In New York, they’re celebrating that the Mets came up short in their quest to break the record for fewest home runs. That’s something, at least. [NYT Bats blog]

— And last but not least, they may not have much of a team in Cincinnati, but when it comes to goggles, no one tops their own Chris Sabo. [OMGReds]

Report: Barry Bonds under consideration to be the Marlins hitting coach

Barry Bonds

This shouldn’t cause any controversy, lead to a lot of people saying dumb things or provide fodder for jokes at all. Nope, none whatsoever:

In what promises to be a bombshell move, if executed, all-time great slugger Barry Bonds is under consideration to become Marlins hitting coach.

Team higherups have quietly been discussing this possibility for weeks.

That’s Jon Heyman, who reminds us that Bonds has worked with the Giants in the spring in recent years. And who, no matter what else you can say about him, was one of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen. Also worth remembering that despite his controversial past, that greatness came not just from physical gifts, naturally or artificially bestowed. It came from his approach, preparation and strategy at the plate. No one can teach a hitter to hit like Barry Bonds, but you’d think that hitters could be taught to try to approach an at bat the way Barry Bonds would. And who better to do it than Barry Bonds?

That is, if Bonds is willing to drop his seemingly ideal retired life in San Francisco, move to Miami and work for Jeff Loria for nine months a year. Which, eh, who knows? But the possibility of it is pretty fascinating to think about.

Yadier Molina’s new backup: Cardinals sign Brayan Pena to two-year deal

Brayan Pena Reds
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Veteran catcher Brayan Pena has agreed to a two-year, $5 million contract with the Cardinals, who’re investing much more than usual in their backup for Yadier Molina.

After bouncing around for a decade without getting even 250 plate appearances in a season Pena signed with the Reds and topped 350 plate appearances in both 2014 and 2015. His production didn’t improve any, as Pena hit .263 with five homers and a .652 OPS in 223 games as a regular.

Pena’s best skill is rarely striking out, which enables him to hit for a decent batting average, but he has very little power and swings at everything. He struggled to control the running game this season at age 33, but has a decent throw-out rate for his career.

Making a multi-year commitment to Pena suggests the Cardinals are no longer counting on Molina being the same type of workhorse behind the plate, which certainly makes sense given his age and injury history. Pena will replace Tony Cruz, who’s been Molina’s understudy since 2011 while hitting just .220 with five homers and a .572 OPS in 259 games.

While we wait for free agent signings: Andrew McCutchen stars in a one-act play

Andrew McCutchen
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It’s a pretty slow offseason so far. We’ve had a couple of minor signings. I guess Jordan Zimmermann is sort of a big deal. But it’s a lot more quiet so far this year than it was this time last year. I suppose there’s no real rhyme nor reason for it. Baseball offseason is long, there is no salary cap and thus there’s no rush to do things too quickly.

So, while we wait, here’s Andrew McCutchen doing his best to kill time until spring training starts:

Red Sox sign outfielder Chris Young

Chris Young Getty

Veteran outfielder Chris Young thrived in a platoon role for the Yankees this past season and now he’s headed to the rival Red Sox to fill a similar role, signing a multi-year deal with Boston according to Ken Rosenthal of

Young was once an everyday center fielder for the Diamondbacks, making the All-Star team in 2010 at age 26, but for the past 3-4 years he’s gotten 300-350 plate appearances in a part-time role facing mostly left-handed pitching. He hit .252 with 14 homers and a .773 OPS for the Yankees, but prior to that failed to top a .700 OPS in 2013 or 2014.

Given the Red Sox’s outfield depth–Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Brock Holt even with Hanley Ramirez back in the infield–Young is unlikely to work his way into everyday playing time at age 32, but he should get another 300 or so plate appearances while also providing a veteran fallback option. And it’s possible his arrival clears the way for a trade.