Milton Bradley may actually be wanted somewhere

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This part of the season usually gives us playoff races, but we really only have one in play right now.  In their absence, we’re sort of in a pre-postseason holding pattern, with no major news or action to keep us busy until the games start to truly matter again.

Thank goodness, then, for some early hot stove action, courtesy of the St. Petereburg Times.  They break down the Rays’ offseason roadmap this morning.  The upshot:  keep the rotation as it is, plan on Longoria, Upton and Zobrist being untouchable, but dangle anyone else and see if a good deal comes along.  Yes, anyone, including Jason Bartlett, Carl Crawford and Carlos Peña, all of whom have probably peaked even if a lot of people haven’t noticed it yet.  The goal: get some bullpen help and address the problems at catcher and DH.  Oh, and this is fun:

In a perfect world, the Rays upgrade at catcher or DH without hurting themselves elsewhere. How do you do that? Finding the right match. For instance, the Rays were interested in Milton Bradley last off-season before he signed with the Cubs.

Bradley had a tumultuous season in Chicago — as he has elsewhere — and will probably be traded. If the Rays convince the Cubs that Burrell could excel by returning to the NL in the walk year of his contract, they might have a willing partner. Their 2010 salaries are a wash, but the Rays will have to figure out a way to negate Bradley’s $12 million salary in 2011.

Is it likely? Probably not, but that’s the sort of deal the Rays will probably be seeking.

Yes, you read that correctly. Mere days after he was suspended for being utter cancer to a ballclub, people are out lobbying for Milton Bradley.  And I’m not sure what’s crazier: Bradley himself, the idea to bring him to Tampa Bay, or the fact that I kinda like it.

I know it’s premature, but man you gotta love the hot stove season. Anything can happen and nothing is nuts.

Angel Hernandez ejects Asdrubal Cabrera from a spring training game

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You don’t see many ejections in spring training games. The stakes are virtually non-existent, so it’s not like a player is likely to blow up at a bad call or something. That’s especially true now, as we enter spring training’s final week. Everyone wants to get through it uninjured and without fuss. And it’s getting hot in Florida in Arizona too. No one’s got time for that.

Yesterday Asdrubal Cabrera and Angel Hernandez did, though. Cabrera was batting in a road game against the Nats. He asked for time to step out of the box. Hernandez didn’t give it to him. This annoyed Cabrera who, after hitting a single, jawed at Hernandez as he ran out of the box and then pointed at him once he reached first base. Hernandez ran him.

Cabrera didn’t quickly leave the field. He took a slow, slow walk to the outfield and left via the gate in right, which is where visiting players tend to enter and leave spring parks. Watch:

 

Here’s what Cabrera told reporters after the game:

“‘C’mon, man, you’re better than that,’ ” Cabrera said, recalling what he yelled at Hernandez. “And he threw me out.”

Eh. I have no love for Angel Hernandez, but “you’re better than that” is a weak sauce insult. For one thing, maybe the person isn’t better than that? For another, it’s functionally equivalent to “you know better,” which is a thing a parent says to a kid. It’s fine when your dad says it, but Cabrera isn’t Hernandez’s dad and thus saying so carries with it an implicit belittling intent. It’s an ad hominem, which violates the usual ump-player understanding in which you can say a call was b.s. but don’t say the ump is a jerk personally.

More generally, it’s just cowardly. It’s designed not to deal with the substance of the beef. “You are a fine person all of the time, kind sir, but in this instance you are not up to par.” Well, why? Say so or shut up and quit being passive-aggressive.

Again: Hernandez is generally horrible. He’s not better than that, actually. But Cabrera deserved to get run, if for no other reason, than his insult was lame.

Report: Jung-Ho Kang not granted a visa to enter the United States

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This could be a problem for the Pirates.

Ballwriter Sung Min Kim tweets that, according to a Korean report, which you can read here if you know Korean, Pirates infielder Jung-Ho Kang has been denied a visa to enter the United States. The report just broke this morning and has yet to hit the English language press.

He adds that the report suggests that Kang, who was just convicted of a third DUI in Korea, may have a DUI conviction in a third country, though that part is unconfirmed. It’s also unclear whether that, or the mere fact of his conviction in Korea, has held up his visa.

Either way, Kang has yet to see a day of camp and will almost certainly not be ready to start the season for the Pirates, even if he gets his visa today. It sounds, however, like this could be a more drawn out process. We’ll stay tuned.