Kerry Wood: black Cubs players got racist hate mail

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There was a lot of scoffing at Milton Bradley when he and his family suggested that his difficulties in Chicago this season were due in part to racist fans and preschools and what have you. But while it may still be legitimate to scoff at the degree to which Bradley blames such nonsense for his performance on the field, it does not appear to be legitimate to scoff at the fact of it occurring:

Cleveland Indians closer and ex-Cubs ace Kerry Wood didn’t dismiss the notion that Cubs outfielder Milton Bradley and other African-American players may have experienced racial insensitivity during their time in Chicago.

“I know just from the experience of playing with those guys, and I’ve seen some of the mail that they get, obviously not a lot of us get that kind of mail,” Wood said on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “I didn’t, but there are people out there that got their beliefs.”

Wood said he saw some of the mail that was sent to former teammates LaTroy Hawkins, Jacque Jones and former manager Dusty Baker.

“It’s tough to sit there and read that,” Wood said, “and it’s tough to even understand what those players go through.”

I think it’s pretty clear by now that Milton Bradley is an emotional and often immature guy who doesn’t deal well with criticism.  And to be sure, you’ve never heard LaTroy Hawkins, Jacque Jones or Dusty Baker cite that kind of garbage as the reason for any of their professional shortcomings while with the Cubs.

But let’s make sure when we pile on Milton Bradley that we’re piling on the way in which he deals with adversity as opposed to pretending that such adversity doesn’t exist. Because based on what Kerry Wood is saying, it certainly does exist, even in this day and age.

(link via BTF)

Astros sign Carlos Beltran to one-year, $16 million deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 9: Carlos Beltran #36 of the Texas Rangers hits an RBI against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning during game three of the American League Division Series at Rogers Centre on October 9, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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The Astros have reportedly agreed to terms with free agent DH/outfielder Carlos Beltran for a one-year, $16 million contract, per ESPN’s Buster Olney. The deal includes a complete no-trade clause, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Beltran elected to return to the Astros after fielding offers from the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. He appeared in Houston during the second half of 2004, batting .258/.368/.559 with 23 home runs in 399 PA and making his first postseason run to the tune of a .435 average and eight homers as the Astros battled their way through to a seven-game loss in the Championship Series. Beltran also played with Houston manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach Alex Cora in separate stints with the Royals and Mets, which the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan cited as possible influences in the Astros’ decision to pursue the free agent.

In 2016, Beltran split the season between the Yankees and Rangers after getting dealt at the deadline for a package of right-handed pitching prospects. He was stationed in right field for the majority of his time in New York, but was almost exclusively utilized as a designated hitter over 52 games in Texas. Between the two clubs, he batted an impressive .295/.337/.513 with 29 homers and earned his ninth career All-Star designation to boot.

The veteran slugger is expected to fill a similar role on the Astros, who need a full-time DH but could use some additional support in the outfield corner. Olney envisions a lineup with Beltran in the five-spot, per an earlier report:

Rays and Braves reportedly interested in Welington Castillo

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits an RBI double in the third inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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Catcher Welington Castillo was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks on Friday, making him one of 35 additional players to enter the free agent pool. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Castillo was drawing interest from the Rays, among a bevy of major league clubs, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien added that the Braves have “some interest” as well.

The Rays’ trifecta of catchers — Curt Casali, Luke Maile, and Bobby Wilson — did little to inspire confidence behind the plate in 2016, and with top free agent Wilson Ramos sidelined after suffering a torn ACL in September, it makes sense that they’d explore more affordable options. Castillo profiled well at the plate during his first full season with the Diamondbacks, slashing .264/.322/.423 with 14 home runs in 457 PA. Behind the dish, he placed third among all qualified major league catchers with seven DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), though his league-leading 10 passed balls weren’t anything to write home about.

Unlike the Rays, the Braves have a serviceable catching platoon in Tyler Flowers and Anthony Recker. Beyond that, their catching depth is fairly shallow despite the recent addition of former Mariners’ outfield prospect Alex Jackson. Jackson, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley, has not played behind the plate since high school, though GM John Coppolella is reportedly interested in trying him there again. A.J. Pierzynski is also rumored to be seeking a deal elsewhere in free agency, which could open the door for a multi-year deal with Castillo.