The Nats want Lackey, but why would he want them?

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Last year the Washington Nationals were in on Mark Teixeira. No one figured they’d get him, but because the guy is from the mid-Atlantic area, there was at least a reason not to openly guffaw at their courtship of the guy. He could have gotten homesick. There was at least a non-zero chance that he’d be interested, even if was a chance that was only microscopically above zero.

But John Lackey?  MLB.com’s Bill Ladson says that the Nats are interested, the idea being that a guy like Lackey could anchor the staff and serve as a mentor to Stephen Strasburg and the other young Nats’ pitchers. Here’s Mike Rizzo’s explanation of how the Nationals can convince a guy like Lackey to come to what has been futility central for the past few years:

You
have to show the veteran pitcher what the plan is, our plan for
success, how we are built to perform at this level at this given time . . . We think with the additions of an Adam Dunn, a Josh Willingham and
Nyjer Morgan, it’s going to attract some veteran players. These guys
know what we are doing here. It’s all over the league where we are at
and what we are trying to do. I think they can see this is the
beginning of a good, exciting ballclub.

If I’m John Lackey’s agent and they trot out Adam Dunn I say “John, you sign there and you’ll have the absolute worst defensive player in baseball in left or at first.”  If they trot out Josh Willingham I say “John, they were openly shopping him last week, so even if he floats your boat, don’t count on him.” If they trot out Nyjer Morgan I’d say “Man, those socks look good, don’t they?  Morgan is sharp. No reason to turn down the Yankees and Red Sox, but he is sharp.”

I agree that brighter days are in the Nats’ future, but there’s zero chance Lackey will buy what Mike Rizzo is selling. There’s nothing in his history or public statements that suggests he’d be interested in assuming some Obi-Wan role on a team like the Nats. This is probably his last shot at a big free agent deal, and he’s going to use it to land somewhere that provides him both money and a guarantee of winning, and Washington ain’t that place.   

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system in baseball

Braves 2
Associated Press
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Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!

Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.

Some Mets fans are not happy that Beyonce is playing at Citi Field

Beyoncé performs during halftime of the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif.  (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Associated Press
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The funny thing about that “stick to sports” stuff I was going on about the other day is that, in reality, a whole lot of the people who say “stick to sports” don’t really want to just stick to sports. They’re totally cool going on about political, social or cultural stuff as long as it fits their world view. It’s not “stick to sports.” It’s “don’t talk about the social implications of sports-related stuff in ways that upset me.” If sports and culture come together in other ways, however, they’re completely fine in grinding their axe.

For example, Beyonce is playing a concert a Citi Field this summer. The show is so popular that they added a second date. The Mets’ Twitter feed just announced that tickets will go on sale for the new show soon:

A while lotta Mets fans responded to that negatively. For political/social/cultural reasons that they are willingly bringing in to a conversation about a pop singer and a baseball stadium that will double as a concert venue:

And they go on and on.

How much do you want to bet that a whole lotta these respondents would tell you to “stick to baseball” if you wanted to bring up how race affects the sport or how, if instead of Beyonce, this was announcing a Kid Rock/Ted Nugent-headlined festival and you mused whether that was a case of the Mets somehow endorsing their messages?