What we'll be arguing about in 2010

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I’m not the biggest fan of “storylines” in the “what storylines will we be following . . .” sense. Stuff is going to happen on its own anyway, so taking too much time to frame the issues beforehand seems somewhat artificial to me.

But I’m obviously swimming against the tide here, because I’ve seen several “what to expect in 2010” stories already, so I may as well just give in and riff a bit. The bolded items are what MLB.com’s story thinks will be the big issues:

Roy Halladay vs. Cliff Lee: People will be talking it up all year, trying to figure out if the Phillies made the right “choice” between the aces. Almost everyone who talks about it, however, will neglect to mention that these were separate deals, and that if they really wanted to, the Phillies could have kept both of them and gone all-out for the pennant instead of fighting off the Braves or whoever all year.  False choice, is what I’m saying here.

See you at Target Field, and bring blankets: I’m tired of this one already. You’d think that they didn’t play outside baseball games in Minnesota for twenty freakin’ years before they built that monstrosity of a dome.  There will be some cold and icky Twins games in the early going. No more so than there will be cold and icky Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, White Sox, Cubs, Mets and Phillies games in April.

The Stephen Strasburg Show:  I think the most interesting question is about when he actually plays for the Nats. I’d be shocked if he actually broke camp with the team. You keep him down a few months so he can avoid Super Two status at least, right?  But if they do break camp with Strasburg because they think he’ll be a big draw, the big question is if the Nats will be smart and make him the second or third day starter instead of the Opening Day starter. Everyone comes to Opening Day anyway. If you’re going to use him as a gate attraction, wait pitch him on a random Wednesday against the Marlins.

Joe Girardi’s jersey:  This one is really about whether the Yankees can repeat. This sentence rocks the house: “Competitive balance is greater now than it was a decade ago, so it figures to be even harder.” Call me crazy, but I think there are some people who would disagree with that assertion.

Pujols finishes The Best Decade Ever. The article says “The Cardinals’ first
baseman enters his 10th season, and that will complete the best first
decade of Major League service by a position player.”  I hadn’t really considered that before, but I guess it’s true. Can Pujols keep it up? Or will he join this crowd of players who fell the farthest after ten seasons of excellence?

Cubs, cont’d. Are we really going to ask if the Cubs can break the 100+ year title drought when they (a) kind of stunk last year; and (b) their two biggest offseason acquisitions are Marlon Byrd and Carlos Silva?

There are some other storylines raised. The only really interesting one is whether we’ll see a changing of the guard in the AL West this year, with Seattle passing Anaheim. If the season started today I’d have to say yes. I’d even have to say that Anaheim might fall to third behind the Rangers.

But let’s just let it all unfold, OK?

Report: Padres close to trading Matt Kemp to the Braves for Hector Olivera

SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 06:  Matt Kemp #27 of the San Diego Padres talks in the dugout prior to the start of the game against the Atlanta Braves at PETCO Park on June 6, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.

Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.

Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2010 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.

Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.

Athletics trade Billy Burns to the Royals for Brett Eibner

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 13: Billy Burns #1 of the Oakland Athletics waits on deck to bat during the fourth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 13, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.

Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.

Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.

Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.