Jason Bay press conference highlights

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The Mets unveiled their newest bauble a couple of hours ago. After giving him a New York Rangers jersey with his name on it — seriously — Bay faced the press. The whole thing is here if you want to read it. Here are the highlights:

  • Asked about leaving the Sox, Bay said that he was open to the idea of returning to Boston at season’s end but that “what it boiled down to, I just think the Mets wanted me more”;
  • Bay said that the Mets were on his “short list.” Why? “The chance to win.”  I’m going to assume that was a covert tip to the media that Omar Minaya is going to be fired soon, because otherwise the statement simply wouldn’t make any sense;
  • Is he worried about the big Citi Field outfield? “For those of you who don’t know, and I’m sure most of you do,
    Pittsburgh is very spacious as well, and you play half your games on
    the road . . . I’m by no means Torii Hunter out there. I know that. But I still think I’m pretty good.”
  • Someone asked him if replacing Manny Ramirez in Boston will help “with what he’ll see in New York.” Bay was diplomatic. I wish, however, that he had said “yeah, because replacing Gary Sheffield’s rotting corpse and the misfit toys Jerry ran out there last year will be REALLY tough. Jeez!”
  • Bay said that between the first offer at the Winter Meetings and the time the deal was basically done was “a week or 10 days or something.”  I suppose everyone’s definition of a done deal differs a bit, but assuming things were essentially in place in the time frame Bay says they were, we all should apologize for our “this is taking forever; Bay doesn’t want to come to New York” snark.
  • He was asked what other teams were in the running for his services: “We can leave the second part of that question out. I don’t think we need to get into where I ultimately could have been.” Clearly the Mystery Team has Bay’s family held hostage and will only release them once the heat dies down. The Mystery Team doesn’t mess around. Mess you up, man.
  • What about that Gammons quote about how he would rather play in Beirut than Queens?  “I kind of heard about that around the way.”  “Around the way?” What, is Bay an extra on “The Wire?”  He goes on: “People have opinions — that’s fine. To say those were my opinions and that’s the way I felt, that hurts a little bit.”  Peter Groton Gammons! You’ve hurt Jason’s feelings! Now I want you to apologize this instant young man!
  • Asked about the state of his shoulder, which some feared would cause problems in his physical: “I actually never hurt my shoulder.”  Um, OK.  You know, I hate to continue to throw out conspiracy theories here, but the guy who was beating the Bay’s-physical-is-gonna-be-rough drum the hardest was Heyman. You don’t suppose that someone was whispering things to him about Bay’s shoulder in order to keep the Mets theoretically in play for a bit so some other high profile left field free agent could use them as a stalking horse, do you?  Nah, that would be crazy talk.

Anyway, Bay’s a Met now. Now on to the Bengie Molina sweepstakes.

Rangers avoid arbitration with Mitch Moreland

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First baseman/outfielder Mitch Moreland and the Rangers have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $5.7 million deal.

Moreland requested $6 million and the Rangers countered at $4.675 million, so the two sides settled on the player-friendly side of the midpoint.

Moreland bounced back from an injury wrecked 2014 season to have a career-year in 2015, hitting .278 with 23 homers and an .812 OPS in 132 games. Arbitration eligible for the final time at age 30, he’s set to be a free agent next offseason.

Tiger Stadium redevelopment group loses $50K because of its preference for artificial turf

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Craig Calcaterra
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We’ve posted frequently on the topic of the old Tiger Stadium site. If you’ve kept up with it you know that the site, nearly overgrown with weeds and strewn with trash before being rescued by a group of volunteers called the Navin Field Grounds Crew, is now being slated for redevelopment by the Detroit Police Athletic League.

The PAL is committed to keeping a baseball field as part of the development, but they are also, quite unfortunately, committed to putting artificial turf down over the bit of Earth where baseball legends once walked and ran.

Backlash to the plan has begun, however. Not just from people like me or the Navin Field Grounds Crew, who are opposed to fake grass, but to an actual donor to the Detroit Police Athletic League:

With an annual contribution of $50,000 to Detroit PAL’s programs, the Lear Corporation has been a major benefactor of the nonprofit for years. But in light of PAL’s controversial plan to redevelop the Tiger Stadium site with artificial turf, Lear’s CEO is speaking out.

Matthew Simoncini says that Lear is withdrawing its financial support of PAL for its mishandling of this delicate issue.

“I believe the [PAL] plan is severely flawed [and] a terrible use of resources,” says Simoncini. “[It] does not preserve this site and provides [an] unsafe playing surface for the children,”

I’m guessing $50,000 is not the sort of money that will seriously hinder a real estate redevelopment plan, but it’s good to hear someone with a stake in all of this voting with their wallet. Here’s hoping more do and that, eventually, PAL understands that there are some things more important than saving some money at the front end of a project.

Evan Gattis undergoes surgery for hernia; recovery is 4-6 weeks

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Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle shares the bad news

One of the Astros’ big bats won’t be taking hacks when the Astros hold their first full workout on Feb. 23.

Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis recently underwent surgery to repair a hernia, the Chronicle has learned, taking away most of his spring training at a minimum. The recovery is four to six weeks but fortunately for Gattis and the Astros, the injury is not considered severe.

Gattis was working hard on his overall conditioning this winter, even telling MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart in late January that he had already dropped 18 pounds. It sounds like the big slugger might have gone a bit overboard with those workouts, and now he is in real danger of missing the first couple weeks of the 2016 regular season.

Gattis batted .246/.285/.463 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 153 games last season for the Astros. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and has a hearing with the Astros scheduled for February 16 to determine his salary for 2016. He requested $3.8 million and was offered $3 million when figures were exchanged a little over three weeks ago.

Suddenly the Astros’ front office might have a new talking point for those arbitrators.

Seung-Hwan Oh finally receives his work visa, will be on time for Cardinals camp

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At last check, new Cardinals reliever Seung-Hwan Oh was still awaiting a work visa from the United States Embassy in South Korea and there was some worry that he might not be able to arrive on time to spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But that is now officially a non-story.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Oh has recieved his work visa and is expected to report to Cardinals camp next week along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers. Oh might even show up a bit earlier than the Cardinals originally asked him to, per Goold.

Oh saved 357 games in 11 seasons between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization before inking a one-year contract with St. Louis this winter. He also registered a stellar 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts across 646 total innings in Asia, earning the nickname “The Final Boss.”

Oh is expected to work in a setup role this year for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.