UPDATE: Pujols responds to the no-show claims

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UPDATE: Sam Mellinger, who ran the original story this morning regarding Albert Pujols and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, received a response from Pujols’ foundation:

Sam,

Albert’s wife, Deidre is expecting their fourth child this week. She
has been given “any minute” status from her doctor since last Monday.
Albert has asked us not to accept any interviews or appearances that
would take him away from his wife for more than a few hours at a time.
(Personally I am surprised that he left Dee Dee alone to make the quick
trip to KC, even for the day.)

Never forget, the ‘game’s greatest player’ is also a husband and a
father. Those are two roles he will always put before personal
achievement, awards or accolades. Knowing Albert, as I do, I can safely
tell you that in no way was his absence meant as a sign of disrespect
to the Museum, it’s history, or it’s it’s staff. Albert’s mind was
simply focused on finishing his obligation in KC (the hitting clinic)
and getting home to his pregnant wife in St Louis.

I appreciate you standing up for the Museum. They need a champion
right now. But, your blog seemed a little heavy-handed torwards a guy
who clearly did the right thing. Remember, there are always two sides
to every story.

Peace,
Todd Perry
Executive Director, Pujols Family Foundation

Like I said this morning, Pujols’ history entitled him to a response before we cast judgment. Now he’s responded, and put any judgment I would have had in the drawer for someone more deserving. Sure, I’ll observe that part of the problem was reported to be Pujols’ failure to be clear with the museum regarding whether he’d come or not and that a clear and early “no” would have prevented there being an issue, but I think that’s a good enough answer. I have a couple of kids and had out of town trials scheduled around each of their due dates, so I know how nerve wracking it can be to be several hours from home when the bun is about to emerge from the oven.

Case closed as far as I’m concerned.  Now: everyone take a trip to Kansas City and visit the museum. And if you can’t make it there personally, at least consider becoming a member.  It’s a really fabulous place and it deserves some support.

12:28 P.M.:  The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is in financial trouble.
Though this is reason for concern, this is not exactly news, as the
Museum has been struggling for a few years now. But on a weekend when
the Museum gave out their Legacy Awards, Albert Pujols didn’t help matters any:

Too bad baseball’s best player didn’t come to make it better. The
museum gave him two awards. He accepted neither in person, and didn’t
record a video thank you like several others who couldn’t show up —
and like he’s done in the past.

Pujols was in Kansas City this weekend, you know. He worked a
hitting clinic and signed autographs for kids at a facility in north
Kansas City on Sunday. Word is he drove from St. Louis and back to do
the clinic – a good
cause on its own – so he could spend more time with his family. The
problem with that is he owns a house in Kansas City. The other problem
with that is there are hotels in Kansas City . . . If Pujols would’ve
come to be honored, the museum surely could’ve
sold more tickets in a year they’re in desperate need of money.

No one is obligated to do anything of this nature, and given Pujols’
history of being an eminently standup guy it’s probably worth hearing
his explanation for leaving the Museum in the lerch before casting judgment. Still, given how much trouble the joint is in, they really didn’t need this.

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

Navin Field
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

evan gattis
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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

Screenshot 2016-02-09 at 8.01.48 PM
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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.