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.

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.

Nationals acquire closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 20:  Mark Melancon #35 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies on May 20, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images
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The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.

Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.

With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.

Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.

Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.

The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.