Ranking the nicknames

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Not player nicknames — everyone knows “Death to Flying Things” wins that hands down — but team nicknames.  The Hardball Times’ Chris Jaffe runs them down in order of coolness-to-lameness. He likes the Mariners best — it’s unique, it’s region-appropriate — and he hates the Sox, both Red and White.

I agree with his take on the Mariners, but I think he’s got the Rockies way too high — I’ve always hated that name — and he’s really hating on the Padres (22) Mets (23) and Reds (25) way too much. Those are solid baseball nicknames, way better than some simple animal mascot.  The Braves and Indians are near the bottom too. For my part the logos and iconography involved are worse than the names themselves, but I’ll sidestep the political debate for today.

By the way, Jaffe doesn’t just write articles about team nicknames. In fact, he just published what will soon be considered the definitive book about baseball managers if it’s not considered that already. It’s appropriately titled Evaluating Baseball Managers, and can be ordered here. I got my copy a week ago. I’ll have a more thorough review when I’m done with it, but allow me to say now that I can’t put it down. It’s one of those books every serious baseball fan should have.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.