UPDATE: The Indians replacing Mark Shapiro as GM

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UPDATE: OK, so it wasn’t Manny Acta’s hat. The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting — albeit a bit speculatively — that the presser is to announce that Indians’ assistant GM Chris Antonetti is going to replace Mark Shapiro as GM, who will get kicked upstairs to be the team’s president.  The change, however, would not take place until after the 2010 season.

This is odd. Not the choice — Antonetti is well-regarded by almost everyone who knows his work — but the timing.  If the Indians really wanted to can promote Shapiro, they would have or at least should have done it at the end of 2009. As it was they had a lame duck making all the moves this winter. Another possibility: The team wants to lock in Antonetti — who has been a candidate for a handful of other openings in the past couple of years — before any vacancies open up elsewhere this year and the chatter starts again.

Either way, it puts just about everything the Indians have done this winter — and everything they will do this season — in a new light. 

8:32 A.M.:  OK, that was quick. Castrovince now tweetsNo way it’s Russell Branyan-related.” So Acta-hats it is. 

8:28 A.M.: MLB.com’s Indians beat guy Anthony Castrovince tweets that the Tribe has called a press conference for 1:30 PM Eastern.  I’m assuming this is regarding Russell Branyan — who the Indians have offered a minor league deal — if for no other reason than because the Indians haven’t been rumored to be courting anyone else. 

I suppose there are other potential reasons for a press conference — maybe Manny Acta got a new hat or something — but until I hear otherwise I’m going to assume it’s Branyan.

Check out Minute Maid Park without Tal’s Hill

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During the offseason, the Astros finally got rid of Tal’s Hill in center field. It was a throwback to older stadiums, some of which had uneven topography — Crosley Field, namely. As unique as it was in the age of cookie cutter sports stadiums, most of us were holding our collective breaths hoping no one ruptured an Achilles or suffered another brutal injury trying to navigate the hill while attempting to catch a fly ball.

We saw what it looked like during reconstruction:

And now, via Julia Morales of ROOT Sports, we see what it looks like after all the work has been done:

The Astros are allowing fans with Lexus Field Club tickets to stand on the new warning track to watch batting practice and shag fly balls as well, Morales notes. Lexus Field Club is where Tal’s Hill used to be.

Good riddance, Tal’s Hill.

Jhoulys Chacin will start Opening Day for the Padres

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Jhoulys Chacin will start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will be Chacin’s second Opening Day start, the other coming in 2013 with the Rockies against the Brewers. He’ll be the fifth different Padres pitcher in as many years to start on Opening Day.

Chacin, 29, inked a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Padres in December. The right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Braves and Angels, compiling an aggregate 4.81 ERA with a 119/55 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Lin notes that Chacin will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver. It will be an interesting rotation, to say the least, as it will arguably be the worst in baseball.