Anyone who was at the Phillies-Nationals game or watched it on TV yesterday was well-aware that the joint was overrun by Philly fans, but I hadn’t realized how overrun until I read some of the commentary about it all this morning: “tens of thousands” of Philly fans came to Washington yesterday, many as the part of a concerted, group-ticket-purchasing effort.
I lived in D.C. for three years and it’s obvious that most people there come from someplace else, thereby explaining the lack of deep, city-wide loyalties to any sports teams not named “Redskins.” And heck, even the Redskins are more of a social networking event these days than a true rooting interest. But to get shown up so terribly on Opening Day in your own ballpark is just poor.
There have to be 40,000 die-hards in a region of five million. The team can’t choose who they sell their tickets to, but they can structure their promotions to do more to develop a local interest, can’t they?
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.