The Indians create a blogger press box

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Indians script.gifMaybe “press box” is the wrong term, but SportsBusiness Daily’s Eric Fisher reports on what sounds like a cool little initiative:

The Indians have created the Tribe Social Deck at Progressive Field, one
of the first major efforts under a new social media strategy being
pursued by the club. The 10-seat section in the ballpark bleachers is
being occupied each game by bloggers and other social media users and
influencers with the aim of furthering the Indians’ roots within social
media channels.

The section has a wireless hookup and a TV monitor. It likely also has beer-availability and no rule against cheering, so I’m struggling to think why I’d rather be in the real press box instead of what sounds like a nice little setup out in the bleachers (which in Cleveland are pretty good seats as far as bleachers go).

According to the article it’s an invitation-only kind of thing, which is probably the only way such a beast can be handled given that there is almost zero barrier-to-entry in becoming a “blogger and other social media user and
influencer.”  This creates a tension, of course, in that the folks who sit in this section may feel pressure to spin the team and its efforts in a positive light lest they not be invited back again.

This, however, can be handled. The onus is on the team to make it clear to everyone that they don’t expect pro-team propaganda from the chosen bloggers or tweeters or whatnot. The first time someone comes in and rips the Tribe — fairly, and with at least some sense of decorum of course — and gets invited back again such fears will be put to rest.

Basically, as long as the Indians’ press people are not seen as trying to use the limited access to control the message they will find that letting the bloggers in will work to the team’s advantage, even if the bloggers are critical. Maybe even especially so, as it will send a signal that the team is not oblivious or hyper-sensitive to criticism. Fans will tolerate tons of losing baseball because they’re fans. They won’t tolerate it, however, if their team seems more preoccupied with p.r. than winning.

So. Progressive Field is exactly 137 miles from my house. They’re letting blogger-types into the bleachers, giving them wireless internet and everything. I’m not sure how one gets on the invite list, but I’m thinking road trip.

Report: The Nationals are still in on Chris Sale and Andrew McCutchen

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 05: Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning on September 5, 2016 at U. S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
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The Nationals are trying to go big this offseason, and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes that they are still in trade talks for White Sox’ left-hander Chris Sale and Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Both players figure to command a big return, as Sale delivered another Cy Young-worthy performance in 2016 and, despite a downturn in his production rate, McCutchen is still one of the more coveted sluggers in the National League.

In 2016, Sale led the league in complete games, with six, and turned in a 3.34 ERA and 5.2 fWAR in 226 2/3 innings. While teams have been sniffing around the White Sox’ ace since the trade deadline, the club is expected to maintain a high asking price — so high, said FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, that it may keep the left-hander in Chicago for the foreseeable future.

According to Heyman, four other teams are reportedly in the mix for Sale, including the Red Sox, Astros, Rangers, and Braves, though parts of Rosenthal’s tweet hinted that the Red Sox were maintaining their interest in hopes of striking a more affordable deal. Should the Nationals pursue a deal for Sale, it’s likely that they’d have to move shortstop/center fielder Trea Turner, which they appear reluctant to do.

McCutchen, meanwhile, is also drawing interest around the league after batting .256/.336/.430 with 24 home runs in 675 PA during 2016. He didn’t appear to lose much power in his eighth season with the Pirates, but took considerably fewer walks and struck out at a career-high clip.

The Nationals were said to be in the lead for McCutchen on Thursday, and there was some expectation that the club would wrap up a trade for the center fielder by the non-tender deadline on Friday. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi pointed out that the Rangers were also talking to the Pirates, however, and no deal has come to fruition as of yet.

Astros sign Carlos Beltran to one-year, $16 million deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 9: Carlos Beltran #36 of the Texas Rangers hits an RBI against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning during game three of the American League Division Series at Rogers Centre on October 9, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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The Astros have reportedly agreed to terms with free agent DH/outfielder Carlos Beltran for a one-year, $16 million contract, per ESPN’s Buster Olney. The deal includes a complete no-trade clause, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Beltran elected to return to the Astros after fielding offers from the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. He appeared in Houston during the second half of 2004, batting .258/.368/.559 with 23 home runs in 399 PA and making his first postseason run to the tune of a .435 average and eight homers as the Astros battled their way through to a seven-game loss in the Championship Series. Beltran also played with Houston manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach Alex Cora in separate stints with the Royals and Mets, which the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan cited as possible influences in the Astros’ decision to pursue the free agent.

In 2016, Beltran split the season between the Yankees and Rangers after getting dealt at the deadline for a package of right-handed pitching prospects. He was stationed in right field for the majority of his time in New York, but was almost exclusively utilized as a designated hitter over 52 games in Texas. Between the two clubs, he batted an impressive .295/.337/.513 with 29 homers and earned his ninth career All-Star designation to boot.

The veteran slugger is expected to fill a similar role on the Astros, who need a full-time DH but could use some additional support in the outfield corner. Olney envisions a lineup with Beltran in the five-spot, per an earlier report: