I mentioned a long time ago that I was participating in a simulation league for media guys. The game: Rob Neyer Baseball. It’s a historical league based on the Diamond Mind platform, and I am owner/general manager/manager of the Matewan Massacre. Other owners include Neyer himself, Jonah Keri, ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes, Baseball Prospectus’ Rany Jazayerli, Josh Wilker of Cardboard Gods fame, FanGraphs’ Carson Cistulli and many others. It’s been a load of fun, but the season is almost over.
I’ve done well: I beat Mr. Neyer’s very own team to advance to the World Series, but
make no mistake about it: I’m an underdog against Jazayerli’s team, The Process, which finished the year with the best record in the league. He’s up 1-0 after a gem by his ace, Brett Saberhagen, and probably has a better top-to-bottom club than I do, but I have not yet given up.
The Massacre won its division with an 88-74 record, powered by an MVP season by Barry Bonds (.299/.421/.585 43 HR, 124 RBI in what turned out to be a really low-offense league). Don’t look at me that way; the Massacre does not have a morals clause in its player contracts. Heck, my backup shortstop is former Chicago Black Sox Swede Risberg for cryin’ out loud. My rotation — which surprisingly became a strength as the season wore on — is populated by several fat, alcoholic 1940s and 50s pitchers. The closest thing I have to model citizens on the team are Luis Sojo and Clint Hurdle, but they were bench warmers all year. We’re all about winning in Matewan.
Game 2 of the World Series will take place later today, with three games tomorrow and the final two on Saturday if necessary. I’ll let you know how my fellas do. If they win, Katie bar the door, because they know how to celebrate right-proper down in Matewan.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.