Oakland will no longer enforce Lew Wolff's unconstituonal sign policy

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I missed this one from last week, but given that today seems to be all about Constitutional rights and unruly fans and everything, it’s timely enough.

The Athletics had a fan removed from the Coliseum last month for holding up a sign that said “Wolff Lied. He Never Tried,” obviously referring to owner Lew Wolff’s comments about how he’s done everything he could to keep the team in Oakland as opposed to moving it down to San Jose. No word on whether the fan with the sign was tased in the process of being removed, but he probably deserved it if he was, because the sign could have had a hidden death laser in it or something. You just never know!

Going forward, however, the Athletics are going to have to put up with the critical signs, because the city has decided that the Athletics’ policies against the signs violates the First Amendment. Indeed, Oakland’s city attorney said that “the A’s may not impose restrictions against personal attacks or bad taste — unless the restrictions are explained by a legally compelling reason.”

Since we seem to have so many Constitutional law scholars reading the blog today, I don’t have to tell you that those reasons include the incitement of violence or material that is obscene to local standards. Which, considering this is the East Bay, is pretty much nothin’.

So feel free to fly your Anti-A’s flags in the Coliseum, folks. Even if doing so makes Lew Wolff try even harder to get his team in a private facility where he can control every single thing you do.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

Brandon Belt
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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system in baseball

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Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!

Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.