Dallas Braden and A-Rod: what a difference a week makes

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Braden celebrates.jpgIt was just over two weeks ago when Alex Rodriguez walked over Dallas Braden’s mound — maybe on purpose, maybe not — kicking off a petty little feud in which no one has come off looking particularly classy.

Braden barked about it being “his mound” like he was unhinged. A-Rod looked like a pompous ass making reference to Braden’s “handful of wins” after the game. Braden looked like a low-rent wannabe something or other with his “we don’t do much talking in the 209” rebop last week.  A-Rod continued the pattern of classlessness just this weekend by claiming he didn’t want to comment any further because he didn’t want to extend Braden’s “15 minutes of fame,” clearly implying that Braden wouldn’t have any basis for fame separate and apart from that which A-Rod gave him.

That’s certainly not the case anymore. Braden is part of one of baseball’s most exclusive fraternities, becoming one of the nineteen men in history to throw a perfect game.

A-Rod seems to sense that the narrative has shifted.  Reached by reporters at Fenway Park immediately after the perfect game, Rodriguez said: “Good for him.
He threw a perfect game, and even better, he beat the Rays.”
That’s about the best answer one can give in the situation. He acknowledged the feat and kept it to baseball. The matter, at least from Rodriguez’s perspective, seems to be closed.

For his part, Braden didn’t say anything provocative after the game, holding true to the alleged rep of his home area code and tacitly agreeing with A-Rod to bury the hatchet. That is, unless Rodriguez is going to respond to Braden’s grandmother.  She was at the game and, according to Susan Slusser of San Francisco Chronicle, had this to say the moment someone shoved a microphone into her face: “stick it, A-Rod!”

That’s funny, but ultimately inconsequential, because I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that A-Rod isn’t about to go after Braden’s grandmother.  It’s Mother’s Day. Let her have the last word.

And let us close the book on the Braden-Rodriguez feud. Each got their shots in, each had their bad moments, but it ended with a perfect game on a sparkling Sunday afternoon, and that means baseball wins.

But then again, baseball always wins, doesn’t it?

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

Braves 2
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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.