Drew Storen gets first win, wears silver Elvis wig

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Drew Storen beat fellow 2009 first-round pick Stephen Strasburg to Washington by a few weeks and picked up his first big-league victory last night, for which he got not one but two shaving cream pies to the face from teammates.
Plus, as is customary for the guy Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan selects as the “player of the game” Storen donned a silver Elvis wig afterward. “The wig doesn’t look that good on me, but it’s great thing I’m wearing it,” Storen said. “I saw it before I came up here. I was really hoping I would be able to wear it.”
On a slightly less absurd note, Storen also talked about being asked to come into the game mid-inning and wriggle out of someone else’s jam: “I love it. I started doing that in college. I did it in the minor leagues. I love coming in with guys on base because of the pressure. I’m a big fan.” He’ll need to get over that enthusiasm for mid-inning jams once he becomes a closer, but for now it’s good to hear.
Storen was the 10th overall pick in last June’s draft following a great career at Stanford and blitzed through the minors with a 1.68 ERA and 64/11 K/BB ratio in 53.2 innings. After watching his first two big-league appearances, it’s easy to see how he was able to rack up those great numbers.
Storen has been exclusively a fastball-slider pitcher so far, with his fastball averaging 93.4 miles per hour and his slider clocking in at 83.7 mph. He’s thrown about three-fourths fastballs with one-fourth sliders and that combination is certainly enough to make him an elite reliever, but most scouting reports have also praised Storen for having a wide assortment of quality off-speed stuff.
In other words, expect to see him wearing the Elvis wig quite a bit.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.