Chipper Jones to retire after this year

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Chipper Jones swing.jpgUPDATE: O’Brien Reports that Jones is meeting with Bobby Cox and GM Frank Wren today and that afterward he will address the media.  It seems apparent that announcing his retirement is the purpose of the meeting and press conference.

11:00 A.M.: David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution just tweeted that, while unconfirmed, Chipper Jones has told people that he’s going to retire at the end of the season.

This would not shock me. He already made noises about this last season and earlier this season, and he has been a non-factor as the Braves have climbed into first place in the NL East.  When he has played Jones has hit .228/.375/.341.  His primary replacement, Omar Infante, has hit .314/.351/.387.

It would be one thing if the Braves were playing terrible baseball — maybe Jones would feel like he was badly needed or something — but any sensible person in Jones’ position would realize that, however hard it is to admit, the Braves simply don’t need his production anymore.  And though I respect Chipper Jones as a player and am grateful for all of his accomplishments on the field, I look at the $26 million he’s owed for 2011 and 2012 and wonder just how much the team could be improved if it was devoted to finding an outfielder or two. I bet he thinks about that too. At least when he’s not thinking about how nice it would be to spend more time fishing and stuff.

Still no official word from Jones or the team, of course, but let’s speculate about a couple of things.  First point of speculation is not exactly a stretch: if Jones retires after this year, he joins Ken Griffey Jr. as a first-time inductee in 2016.  I think this is a lock. He’s one of the top third basemen of all time, he has an MVP Award, a World Series ring, a reputation for coming up big in big situations, he’s never been accused of PED use and he was the one offensive constant (or at least near-constant) for the Braves’ run of division titles.  I’ll take — and subsequently dismiss — counterarguments in the comments.

Second bit of speculation, but much, much wilder: Chipper Jones gets named as the Braves’ new manager next year.  OK, maybe that needs about ten more “wilds” in front of it, but he’s been at Bobby Cox’s right hand for the past 16 or 17 seasons, he’s smart, and he has what seems like the right kind of temperament to handle the job.

Does he have the desire? Hell if I know, but at least it gives us something to talk about while we wait for Jones and/or the team to either confirm or deny O’Brien’s report.

The St. Louis Cardinals announce their first Pride Night

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The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they will hold their first Pride Night on August 25th.

A lot of teams have Pride Nights, but it’s worth noting that the Cardinals are holding one given some bad press — some fair, some unfair — they have received in recent years when it comes to matters of diversity and inclusion.

Earlier this month the club received criticism from the LGBT community due to Lance Berkman’s presence for the team’s annual Christian Day, given his past comments about transgender people and his participation in a Houston political campaign over access to public restrooms. Recently, a former Cardinals minor league player claimed he left baseball after enduring anti-gay comments from his coaches and teammates.

As club president Bill DeWitt III noted in the official announcement however, the Cardinals have hosted LGBT groups in the past. He says that the club is eager to “remind fans that everyone is welcome at Busch Stadium.” He notes that the event will raise money for the PrideSTL Scholarship Fund which, in DeWitt’s words, “help courageous students in our community.”

Nice move, Cardinals.

Johnny Cueto expected to opt-out of his deal after the season

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Johnny Cueto signed a six-year $130 million deal with the Giants prior to the 2016 season. In his first season he went 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 219.2 innings, helping lead the Giants to the playoffs. This season has been rocky for Cueto — he’s got a a 4.42 ERA in 15 starts and has battled blisters — but they’ve been far rockier for the Giants overall, as they sit in last place in the NL West and have the second worst record in baseball.

Many suspect that the Giants will either rebuild or, at the very least, restructure some in response to this nightmare year. If so, they’re likely going to be doing it with Cueto, who Jon Heyman reports is going to opt-out of his deal:

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto is planning to opt out of his contract at the end of the year, but he would listen to any extension offer . . . Cueto has $84 million to go over four years. It would probably take an injury or major slump for Cueto not to opt out. But it makes sense that he will.

Heyman says the Giants are not inclined to give him an extension, so expect to see Cueto on the free agent market three days after the World Series ends, which is the deadline for him to exercise his opt-out rights.