I watched Mark Whiten hit four homers against the Reds in 1993 and thought it was really something. Yesterday Whiten played in the Hall of Fame Classic and hit two out, winning the game’s MVP honors. He also won the pre-game home run derby.
It’s a different game now that active major leaguers don’t play in it. Instead it’s an all-star old timers affair. This year it was Team Harmon Killebrew against Team Bob Feller. The Fellers beat the Killers 9-0. 9-0 is also the score that is officially applied to forfeits, so without looking I’m going to assume that the game was suspended after Killebrew threw 22 bats on the field, swore a blue streak at everyone and then got into a fistfight, because that’s just the kind of guy he is. The game story is in the first link above if you want to see what really happened. Don’t ruin it for me, though.
Anyway, among the players taking part were Whiten, Gary Carter, Goose Gossage, Rollie Fingers, Phil Niekro, Ozzie Smith, Paul Blair, Bill Madlock, Mike Pagliarulo and Jeff Kent.
Kent’s inclusion almost doesn’t seem fair given how recent it was that he retired. He played last year too and won the home run derby. Not a surprise considering he probably could have started for a dozen or two major league teams if he were so inclined. The fact that he got beat by Hard Hittin’ Mark Whiten this year made me smile a bit.
I know a lot of people raised a ruckus when they changed the Classic from a real game with major leaguers to an old timers thing a couple of years ago, but really, I think I would enjoy the old timer thing much more.
Note: an earlier version of this post referred to Mark Whiten as merely “hittin’ Mark Whiten” and not “Hard Hittin’ Mark Whiten.” I apologize for the massive and inexcusable gaffe. I don’t bring a hell of a lot to this party, but one thing I do bring is a pretty insanely detailed knowledge of trivia relating to players whose prime fell roughly in the 1970-1995 period. For me to whiff like that on one of those players borders on the criminal. I’ll try to regain your trust, but I understand if this oversight was the last straw.
MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.
Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.
The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.
This will be Happ’s second stint with the Blue Jays. The Astros dealt him to Toronto in a July 2012 trade. He posted a 4.39 ERA with a 256/113 K/BB ratio in 291 innings with the Jays, then went to the Mariners in a trade this past December that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays.
CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Rich Dubroff reports that the Orioles are “searching everywhere” for outfield help. The club recently acquired L.J. Hoes from the Astros in exchange for cash considerations, throwing him into a stable of six outfielders that could potentially crack the Opening Day Roster.
Adam Jones, of course, will open the season in center field. But in the corner outfield and on the bench, Dubroff lists Hoes along with Dariel Alvarez, Junior Lake, David Lough, Nolan Reimold and Henry Urrutia. Both Lough and Reimold are eligible for arbitration — Lough for the first time, and Reimold for his third and final year — so it remains to be seen if the Orioles will retain both of them.
The Orioles could target outfield help in the Rule-5 draft, and they could also target outfielders in free agency. Gerardo Parra, acquired by the O’s in a trade with the Brewers at the trade deadline, remains a possibility but the team is reluctant to offer him more than two years.
MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports that the Indians have signed catcher Anthony Recker to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.
Recker, 32, has spent the past three seasons with the Mets, compiling an aggregate .190/.256/.350 batting line with 15 home runs and 51 RBI in 432 plate appearances. He’ll serve as catching depth for the Indians.
Recker was selected by the Athletics in the 18th round of the 2005 draft. They then sent him to the Cubs in exchange for Blake Lalli in an August 2012 trade, and the Mets selected him off waivers from the Cubs in October 2012.
When last we posted about Yasiel Puig it was to pass along a rumor that the best player on his team wants him off of it. If that was true — and if this report is true — then expect that sentiment to remain unchanged:
Obviously this report is vague and there has not been, say, a police report or other details to fill it in. Perhaps we’ll learn more, perhaps Puig was misbehaving perhaps he wasn’t.
As we wait for details, however, it’s probably worth reminding ourselves that Puig is coming off of a lost season in which he couldn’t stay healthy, so trading him for any sort of decent return at the moment isn’t super likely. Which leads us to some often overlooked but undeniable baseball wisdom: you can be a distraction if you’re effective and you can be ineffective if you’re a good guy. You really can’t be an ineffective distraction, however, and expect to hang around very long.