Bacon-wrapped hot dogs, Erin Andrews and more All-Star fun


ANAHEIM, Calif. — I heard they were going to be serving hot dogs wrapped in bacon at the All-Star game in Anaheim, so naturally I had to go.

In addition to the bacon-wrapped goodness, they’ll have a sampling of foods from other MLB ballparks, including Crab Dogs from Baltimore, Blake Street Burritos from Denver (no Rocky Mountain oysters?), and pulled pork BBQ nachos from Houston.

But I’m not just here for the food, but to take in the sites and pass them on to you, the faithful HBT reader. First things first, the weather is gorgeous in Anaheim. The clouds/smog burned off around noon, leaving sunny weather in the low 70s with the hint of a breeze.

Taking in the Futures Game now, with much of the buzz surrounding Angels prospect (naturally) Mike Trout, an 18-year-old playing in the Class-A Midwest League. Another Angels minor leaguer, AAA catcher Hank Conger, blasted a 3-run homer in what has become a U.S, rout.

Random things seen/heard:

  • The Rangers sold 14,000 walk-up tickets for Cliff Lee’s debut on Saturday night. And even though they gave up a lot in the trade with the Mariners, the word is that they didn’t mind because their system is so deep. Also, I’m guessing they smell blood in the water with the Angels struggling.
  • Erin Andrews is more attractive in person. So is Peter Gammons.
  • The last All-Star game in Anaheim was in 1989, when Bo Jackson stole the show with a mammoth home run and ended up being named the game’s MVP.

But did you know that the only other All-Star game in Anaheim was in 1967, a 2-1 victory for the NL that lasted 15 innings. Catfish Hunter pitched 5(!) innings in relief and took the loss. Wonder what Bruce Bochy would do to Charlie Manuel is Manuel pitched Tim Lincecum five innings on Tuesday. Things have changed a bit, I guess.

  • More on Bo Jackson: He’s playing in the Legends and Celebrity Softball Game tonight, which will also include Mike Piazza, Rickey Henderson and Dave Winfield, among others. The list of celebrities includes MC Hammer, Michael Clarke Duncan, and an actor named Marcus Giamatti, who is the son of Bart, and brother of Paul. Maybe Marisa Miller can save the show.
  • There are now approximately 80 players on the All-Star rosters due to injuries and withdrawals. Thank goodness this isn’t T-ball where everyone has to get a turn to bat.
  • Don’t forget to check out the big home run derby contest here, where you can win the right to be a big-time sports blogger for one whole post. It’s glamorous, trust us.

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Mariners interested in free agent outfielder Nori Aoki

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New Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has kept pretty busy in his short time on the job and Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that free agent outfielder Nori Aoki could be his next target. The club recently pursued a trade for Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, but the asking price has them looking at alternatives.

Aoki, who turns 34 in January, has hit .287 with a .353 on-base percentage over four seasons since coming over from Japan. He was having a fine season with the Giants this year prior to being shut down in September with lingering concussion symptoms.

The Giants decided against picking up Aoki’s $5.5 million club option for 2016 earlier this month, but he should still do pretty well for himself this winter assuming he’s feeling good.

Report: Johnny Cueto is believed to be looking for a $140-160 million deal

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It was reported Sunday that free agent right-hander Johnny Cueto had turned down a six-year, $120 million contract from the Diamondbacks. He’s hoping to land a bigger deal this winter and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has heard some chatter about what he’s looking for.

Jordan Zimmermann finalized a five-year, $110 million contract with the Tigers today, which works out to $22 million per season. Arizona’s offer to Cueto checked in at $20 million per season. A six-year offer to Cueto at the same AAV (average annual value) as Zimmermann would put him at $132 million, which is still a little shy of the figure stated by Crasnick. Of course, Cueto owns a 2.71 ERA (145 ERA+) over the last five seasons compared to a 3.14 ERA (123 ERA+) by Zimmermann during that same timespan, so there’s a case to be made that he should get more. Still, he’s the clear No. 3 starter on the market behind David Price and Zack Greinke.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, and Cubs are among the other teams who have interest in Cueto. One variable in his favor is that he is not attached to draft pick compensation, as he was traded from the Reds to the Royals during the 2015 season.

Report: Around 20 teams have contacted the Braves about Shelby Miller

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The rebuilding Braves have already been active on the trade market and they might not be done, as CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that right-hander Shelby Miller has been a very popular name. In fact, around 20 teams have checked in.

Nothing is considered close and the Braves have set a very high asking price, mostly centered around offense. They asked for right-hander Luis Severino in talks with the Yankees and would expect outfielder Marcell Ozuna among other pieces from the Marlins. The Diamondbacks and Giants are among the other interested clubs.

Miller is under team control through 2018, so there’s not necessarily a sense of urgency to move him, but anything is possible with the way the Braves are doing things right now. The 25-year-old is coming off a year where he went 6-17, but that was about really rotten luck more than anything else, as he had a fine 3.02 ERA and 171/73 K/BB ratio over 205 1/3 innings. The Braves gave him the worst run support of any starter in the majors.

Mets expected to tender a contract to Jenrry Mejia

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 12:  Jenrry Mejia #58 of the New York Mets reacts as he walks off the field after getting the final out of the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field on July 12, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
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Jenrry Mejia appeared in just seven games this past season due to a pair of suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets are expected to tender him a contract for 2016.

While the Mets were vocal about their disappointment in Mejia’s actions, it makes sense to keep him around as an option. Had he played a full season in 2015, he would have earned $2.595 million. He’s arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and figures to receive a contract similar to his 2015 figure, but he’ll only be paid for the games he plays. He still has 100 games to serve on his second PED suspension, which means that he’ll only be paid for 62 games in 2016. This likely puts his salary closer to $1 million, which is a small price to pay for someone who could prove useful during the second half and beyond. He also won’t count toward the team’s 40-man roster until he’s active.

Mejia, who turned 26 in October, owns a 3.68 ERA in the majors and saved 28 games for the Mets in 2014. He’s currently pitching as a starter in the Dominican Winter League.