In which two guys travel the country watching baseball and we get all jealous…

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Steve Gebhardt and John Tramutolo, two editors from Manhattan-based COED Magazine, set out on a wild trip around the baseball world this summer.  They’re hitting all 30 major league cities in 30 days, watching a game at every stadium and talking to locals about pregame bars and good ballpark eats.  Oh, and they’re blogging about all of it.

The fellas passed through St. Louis on Thursday and I had the opportunity to express my jealousy with a quick round of questions. 

A little background first: Where are you guys based?  What teams do you root for?

John
and I are both from the NY/NJ area and we now work in Manhattan at COED
Magazine where I am the Editor-in-Chief. I grew up in Randolph, NJ and
my parents brought me home from the hospital in a mini NY Yankees
jacket so I guess you can say I’ve been a diehard fan for life.

Where have you guys been so far and where are you headed now?

We
started the trip on Friday, July 16th at Yankee Stadium and have seen
Fenway, Camden Yards, Wrigley, Target Field, Busch Stadium and Great
American Ballpark in that order . We have visited 7 parks so far and
will be hitting one stadium each day for the next 23 days.

Overall, what’s been the best stop?

Hands
down St. Louis. We were so well received by the Cardinals Nation! Our
Twitter followers were extremely active, the Cardinals organization was
very receptive, B.J. Rains (of FOX Sports Midwest) helped us out a ton by spreading the word to
his contacts and we even got a shout out on TV during the 4th inning.

How much planning went into this, or is a there a “let’s just wing it” aspect to the trip?

It
took a few strenuous days to get the scheduling right. We typically
have a ‘fly by the seat of our pants’ attitude so this is the first time
where we have every day for the next 3 weeks of our lives broken down
by the hour. With that said the “let’s just wing it” attitude certainly
comes into play when we are in the middle of a 9 hour drive between
cities. As you could imagine timing is extremely important on this trip
but luckily Nokia provided us with a couple Nuron smartphones so we’ve
been using Ovi Maps to help direct us from point to point.

Of the ballparks and cities you’ve yet to visit, which one (or ones) are you looking forward to most?

Steve:
Definitely San Francisco’s AT&T Park. I’ve heard great things and if I
can find a boater to take me into McCovy Cove during batting practice
my trip will be complete.

John: At the beginning of the trip I
was looking forward to Kauffman in Kansas City the least but after
talking to a few people at Mike Shannon’s about cool ballparks in the Midwest it is now turning out to be my most anticipated. Where else can
you play a game of wiffle ball in the stadium while watching an MLB
game?

You can follow their daily travels on COEDMagazine.com, Facebook and Twitter.

Astros sign Carlos Beltran to one-year, $16 million deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 9: Carlos Beltran #36 of the Texas Rangers hits an RBI against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning during game three of the American League Division Series at Rogers Centre on October 9, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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The Astros have reportedly agreed to terms with free agent DH/outfielder Carlos Beltran for a one-year, $16 million contract, per ESPN’s Buster Olney. The deal includes a complete no-trade clause, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Beltran elected to return to the Astros after fielding offers from the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. He appeared in Houston during the second half of 2004, batting .258/.368/.559 with 23 home runs in 399 PA and making his first postseason run to the tune of a .435 average and eight homers as the Astros battled their way through to a seven-game loss in the Championship Series. Beltran also played with Houston manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach Alex Cora in separate stints with the Royals and Mets, which the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan cited as possible influences in the Astros’ decision to pursue the free agent.

In 2016, Beltran split the season between the Yankees and Rangers after getting dealt at the deadline for a package of right-handed pitching prospects. He was stationed in right field for the majority of his time in New York, but was almost exclusively utilized as a designated hitter over 52 games in Texas. Between the two clubs, he batted an impressive .295/.337/.513 with 29 homers and earned his ninth career All-Star designation to boot.

The veteran slugger is expected to fill a similar role on the Astros, who need a full-time DH but could use some additional support in the outfield corner. Olney envisions a lineup with Beltran in the five-spot, per an earlier report:

Rays and Braves reportedly interested in Welington Castillo

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits an RBI double in the third inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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Catcher Welington Castillo was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks on Friday, making him one of 35 additional players to enter the free agent pool. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Castillo was drawing interest from the Rays, among a bevy of major league clubs, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien added that the Braves have “some interest” as well.

The Rays’ trifecta of catchers — Curt Casali, Luke Maile, and Bobby Wilson — did little to inspire confidence behind the plate in 2016, and with top free agent Wilson Ramos sidelined after suffering a torn ACL in September, it makes sense that they’d explore more affordable options. Castillo profiled well at the plate during his first full season with the Diamondbacks, slashing .264/.322/.423 with 14 home runs in 457 PA. Behind the dish, he placed third among all qualified major league catchers with seven DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), though his league-leading 10 passed balls weren’t anything to write home about.

Unlike the Rays, the Braves have a serviceable catching platoon in Tyler Flowers and Anthony Recker. Beyond that, their catching depth is fairly shallow despite the recent addition of former Mariners’ outfield prospect Alex Jackson. Jackson, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley, has not played behind the plate since high school, though GM John Coppolella is reportedly interested in trying him there again. A.J. Pierzynski is also rumored to be seeking a deal elsewhere in free agency, which could open the door for a multi-year deal with Castillo.