Personally, I like that the Nationals are honoring Andre Dawson tonight. The Expos are the Nats’ direct ancestor, and there’s no one else left around to honor the old warriors of Montreal.
But not everyone feels this way. Nats’ fan/blogger Chris Needham thinks that, with all due respect to the Expos’ legacy, the Nats need to embrace Washington baseball, not Montreal baseball:
Should the Nats honor their direct lineage? Or should they honor
their figurative fathers? Is Steve Rogers the greatest pitcher in
Washington Nationals history? Yes. At least if you’re a literalist.
There are no Montreal Expos anymore. Kaput. Neither are there
Seattle Pilots. Or St. Louis Browns. Or Boston Bees. Or Cleveland
Infants. Or any of about a bazillion-and-one former baseball teams.
Off to the dustbin of history they should go. Lets read about ’em in
books. The Nationals aren’t the Expos. The Orioles aren’t the Browns.
The Brewers aren’t the Pilots. Even if they’re all related.
Chris’ point is not to hate on the Expos, but to note that — as far as the fans are concerned — the local is what really matters. The Senators that became the Twins and the Rangers mean more to Washington baseball fans than they do to those in Minnesota and Dallas. By the same token, how are Nats’ fans supposed to react to a celebration of an Expos team that doesn’t mean all that much to them from a baseball perspective?
I’ll note that on some level this is a false dichotomy — with 81 home games a year and virtually unlimited ballpark space for plaques and flags and stuff, the Nats can easily honor both the Expos and the old Senators — but Chris’ overall point is a good one.
Baseball historians and Expos geeks will be happy to see Andre Dawson at Nats Park tonight. The common Washington baseball fan, however, will feel a greater connection to the Nats if they make a point to honor and promote the legacies of Frank Howard and Walter Johnson than those of Les Expos.
Because at the end of the day, all politics is local.
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:
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.