There, I said it. Phew.
This topic is pretty silly to begin with, but since it’s been a relatively slow afternoon news-wise, I thought it was worth discussing. You see, during Tuesday’s near no-hitter by the Rangers, I was accused of being a jinx. Yes, it’s true. That stung a little bit at the time, but it’s not going to stop me from mentioning potential no-hitters in the future. My apologies if you hate it, but I just refuse to believe that if I mention the event in progress — as I did here on the blog on Tuesday night — it will have some cosmic effect on the actual game on the field. That’s positively bananas.
We have had five no-hitters this season, including two perfect games, the great majority of which HardballTalk has covered in progress.
April 17: Ubaldo Jimenez
May 9: Dallas Braden
May 29: Roy Halladay
June 25: Edwin Jackson
July 26: Matt Garza
And that’s not even counting how MLB Network cuts into live game action as early as the sixth or seventh inning in some cases, or how the instant-gratification of Twitter has pretty much hacked away at whatever superstitions you once held dear. We live in a world where no-hitters in progress are mentioned more frequently than ever before, yet we have had more no-no’s this season than there have been since 1990.
I don’t want to get all scientific about it, because really, whatever you believe is up to you. The Mets have never thrown a no-hitter, so perhaps the whole darn franchise is a jinx for all I know. Though, I admit Cubs fans may have an argument with me there. The point is, no, I don’t think my words had any impact on Tuesday’s outcome, nor did ESPN’s or MLB Network’s or anybody on Twitter for that matter. Neftali Feliz just happened to miss his location on a fastball to Joe Mauer, who is a pretty good hitter, it turns out.
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.