Brad Hawpe will go to Single-A for now after signing minor league deal with Rays

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Brad Hawpe’s deal with the Rays is official. He signs a minor-league contract after being released by the Rockies earlier this month and will report to Single-A for now.
Hawpe hasn’t played since August 18, so the Rays will give him some at-bats in the minors and then likely call him up before rosters expand Wednesday, making him eligible for the postseason roster.
Hawpe’s performance in Colorado was sub par for his standards this year, but .255/.343/.432 is still reasonable production and he posted an OPS above .875 in each of the previous four seasons. He’s also a career .274/.369/.470 hitter with an average of 24 homers per 550 at-bats away from Coors Field, so as a part-time designated hitter who can give the Rays another solid left-handed bat against right-handed pitching Hawpe is a very worthwhile pickup
Plus, because the Rockies are footing the bill for his $7.5 million salary and $500,000 buyout for 2011 the Rays are on the hook for merely a prorated share of the minimum salary.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.