When I saw that FOX is going to debut Justin Bieber’s new video prior to Game 3 tomorrow, my first impulse was to scoff, as people of a certain age and disposition always scoff at whatever teen sensation is out conquering the world at any given moment.
But my second thought is to appreciate the move as pretty brilliant. Not just for Justin Bieber’s marketability — who cares? — but for baseball’s.
Game 3 is the early start game, with the first pitch going down before 7PM. The early start combined with all that Bieber Fever is going to ensure that a ton of young, impressionable minds are going to be watching. While I predict that the vast majority of the Bieber people will go off to shop for glittery lip gloss or trade Silly Bandz or whatever it is Bieber people do once the video is over, even a tiny percentage of those folks is a big number of people. If they stay, and if they watch, baseball may do what it’s always accused of being unable to do, and that’s attract some young fans.
A pipe dream? Maybe. But not every baseball fan was created via a nice game of catch with dad or watching the Brooklyn Dodgers through a knothole or whatever the hell old Brooklyn Dodgers fans claim they used to do. Some fans just happened to see baseball on TV once and it caught their fancy. If three minutes of bubblegum pop makes even a couple thousand new baseball fans, I for one will be happy to endure it.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.