I started the day with Joe Morgan, so I’ll end the day with Joe Morgan.
I think I’m in the distinct minority in not really celebrating his departure from ESPN. I can live with that. I belong to a lot of distinct minorities. People who like Dylan’s signing voice for its own sake. People who prefer “Next Generation” to the Original Series. People who have had restraining orders issued against them for excessive handsomeness. It just goes with the territory of being a well-rounded gentleman.
But I can’t ignore the dissenting voices. The loudest and most effective of which on the subject of Joe Morgan came five years ago when Tommy Craggs wrote the definitive piece on what Morgan has become and what he means to the state of broadcasting and baseball thought. If you haven’t read it, by all means, take the time, as it’s still relevant, if not for Morgan himself, but for his many like-minded cohorts in the biz. The only dissent I’ll offer is that, while everything Craggs writes is correct and important to our consideration about the man, it’s entirely possible to not to know any of that stuff and not have it affect our baseball watching one iota. I know that’s an odd claim coming from me given that I go meta on the media and overanalzye everything, but it’s how I feel. Maybe it’s caused by lingering affection for some old Joe Morgan cards. I can’t say.
Finally, when you’re done with Craggs’ piece — or better yet, before you jump into it because it’s long and you’ll want more context — read Emma Span’s take over at Bronx Banter. I think she frames the matter perfectly. The upshot: in a perverse way, we needed Joe Morgan to come into our living room on Sunday nights like the Batman needs Joker. He completes us. We need him on that wall, etc.
Now: who has dibs on “Fire Orel Hershiser?” Because I smell a blogging opportunity!
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.