Word to The Man:
Post-Dispatch sources in Washington confirmed that Musial will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the White House. Musial will join other baseball greats who have won the award like Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente and Ted Williams. The award recipients are selected by the sitting president.
And some of you hate Obama.
This is really cool. It arises in large part due to a grassroots campaign, but even if no one had ever made a peep about it, Musial would be a worthy recipient. Not just because he was one of the most fantastic baseball players who has ever lived, but also because he, more than just about anyone, stands for the notion that a sports figure can be a role model, even if we are increasingly inclined to reject that notion. He has always been reported to be kind, decent, caring, hard working and all of the other things we wish athletes were, but usually aren’t due to their being, you know, human beings. He has given back to his community. He may truly be the last untarnished icon in baseball history. We’re just not in that business anymore. Him. Aaron maybe. Everyone else is either a bit tarnished or not an icon.
I had one brief interaction with Musial when I was a kid. It was at a memorabilia show where he was signing. My dad knew the guy running the show, so I got in early and was there when Musial showed up. When he arrived — by himself, after having driven in, not with any handlers — someone asked him if he wanted anything. Nope, I’m good, he said, don’t trouble yourself. Then he set up the table and chair where he’d be signing himself, got himself a Pepsi from a vending machine and then hung around and talked to my brother and I for a bit while waiting for the autograph-seekers to arrive. The guy was like your grandpa. The nice one.
I don’t know if that kind of thing earns you a Presidential Medal of Freedom, but it sure as hell can’t hurt. Congratulations Stan the Man.
Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.
Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.
The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.
The Rangers have reportedly agreed to a six-year, $49.5 million extension for second baseman Rougned Odor, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The extension comes with a club option for a seventh year, Heyman adds.
It’s close to the six-year, $52.5 million extension Jason Kipnis netted with the Indians in 2014, a sum Odor was rumored to be seeking during contract negotiations over the last two years. Granted, the circumstances are a little different this time around. Both players signed extensions on the cusp of their fourth year in the major leagues, but at 27 years old, Kipnis was coming off of an All-Star campaign and a career-high 4.5 fWAR performance. Odor, meanwhile, saw mixed results in 2016, batting 33 home runs and putting up 2.0 fWAR while struggling to stay consistent at the plate and exhibiting poor defense.
According to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, Odor previously agreed to a $563,180 salary for 2017. Depending on when the extension kicks in, it should cover all three of Odor’s arbitration-eligible seasons and two seasons of potential free agency. The team has yet to confirm the extension.