Dodgers sign Matt Guerrier to three-year, $12 million contract

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Matt Guerrier has been linked to Boston throughout the offseason, but Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein is said to be against the idea of handing out three-year contracts to relievers and Erik Boland of New York Newsday reports that Guerrier has agreed to a three-year deal with the Dodgers believed to be worth $12 million.

Guerrier is a Type A free agent, but the Dodgers won’t have to part with a draft pick because the Twins declined to offer him arbitration for fear that he’d accept and force them into a $5 million commitment for 2011.

Guerrier spent seven seasons in Minnesota as one of the most underrated relievers in baseball, posting a 3.38 ERA and .247 opponents’ batting average in 472 innings while twice leading the league in appearances. He’s had an ERA above 3.50 just once in six full seasons as a reliever and has made 70-plus appearances in each of the past four years.

However, he’s shown some signs of decline at age 32, as his strikeouts per nine innings have dropped from 7.0 in 2007-2008 to 5.4 in 2009-2010. His fastball velocity was also down about one mile per hour this year and Guerrier is a fly-ball pitcher whose secondary numbers (strikeouts, walks, ground-ball rate) have never been quite as strong as his ERAs. Los Angeles is getting a very capable, durable setup man, but the three-year commitment is a risky one.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.