Great Moments in trash talking

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The Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen relished spending Christmas in New Jersey because he could use the time to taunt his Yankees-fan relatives:

As the snow and the wind got worse, all the people from North Jersey who were supposed to come for dinner wimped out. They called to cancel. Of course, they cited the weather. We knew better. They weren’t about to drive a couple of hours down the Jersey Turnpike in whiteout conditions to listen to some jerk from Boston talk about how great the Red Sox were going to be, how great the Patriots are, how there is no other city in America that could run the table in 2011: football, basketball, hockey, baseball. We could win ’em all. No other city can even come close to saying that.

I sometimes chafe at the unrelenting passive-aggressive tendencies of Midwesterners. I long for people in my neck of the woods to be a little more open with their feelings and let things out rather than have everyone smiling politely at everyone else while they secretly seethe. But then I realize, hey, at least there’s a passive component of passive-aggressiveness. And no one ruins Christmas dinner with this kind of silliness.

Anyway, between the offseason the Red Sox are having and the offseason the Phillies are having, this is shaping up to be one of the loudest and most boastful springs in living memory.

Former Yankees prospect Manny Banuelos signs a minor league deal with the Dodgers

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Remember Manny Banuelos? He was once a top pitching prospect for the Yankees and then, apparently disappeared from the face of the earth. Or at least it felt like it. Now he’s in the news, however, as the Dodgers have signed him to a minor league contract.

OK, Banuelos didn’t disappear. He was traded to the Braves in 2015, had a cup of coffee with them, pitching pretty ineffectively in seven big league games, was released by Atlanta in the middle of 2016 and then latched on with the Angels. This past season he posted a 4.93 ERA over 95 innings while being used mostly as a reliever at Triple-A Salt Lake.

Banuelos pitched in the Future’s Game in 2009 and was a star in the Arizona Fall League in 2010. He was a top-50 prospect heading into 2011 before falling to Tommy John surgery in 2012. With Atlanta he suffered some bone spur problems and then some elbow issues that never resulted in surgery but which never subsided enough for him to fulfill his potential either. He suffered injuries. A lot of pitchers do.

It’s unrealistic to think that Banuelos will fulfill the promise he had six years ago, but he’s worth a minor league deal to see if the 26-year-old can at least be a serviceable reliever.