Rockies sign Willy Taveras to minor league deal

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The Rockies have signed outfielder Willy Taveras to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training, according to the team’s Twitter feed.

This is a homecoming of sorts for Taveras, who batted .320 with a .367 on-base percentage and .748 OPS with the Rockies during the team’s World Series run in 2007. Baseball’s version of a rotten hot potato, this is actually Taveras’ sixth organization in the past year.

He signed with the Nationals last February after being designated for assignment by the A’s, but was released last May after batting .200 over his first 35 at-bats with the club. He had brief minor league stints with the Phillies, Braves and Rangers from there, but didn’t find his way back to the major leagues.

Though the 29-year-old outfielder offers plenty of speed and defensive ability, he has been one of the least productive players at the plate since the start of the 2008 season, putting up a lowly .581 OPS, the lowest during that timespan among players with at least 1,000 plate appearances.

Here’s the ugliness in full detail:

1. Willy Taveras – .581 OPS

2. Cesar Izturis – .596 OPS

3. Jason Kendall – .635 OPS

4. Bobby Crosby – .637 OPS

5. Andy LaRoche – .637 OPS

6. Brendan Ryan – .641 OPS

7. Gerald Laird – .644 OPS

8. Carlos Gomez – .647 OPS

9. Ronny Cedeno – .649 OPS

10. Pedro Feliz – .651 OPS

Good grief. Sorry to ruin your dinner, but this is a boring Monday.

There is, indeed, an MLB-to-Portland group

Associated Press
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On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”

There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.

It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:

On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.

“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”

One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.

None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”