Rob Neyer debuts at SB Nation

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So many eulogies for Rob Neyer’s career yesterday. And here he is today, with his first column up at his new gig over at SB Nation less than 24 hours later.  Faster than the speed of Internet!

The subject of his first column: writing, naturally. He kicks off with a fun anecdote about the time a colleague got bent out of shape over something Neyer said in the comments section of the other writer’s column:

Without meaning to, over the years I’d annoyed most of my other colleagues … and nearly all of them with reputations as incredibly nice guys. So I figured it must be me. I hastily e-mailed this particular colleague to apologize.

His response: “Rob, no problem at all. I just thought the comments section was for them, not for us.”

This isn’t the place to enumerate the differences, for most of my career anyway, between me and the great majority of baseball writers in the mainstream media. They did finally let me into the Baseball Writers Association of America a few years ago, which I appreciated, plus (did I mention this?) they really are a bunch of really nice guys. And I’m not making value judgments here.

One difference, though, is that I’ve never thought of myself as a member of us rather than them.

This hits home.  I’ve said a lot of things in this blog about other writers’ work but easily the angriest any other mainstream baseball writer has ever gotten at me came as a result of something I said — something rather innocuous actually — in the comments section of a blog.  Like Rob’s former colleague, I’m certain the other guy’s disdain had to do with the setting — down with the teeming masses — rather than the sentiment.

There’s something truly twisted about that. Something that I think is related to that stuff we were discussing recently about civility in comments sections.  Of course comments sections are going to get uncivil if you treat their inhabitants as if they’re unwashed hordes. In the Internet age, the line between fan and writer is a lot blurrier than it used to be. And that’s a good thing.

SB Nation has some professional writers and it also has a lot of amateur part timers.  Rob’s sensibility, as he clearly explains in his first column, is that it doesn’t matter who’s doing the writing. What matters is the message.  In light of that, Rob and SB Nation are a perfect fit.

Good luck, Rob.  Everyone else: adjust your bookmarks accordingly.

Yankees sign top two draft picks

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The Yankees signed first-round draft pick Clarke Schmidt and second-round pick Matt Sauer on Saturday, per a team announcement. Schmidt, a right-hander from the University of South Carolina, is set to earn a signing bonus of $2,184,300. According to MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin, that’s much lower than the typical $3+ million allocated for a No. 16 overall pick. The opposite is true for Sauer, whose projected $2.5 million signing bonus tops the suggested $1.2 million reserved for a No. 54 pick.

Schmidt, 21, boasts an impressive four-pitch repertoire and profiles as a front-end or mid-rotation starter, according to reports from Yankees’ VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer and ESPN’s Keith Law, among others. He carried a 4-2 record through nine starts in 2017 and turned in a 1.34 ERA before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery last month to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow. While the Yankees won’t see him pitch at any level until late 2018, they seem confident in his makeup and ability to rebound over the next couple of years.

Fellow right-hander and Righetti High School senior Matt Sauer is a different story altogether. The 18-year-old hurler appears destined for the bullpen with a polished fastball-slider combo and a promising curveball and changeup. He dazzled on the mound this year, going 9-1 with an 0.98 ERA and two shutouts over 78 1/3 innings. While the Yankees seem most interested in his pitching skills, Sauer showed some pop at the plate as well, touting a .427 average with 24 RBI through 135 plate appearances.

Three A’s rookies hit their first big league home runs on Saturday

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The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.

Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:

Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:

In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.

The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.