I’m torn: on the one hand I would love Major League Baseball to ban the use of smokeless tobacco by players. On the other hand, there aren’t many things I hate more than when Congress decides to stick its nose in baseball’s business:
Two Democratic senators are asking baseball commissioner Bud Selig to ban all tobacco use in the sport, specifically citing smokeless products. Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey are suggesting that Selig push for a ban as part of the negotiations in the players’ collective bargaining agreement later this year.
They sent letters to Bud Selig and Michael Weiner to that effect. They said that they were inspired by the same Washington Post article we all read a couple of weeks ago in which Stephen Strasburg said that Tony Gwynn’s battle with cancer inspired him to try to quit dipping. You know, the cancer Gwynn had that was almost certainly not caused by smokeless tobacco.
Between Congress’ involvement and that Gwynn misinformation, all of this is is going to lead me into a deep “is it OK to do the right thing for the wrong reasons?” think-hole that will render me unproductive for the rest of the day.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.