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HBT Weekend Wrapup

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Things you missed this weekend while you made checklists of all of the stuff you’re going to need to do to prepare for your ten-day trip to Arizona which begins on Wednesday:

  • Domonic Brown is probably going to be the Phillies’ starting right fielder, but Cholly would like him to sweat a bit before handing him the job;
  • Michael Young showed up to Rangers’ camp.  Sadly, everyone was professional about it (well, mostly). I had really been hoping that Young would throw crap all over the floor and knock over furniture, after which Vernon Wells would talk about how it’s such a shame that the Rangers don’t keep their clubhouse clean and tidy.
  • Miguel Cabrera needs a doctor’s signoff before he can start spring training. Apropos of his patient, the doctor came in, stinking of gin, and proceeded to lie on the table.
  • The Madoff bankruptcy is going after Tim Teufel too.  Quick! Someone tell me if Irving Picard is a righty or a lefty so we can see if Wally Backman can be of any use here.
  • Garrett Wittels’ 56-game hitting streak ended. Buy hey, look on the bright side Garrett: you still have that rape trial to look forward to.
  • Brett Tomko signed a deal.  So did Matt Belisle. The former broke into the bigs in 1997 and the latter in 2003, but if you asked me in an unguarded moment, I’d guess that each one of them has been pitching for approximately 124 years.
  • I hope you’re sitting down for this: Scott Boras is probably going to be the agent for the #1 overall pick this summer.
  • Mark Teixeira calls the Yankees underdogs. Fair enough: if you consider the AL East to be a two-team race, sure, they’re underdogs.  But if the Yankees go on to win the World Series, I will not tolerate any “no one believed in us” talk, because that’s a bridge too damn far.
  • Hunter Pence beat the Astros in his arbitration hearing. It was the last arbitration of the year.  Which is nice, because now I don’t have to listen to anyone talk nonsense about “midpoints” again. Sure, fine: most arbitrations that settle do so around the midpoint between the player and the team’s offers.  But just because one settles below or above the midpoint doesn’t mean a player “won” or “lost” when he settles, as I’ve seen some people say.  Knowing that most of these things settle and knowing that most settle around the midpoint, won’t the player attempt to come up with a higher number and the team lower than they might otherwise do?  As such, hearing that a player settled below or above the midpoint doesn’t mean anything. A below-the-midpoint settlement may be a win for the player who never figured he’d get what he asked for.  Oh well, who cares? Arbitration is kind of boring to me to be honest and I’m glad it’s over.
  • Jimmy Rollins predicted that the Phillies will win 100 games.  I sure hope no one made a big deal out of this. I mean, (a) the Phillies are good, so even if you are conservative and acknowledge that it’s hard to win 100 games, it’s not like 100 is an absurd number; and (b) it’s Jimmy Rollins and confidence is kind of his thing.  Someone wake me up when a meek player on a crappy team predicts 100 wins. Better yet, someone tell me when someone on the Pirates says “If we win 60, I’ll be shocked, because we’re really crappy.”
  • Kevin Millwood to the Yankees: Drop Dead.  Well, he didn’t really say that, but I’d like the Post to drag that one out again.
  • I don’t think there has been a time in history when more ink was spilled over a player showing up on his reporting date.  And who cares about early?  I used to work with a guy at the Ohio State bookstore who would come in early every day. He’d sit on the loading dock and smoke until everyone else got there. Didn’t really change the game any.
  • Alex Rodriguez lost ten pounds this winter.  Just like A-Rod to do something so selfish and embarrassing. God, when will he stop trying to be the center of attention?
  • Brandon Webb had two years of trouble with his shoulder. Then when he came back at the very end of last season, he couldn’t throw it anywhere near normal velocity. Now he’s having shoulder problems. I sure hope no one is surprised about this.  People freak when they hear about Tommy John surgery, but way more guys come back from that than serious shoulder problems.
  • Cliff Lee has a mild strain in his side. This is not a repeat from 2007 or 2010.

Sorry to rub it in about my trip to the desert. But press registration for the fabulous Cactus League is already underway, and I have to get there by Wednesday to claim my sound-proof suite. A fashionable sporting website in New York has taken care of the reservations … and I am, after all, a professional journalist; so I have an obligation to cover the story, for good or ill.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.