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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.

Dodgers sign Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million deal

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs in game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.

Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.

Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.

UPDATE: Giants agree to a deal with Mark Melancon

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Mark Melancon #43 of the Washington Nationals reacts after the final out as the Nationals defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-3 in game three of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.

12:15 PMKen Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.

Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.

The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.

What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.

Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.