If there is anyone wondering why TMZ sports never took off, look no further than this article in the St. Pete Time about the Rays’ Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann. I submit that there are way, way more ballplayers with their particular obsession than there are ballplayers who like to go to clubs and movie premiers and stuff:
His routine hasn’t changed much since his days at Lake Wales High School. Everywhere he has played (New York, Carolina, Florida) he has gone head-to-head with the best in the game — brown trout, brook trout, smallmouth bass. You name it, he has caught it.
“I’ve fished anywhere and everywhere,” he says. “If I am driving down the highway and see a pond, I’ll make a note of it, come back after work and see if it has any fish.”
Baseball players are rarely the big men on campus in high school or college, assuming they even go to college. An overwhelming number of them come from places like Florida, Georgia and Texas. If they didn’t marry their hometown sweetheart they married some model who — rather than catapult the player into the jet set — herself transformed back into a small town girl.
It’s kind of sweet actually. Most of these guys remind me of my brother in law back in West Virginia. Who — and I am not making this up — holds multiple state fishing and hunting records and serves as an officer in multiple clubs that determine whether various hunting and fishing techniques conform to various throwback standards that they all care about (retro is huge in certain sportsman’s circles, apparently). When I visit he asks me what jig (or whatever) he should use to catch thusandsuch fish and asks my opinion about the workmanship of the latest bow he constructed. It’s gotten to the point that he doesn’t even wait for my blank stare to start chuckling at me.
But I don’t fight back because when the apocalypse comes he’s the only guy I know who’s going to be able to feed his family, and we’re totally squatting at his compound.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.
Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.
The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.
Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.