Pirates claim Garrett Olson off waivers from Mariners

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One of the benefits of finishing with the worst record in baseball last season is that the Pirates still have the No. 1 waiver priority and they used it today to claim Garrett Olson after he was let go by the Mariners.

I once thought Olson had a future as a solid mid-rotation starter for the Orioles, but he didn’t last long in Baltimore and wasn’t much better in Seattle, bringing a 6.20 career ERA with him to Pittsburgh.

As a fly-ball pitcher with a high-80s fastball there isn’t much upside to be had, but the former first-round pick is still just 27 years old and could stick as a serviceable left-handed middle reliever.

More importantly, as Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing notes Pittsburgh has added Garrett Olson to an organization that already boasts Garrett Atkins, Garrett Jones, and Scott Olsen. So obviously the season won’t be a total loss for the Pirates. Plus, that’s a helluva beard.

The Angels to lower the right field wall

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The Los Angeles Angels announced today that they will lower the right field wall at Angel Stadium from 18 feet to eight feet.

The stated reason: to make room for a new out-of-town scoreboard and “philosophical changes.” Obviously, though, helping out lefty power hitters is on the agenda too. As it was, Angel Stadium was in the bottom ten of all parks in allowing homers for lefties.

One of their own lefties is Kole Calhoun, who is a pull hitter. Another one could be Shohei Ohtani, who is a lefty hitter. Although, as a righty pitcher, that could harm him against opposing lefty batters. I’m assuming, though, that the Angels ran a bunch of numbers to establish that this move helps them more than it hurts them, or else they wouldn’t be doing it.