The beauty of spring training is that the ballparks are so cozy and intimate that you can hear conversations going in in the stands. That is also the curse. Marc Topkin of the St. Pete Times:
Rays manager Joe Maddon summoned security to remove a fan – wearing an Orioles jersey – who he said was yelling racist comments at CF B.J. Upton in the dugout duing Sunday’s game at Charlotte Sports Park.
“He said something racial and I didn’t like it,’’ Maddon said. “He can say whatever he wants, but don’t go there. And I didn’t want B.J. to go up into the stands or do anything at that point. So I just wanted to make sure he was taken out of there. There is no room for that at all.’’
A man who said he was the ejected fan went on Twitter later Sunday, claiming Maddon lied and he said nothing racial.
Topkin, however, reports that Maddon, Upton and multiple Rays’ coaches did too. I’m not exactly sure why Maddon would lie about such a thing. If you gave me a list of 300 major league managers and asked me which one would be most likely go after a rude but not racist heckler, I figure Maddon would be around my 299th or 300th choice. Say what you want about him, but being distracted by petty stuff is not really his m.o.
Everyone has First Amendment rights. Not everyone has carte blanche to exercise them to their fullest extent on private property. Good for Maddon for having a total jackwagon run out of the joint.
Hey, the hot stove is finally generating some real fire …
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Tigers have agreed to terms on a contract with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. It’s a five-year deal worth around $110 million, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.
This should have a domino effect on a loaded starting pitching market. David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Jeff Samardzija are just a few of the names still out there.
Zimmermann, 29, posted a 3.66 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 164/39 K/BB ratio in 201 2/3 innings this past season for the Nationals. He had a 2.66 ERA in 2014 and threw a no-hitter on the final day of the regular season.
Zimmermann’s free agency is tied to draft pick compensation because he rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Washington, but the Tigers finished with one of the 10-worst win-loss records in 2015 so their first-round pick in 2016 is protected. Detroit will give up its second-round pick instead.
Here’s a pretty good way to finally break out of that turkey-induced Thanksgiving tryptophan coma.
It’s a compilation of the 10 longest home runs from the 2015 season, with MLB.com’s Statcast technology providing data along the path of each blast …
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.