I read a lot of political blogs and think a lot of political thoughts. And despite the fact that I often pretend to be a flaming commie, I’m actually a fairly middle-of-the-road guy. I mean, I lean left on many things and I’m pretty far left on a lot of social issues, but I have an inherently small-c conservative disposition and I’m farther right on a lot of other things than you may imagine based on the stuff I stay around here. If there’s a label for guys who would legalize soft drugs and gay marriage and put the screws to big business and the finance industry while simultaneously relaxing or repealing many gun laws and imposing fairly severe budget austerity, I haven’t seen it. Just a political mutt I guess.
But I know this much: for all of my personal political hangups, I don’t presume to know enough about either politics or policy to write intelligently about it for general consumption. No matter how strong my feelings on, say, health care or the budget debate, I won’t lay it on you here, partially because it’s not what you expect when you come here, but mostly because I just don’t have the depth of knowledge or insight to make it worth anyone’s while.
Would that political bloggers feel the same way about sports! Like, say, Conor Friedersdorf. Who I like an awful lot as a political blogger, but who has an absolute batsh** crazy post up over at the Atlantic about how to fix sports in light of our collectively shrinking attention span. Here’s his baseball suggestion:
Presumably I’ll never persuade purists to eliminate a whole inning. So I’ll offer my next best suggestion: allow managers one opportunity per game to borrow an out or two from a later inning. So it’s the bottom of the third. There are two outs, with men on first and third. Your batter strikes out. And you can decide to borrow an out or two in order to try and drive in those runs… but it’s going to cost you, because once the current inning ends the opposing manager gets to decide at his leisure when to charge you that out or two. Yes, this would make it harder to compare players from different eras. But let’s be honest. Steroids and changing ballparks have already robbed us of that.
I’m not sure what part of “one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ballgame” Friedersdorf doesn’t understand. But given his small-c conservative tendencies, I am rather shocked that he would actually propose with a straight face — at least I think a straight face — something so inherently radical for a sport that values tradition more than just about any institution you could name.
There’s a lot going on in politics right now, Conor. You go take care of that and just leave the sports to us, OK?
Bud Norris has found a home for his attempt at a bounceback season, signing a one-year deal with the Braves. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says it’s worth $2.5 million, which is a huge cut from his $8.8 million salary this year.
Norris had established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter from 2009-2014, but had a brutal 2015 season split between the Orioles and Padres with a 6.72 ERA in 83 innings and a late-season move to the bullpen.
In announcing the signing the Braves referred to Norris as a starting pitcher, so joining the rotation for a rebuilding team gives him a chance to get his career back on track with an eye on hitting the open market as a free agent again next offseason. And if he fares well, the Braves could use him to add a prospect or two at the trade deadline.
The number of people who, if you held a gun to their head, would say that “Rex Brothers” was a game show host and/or local TV news personality from the late 1970s or early 80s is not insignificant. But if you’re a Rockies fan or if spend all day thinking about baseball you know that he’s a reliever who has played in Colorado for the past five years. Now you know him as a reliever for the Cubs:
Brothers — a former Best Shape of His Life All-Star — was pretty good until he hit a brick wall in 2014 and spent most of 2015 in Triple-A. He had something of a bounceback after being called up when rosters expanded in September, but that’s not the sort of thing to excite anyone. He could be useful for the Cubs or just spring training cannon fodder and organizational depth.
Cabrera just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago and pitched a grand total of 14 games in the Dominican Summer League. He’s young and was a $250,000 signee from the Dominican as a 16-year-old so, by definition, he’s a project. Worth giving up Rex Brothers for him if you’re the Rockies, worth risking for some depth in the pen if you’re the Cubs.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.
Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.
He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.
Jed Lowrie, who was traded from the Astros to the A’s in 2013 and then re-signed with the Astros as a free agent last offseason, has now been traded back to the A’s.
Lowrie got a three-year, $23 million deal from the Astros with the idea that he’d play shortstop in the first season and then move to another position whenever stud prospect Carlos Correa arrived. Instead he got hurt right away, Correa became an immediate star, and the Astros weren’t so keen on paying him $15 million over the next two seasons.
He could resume playing shortstop for the A’s, who watched rookie Marcus Semien make an absurd number of errors there this year. Lowrie hit .271 with a .738 OPS in two seasons in Oakland, which is similar to his career totals and makes him a solidly above-average offensive shortstop. There’s a decent chance the A’s will have a Lowrie-Lawrie double-play duo in 2016.
In return the Astros get minor leaguer Brendan McCurry, a 24-year-old right-hander who split 2015 between high Single-A and Double-A with a 1.86 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio in 63 relief innings. He was a 22nd-round draft pick in 2014 and doesn’t have exceptional raw stuff, but McCurry’s numbers are incredible so far.