Mark Cuban is always a popular topic of conversation around here. To feed that jones, go read Jayson Stark’s column today assessing Cuban, baseball’s opinion of him and his chances of one day becoming a baseball owner. Here’s the highlight of the column, though. It’s a baseball insider quoted by Stark, summing up Bud Selig’s impression of Cuban:
“Bud does not have any interest in an owner who wants to be The Story. … Also, Bud’s not interested in owners who are going to overtly challenge him publicly.”
Process that a bit while you think about Frank McCourt, who has been both The Story and a gigantic pain in Bud’s kiester for the past year or two. The point: you never know what you’re gonna get, so you may as well make sure that whoever you let in the club is well-funded.
My thing on Cuban: I know he was in the bidding for the Cubs for a bit, and I know he was outbid for the Rangers as a minority partner with Jim Crane last year. But do we know how hard he pressed for the Cubs? After he was left out of subsequent rounds of bidding, he had a lot to say about the deal not making perfect sense for him. Same story about upping his bid in the Rangers’ thing.
While we like to think that Cuban has been blackballed, is that really the case? Has he truly gone after a team full-bore, only to be rejected because of who he is? Or is it, as is almost always the case, a bit more complicated than all of that?
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.
Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.
Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.
Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.
Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.
How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.
As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.