Umpire Fletcher looks on as Red Sox designated hitter Ortiz talks with Phillies first baseman Howard after getting a base on balls during a MLB spring training game in Clearwater

The Red Sox-Phillies series is tough for a contrarian

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I’m predisposed to being a contrarian. I’m no crazy iconoclast or uber-non-conformist — I drive an Accord for crying out loud — but that is the general impulse. If you tell me something is the best ever, I’m going to look for flaws.  If you hype something up, I’m going do my best to explain why everyone should calm down.  I honestly believe that taking such an approach aids in critical thinking, but I’m also totally prepared to admit that a good amount of the time it only makes you sound like a mild ass. Oh well. Can’t change what I am.

So you can understand my frustration at the Red Sox-Phillies series that begins in Citizens Bank Park this evening.  The two teams who were almost everyone’s pick to win the pennant. Big hitting against big pitching! A possible World Series preview!  The source of the frustration?  I can’t really argue with any of that.

I picked them to meet in the World Series before the season began, and if you put a gun to my head right now I’d say they’re still the favorites.  The Red Sox’ recent mini-slump notwithstanding, they are big hitting, leading the majors in scoring.  The Phillies have had a few bumps of their own — Ryan Madson and Roy Oswalt are out — but they still have the best ERA in baseball and it wouldn’t be easy to argue against their staff as a whole being the best in the game.

It is what everyone is saying it is.  There isn’t much room for being a contrarian here.  What an absolute drag!

Report: Brewers to sign Joba Chamberlain

BOSTON, MA - MAY 21:  Joba Chamberlain #62 of the Cleveland Indians reacts after giving up a grand slam to Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox in the seventh inning during the game at Fenway Park on May 21, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, free agent reliever Joba Chamberlain has a deal with the Brewers. No confirmation or terms of the contract have been confirmed by the team yet.

Chamberlain, 31, had a promising resurgence in the Indians’ bullpen during 2016. He shaved his ERA down to a modest 2.25 mark over 20 innings with Cleveland, paired with an 8.1 SO/9 and less-than-stellar 5.0 BB/9 rate. Over a decade in the major leagues, the right-hander holds a career 3.81 ERA, 8.8 SO/9 and 3.7 BB/9 rate.

The veteran righty was released by the Indians in July after refusing re-assignment. He’s expected to compete for a major league role this spring.

Athletics sign Santiago Casilla to two-year, $11 million deal

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 10: Santiago Casilla #46 of the San Francisco Giants throws a pitch during the 9th inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 10, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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After letting rumors of the deal percolate for the last week, the Athletics officially announced their two-year, $11 million contract with right-hander Santiago Casilla on Friday (and threw a little bit of shade at the Giants, too). As previously reported, the contract includes an extra $3 million in performance bonuses.

Casilla, 36, got his major league start with Oakland back in 2004, racking up a 5.11 ERA and four saves over six seasons in the A’s bullpen. After picking up a minor league deal with the Giants in 2010, the righty flitted in and out of the closing role with varying degrees of success. Notwithstanding a slight downturn in his production rate during the 2016 season, he earned 123 saves and a 2.42 ERA during the past seven years in San Francisco. Securing another closing role might be a little tougher across the Bay, however, with a bullpen that includes fellow closers Ryan Madson, Ryan Dull and Sean Doolittle.