Make no mistake: the Angels are looking at Friday’s promotion of top prospect Mike Trout to the majors as a short-term fix. The plan is for the 19-year-old to help out this weekend and then return to the minors if the hamstring injury suffered by Peter Bourjos last night proves as minor as hoped.
The only way for Trout to change that is to have the weekend of his life and to convince the Halos that they’re much better off with him than they would be without. Trout possesses that kind of talent; he’s hit .324/.415/.534 as a 19-year-old in Double-A.
Still, it’s going to be a tough sell. Bourjos is the Angels’ lone outfielder not making a boatload of money, and he’s exceeded expectations offensively this season while playing center as well as anyone in the majors. Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter have both been big disappointments, but Wells finally found his stroke last month and it’s hard to imagine the Angels sending Hunter to the bench.
There is one route the Angels could go, but it’d be a big risk: they could release Bobby Abreu. Abreu is getting on base 40-percent of the time as the team’s primary DH, but he has just three homers and 35 RBI in 85 games. Of course, he’s been more productive than Wells or Hunter, but unlike those two, he has no defensive value at all.
Still, the real reason for the Angels to consider releasing him is that he’s 74 plate appearances away from having his $9 million option for next season vest.
If the Angels did cut him, they’d most likely face a grievance and it’s possible they’d end up paying him that $9 million anyway.
Plus, Abreu still has value, even if he’s not worth $9 million per year anymore.
So, Abreu will likely stick and Trout will probably head back to the minors next week and stay there until Sept. 1 or one of the aforementioned players lands on the DL.
But it would be fun to see him force the issue.
When he’s not throwing baseballs, Twins pitcher Trevor May is an active gamer. He streams on Twitch, a very popular video game streaming site, fairly regularly and now he’s officially on an eSports team. Luminosity Gaming announced the organization added May last Friday. It appears he’ll be streaming and commentating on Overwatch, a multiplayer first-person shooter made by Blizzard Entertainment.
May is the only current athlete to be an active member of an eSports team. Former NBA player Rick Fox owns Echo Fox, an eSports team that sports players in games including League of Legends, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Street Fighter V, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Mortal Kombat X. Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is also a known advocate of eSports.
The NBA in particular has been very active on the eSports front. Kings co-owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov launched NRG eSports in November 2015. Shortly thereafter, Grizzlies co-owner Stephen Kaplan invested in the Immortals eSports team. Almost a year later, the 76ers acquired controlling stakes in Team Dignitas and Team Apex. The same month, the Wizards’ and Warriors’ owners launched a group called Axiomatic, which purchased a controlling stake in Team Liquid, a long-time Starcraft: Brood War website which has since branched out into other games. And also in September 2016, Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko bought team Renegades, moving them to a group house in Detroit. In December 2016, the Bucks submitted a deal to Riot Games in order to purchase Cloud9’s Challenger league spot for $2.5 million. The Rockets that month hired someone specifically for eSports development, focusing on strategy and investment. Last month, the Heat acquired a controlling stake in team Misfits.
Once an afterthought, eSports has grown considerably in recent years and now it should be considered a competitor to traditional sports. League of Legends, in particular, is quite popular, reaching nearly 15 million concurrent viewers at its peak in the most recent League of Legends World Championship. That championship featured a prize purse of $6.7 million with $2 million of it being split among winner SK Telecom T1’s members.
The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.
Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.