American League All-Star Ortiz poses with the trophy after winning Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby in Anaheim

Are you ready for the excitement of the Home Run Derby?

31 Comments

I’ll spare you all of my grousing about the Home Run Derby. Some people like it. Some people don’t. If you’re in the former camp, mazel tov. If you’re in the latter, may I suggest that you watch “Batman: Under the Red Hood,” which is streaming on Netflix?  I watched that on Saturday and was really impressed with it.  If neither of those things are to your liking, feel free to spend this evening writing letters to Major League Baseball, petitioning them to move the Futures Game to Monday night when some people will actually watch it.

That aside, we have a Home Run Derby tonight. They went with team captains picking the participants this year, with David Ortiz for the American League and Prince Fielder for the National League. The field breaks down like so:

American League: Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista and Robinson Cano.

National League: Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Matt Kemp and Matt Holliday.

You have to like the Americans here, simply for the presence of Bautista and former champ Ortiz.  Oddsmakers — because for some damn reason people actually bet on this stuff — like the AL squad too, with Bautista and Ortiz holding the best odds of winning the thing. But you can’t count out Prince Fielder given that he is, after all, a former Derby champ himself.

I have to say that I agree with what a lot of people are saying, however, in that it would have been fun to see some batting practice freaks in this thing. Jayson Stark has a column on it today, and he makes a good case for guys like Wily Mo Pena — who had national writers lobbying for his inclusion — Mike Stanton and even Bryce Harper to get involved. Guys whose trouble with same-handed pitchers and difficulty with offspeed junk would not have been a problem for them in the Derby setting. Pure power. Shock and awe.  Would have been a lot of fun.

Screw it, I won’t spare you the entirety of my grousing. Indeed, the best ever complaint about the Home Run Derby — voiced by Will Leitch four years ago — still holds true: “Why does an event that has eight participants require nine people to cover it?”

With that in mind, as you’re watching it this evening, listening to Chris Berman and his back-backs and listening to all of the former jocks say “man, he really hit that one!”  ask yourself: is this more about baseball, or is it more about TV, money, selling ads and killing time?

Diamondbacks, A.J. Pollock avoid arbitration with two-year contract

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock drives in two runs against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
AP Photo/Gary Landers
1 Comment

Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.

Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.

Report: Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson agree to two-year, $29 million extension

Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson celebrates his two run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the third inning in Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Toronto. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
4 Comments

The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.

The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.

Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday

San Francisco Giants'  Brandon Belt reacts after being called out on strikes by home plate umpire Jim Joyce to end the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game Friday, Sept.. 4, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
2 Comments

Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.

Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.

Padres sign veteran utility player Skip Schumaker

Cincinnati Reds' Skip Schumaker is tagged out at home plate by San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
1 Comment

The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.

While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.