Nationals, Chien-Ming Wang in talks for contract extension

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The Nationals were very patient while Chien-Ming Wang rehabbed from shoulder surgery. And now that he’s back in the big leagues, it appears they are working to keep him in the fold for 2012.

According to Bill Ladson of MLB.com, Wang’s agent Alan Nero said the two sides are in the “preliminary stages” of negotiations about a contract extension.

Wang re-signed with the Nationals last winter, inking an incentive-laden one-year, $1 million contract. Entering play this afternoon, the 32-year-old right-hander has a 4.31 ERA and 21/13 K/BB ratio in 56 1/3 innings over 10 starts since returning in late-July. He hasn’t walked a batter in each of his last three starts. The sinkerballer has a ground ball rate of 53.4 percent this season, which is almost exactly where he was when he last appeared in the majors in 2009.

Imagining Theo Epstein in politics

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“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”

That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.

Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.