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“Moneyball” earns $20.6 million in strong opening weekend

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“Moneyball” looks like a mini-hit, as the movie made $20.6 million in its opening weekend while narrowly finishing behind “The Lion King 3D” ($22.1 million) and ahead of “Dolphin Tale” ($20.3 million) at the box office.

Claude Brodesser-Akner of New York Magazine places “Moneyball” among the “weekend winners” and reports that the audience was evenly split between males and females while 64 percent of the people who saw the movie during its first three days at the theater were over 35 years old.

“Moneyball” has a 94 percent “fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes–my review was also positive, but with some caveats–so presumably it’ll have a pretty decent shelf life beyond the solid opening week. With a budget under $50 million it should turn a significant profit pretty easily.

All of which is why Calcaterra and I will be pitching “HardballTalk: The Movie” to various Hollywood studios later this week. And by “pitching” I actually mean “wasting time on Google Chat talking about which far-too-good-looking actors should play us.”

My preferred choices are Don Cheadle or Jonah Hill, assuming the latter is willing to put all the weight he lost back on for the role. Calcaterra will be played by the long-deceased Telly Savalas, obviously.

Report: Teams have inquired with the Angels about Hector Santiago

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 20:  Hector Santiago #53 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 20, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported on Monday that the Angels have received inquiries from multiple teams concerning starter Hector Santiago. He adds that the club is willing to listen to offers. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports and MLB Network reports that the Marlins are among the teams that have inquired.

Santiago, 28, has pitched to a 4.32 ERA with 96 strikeouts and 47 walks in 110 1/3 innings. Sabermetric statistics such as FIP, xFIP, and SIERA think the lefty has pitched even worse than his ERA indicates however, pitting 2016 as his worst performance to date.

Santiago is earning $5 million this season and will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility going into 2017.

We also learned earlier that, in an effort to bolster their starting rotation, the Marlins have also shown interest in Wade Miley of the Mariners and Jeremy Hellickson of the Phillies.

Prince Fielder will undergo season-ending neck surgery this week

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 10: Prince Fielder #84 takes a swing during a game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on June 10, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners won the game 7-5. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
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The Rangers placed DH Prince Fielder on the disabled list last week due to more neck discomfort. On Friday, Fielder met with Dr. Drew Dossett, who performed spinal fusion surgery on Fielder in 2014 for a herniated disk in his neck. Dossett has recommended another procedure, so Fielder will undergo season-ending surgery this week, Jeff Wilson of the Fort-Worth Star Telegram reports.

Fielder was having a rough season, batting .212/.292/.334 with eight home runs and 44 RBI in 370 plate appearances. He played in only 42 games in 2014, but returned in 2015 looking more like his old self. Unfortunately, neck and back issues are notoriously difficult to fix. Hopefully, this upcoming procedure does the trick for Fielder.

Fielder is owed $24 million per season through 2020, with the Tigers paying $6 million of it per season.