Aaron Hill

Report: Diamondbacks, Aaron Hill come to terms on two-year deal

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A strong six-week audition landed Aaron Hill a two-year, $10 million contract with the Diamondbacks, the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro reports.

Hill, a pretty abysmal regular in his final year and two-thirds with the Blue Jays, hit .315/.386/.492 in 33 games after coming over from Toronto with John McDonald for Kelly Johnson in August. The second baseman, who turns 30 in March, carried the hot streak into October, going 5-for-18 with a homer and five walks in the NLDS loss to the Brewers.

Hill had a career year in 2009, when he hit .286/.330/.499 with a whopping 36 homers and 108 RBI. However, he fell off to .205/.271/.394 in 2010 and continued to struggle for 4 1/2 months this year. Prior to his run with Arizona, Hill hit .225/.270/.313 in 396 at-bats with the Jays.

The $10 million bet seems a reasonable one for the Diamondbacks. Hill remains a bit above average defensively at second base, and it’s entirely possible that he’ll reemerge as a 25-homer guy next year. It probably won’t come with a very good OBP, so he’s better cast as a No. 6 or 7 hitter than the No. 2 man he’s often been in the past. Still, one could argue that he’s the best bet of the second basemen available, with the aforementioned Johnson serving as his top competition.

Marlins granted permission to interview Larry Bowa

Larry Bowa
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The Miami Marlins, despite not having technically fired Dan Jennings, are actively interviewing for a new manager. Their latest target is a familiar name: Larry Bowa.

Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports on the coaching staff shakeup with the Phillies and, in the course of it, notes that the Marlins have asked and have been granted permission to interview Bowa, who is currently the Phillies’ bench coach. He has been offered a contract for 2016 by the Phillies, but he has never made a secret of his desire to manage again and has interviewed a few times over the years. Bowa, of course, managed the Padres in 1987 and 1988 and managed the Phillies from 2001 into the 2004 season.

As recently as a year ago it seemed unlikely that Bowa would get another look for a top job anyplace, what with baseball’s seeming eschewing of the crusty and feisty old managerial types in favor of young, inexperienced managers who had just recently retired from playing. But given how poorly that’s gone for most clubs — the Marlins included with Mike Redmond — this could be a winter in which we see a bunch of those old salty types returning.

Champagne after a loss? Why not?

Astros Wild Card

There was some hockey person last week arguing about how it was silly or untoward for baseball teams to celebrate clinching wild cards or other, less-than-championship-level accomplishments. Calling it bush league or lacking in act-like-you’ve-been-thereness or what have you. I can only imagine what he’d say about the Astros celebrating with champagne following (a) winning a wild card; and (b) losing the game which immediately preceded the celebration.

But screw him. Seriously.

I used to think that way. Indeed, if you search the HBT archives I’m sure there’s a post or two in which I disapprove of teams engaging in multiple champagne celebrations. But I was wrong about that and I’ve changed my mind on the matter over the past year or too. And on some other matters as well, all for the same reason: athletes are people just like us, not some avatars for our machismo and our fantasies. They’re people who have spent their entire lives devoted to their calling and do it under a lot of pressure and in the face of a lot of criticism and expectations from others. Why on Earth would anyone deny them their happiness upon the realization of an accomplishment?

This is even more true if you’re one of those misguided souls who erroneously believe that sports actually is separate from real life and believe them to be supremely and impossibly important. Even if you’re right — and you’re not — wouldn’t that give the athletes an even greater incentive to celebrate accomplishments? Funny how those people who who act as if sports is life and death would deny athletes their joy for defying death, as it were.

My view on the matter now is that if a guy hits a homer he should be able to celebrate it. If a pitcher strikes a guy out, he should be able to celebrate it. If a team makes the playoffs, no matter how low their seed and no matter the manner in which the accomplishment is achieved short of their competitors going down in a plane crash, they should be able to celebrate if they so choose.

So enjoy your hangovers this morning, Houston Astros.