2011 XM All-Star Futures Game

Bryce Harper, Wil Myers finish among AFL’s top performers

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The Arizona Fall League regular season came to a conclusion Thursday, so let’s take a quick look at some of the stats.

Here are the OPS leaders:

1. Jedd Gyorko (3B Padres): .437/.500/.704, 5 HR in 71 AB
2. Mike Olt (3B Rangers): .349/.433/.764, 13 HR in 106 AB
3. Wil Myers (OF Royals): .360/.481/.674, 4 HR in 86 AB
4. Robbie Grossman (OF Pirates): .375/.472/.625, 7 HR in 104 AB
5. Michael Choice (OF Athletics): .318/.423/.667, 6 HR in 66 AB
6. Nolan Arenado (3B Rockies): .388/.423/.636, 6 HR in 121 AB
7. Kevin Mattison (OF Marlins): .349/.433/.624, 6 HR in 109 AB
8. Bryce Harper (OF Nationals): .333/.400/.634, 6 HR in 93 AB
9. Scooter Gennett (2B Brewers): .411/.470/.556, 2 HR in 90 AB
10. Jefry Marte (3B Mets): .333/.436/.538, 4 HR in 78 AB

A lot of strong numbers there, as usual. The AFL OPS as a whole was right around .815. For comparison’s sake, the league OPS in the majors this year was .720.

Myers, whose name came up in the Jair Jurrjens/Martin Prado talks with the Braves, had a disappointing season in Double-A before rebounding. He’s just turning 21 next month, so he still ranks as one of the game’s very best outfield prospects. Of course, Harper is a bit ahead of him there. Harper, who finished third in the league with 26 RBI in 25 games, turned 19 last month.

Disappointments include the Angels’ Mike Trout (.245/.279/.321 from a player who figured to dominate the competition in Arizona), the Marlins’ Matt Dominguez (.210/.278/.383) and the Mariners’ Chih-Hsien Chiang (.263/.337/.368).

On the pitching side, Seattle’s first-round pick, Danny Hultzen, had the best ERA among starters, coming in at 1.40 in 19 1/3 innings. Next up was the White Sox’s Terry Doyle, who went 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA in 27 1/3 innings. Pirates first-rounder Gerrit Cole, with a 3.00 ERA and a 16/4 K/BB ratio in 15 innings, is another who impressed.

Among the pitchers who struggled were Tigers left-hander Andrew Oliver, who had a 5.82 ERA and 16 walks in 17 innings, and Cubs prospect Trey McNutt, who had a 5.00 ERA and just eight strikeouts in 18 innings. McNutt’s name has been bandied about in the Theo Epstein compensation talks with Boston.

Former Padres prospect Nick Schmidt struck out 26 in 23 1/3 innings, but he finished with a 5.40 ERA anyway and he’s now expected to be left off San Diego’s 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 draft.

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.

Report: Dexter Fowler will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after lining out during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.

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Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.

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Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.

Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.

Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.