Where will Jesus Montero play for the Mariners?

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Still reeling from that trade last night. Unlike some deals that are rumored for several hours or days, this one sprung from the head of Zeus, fully-formed, in almost no time.  And also unlike so many other deals this didn’t involve a salary dump. The M’s had a stud pitcher and needed a bat. The Yankee had a stud hitting prospect and needed an arm. It was so … simple.

The hardest part of this deal is where to play Jesus Montero when he shows up to camp next month.

Montero has only caught and DH’d in the Yankees system.  And his catching, according to the Yankees and from what people who have seen him play have surmised, is poor. That only leaves a couple of options.

Designated hitter is one. However, one would normally want to avoid putting a young guy like Montero in the DH slot now because once someone DHs they tend to always DH.  The other obvious option is first base.  Except the M’s, however devoid of hitting talent they are, have two servicable options at first in Justin Smoak and Mike Carp. And even if Montero’s future is at first, the M’s are going to want to play Smoak and/or Carp for a while if, for no other reason, than to showcase them for a trade.

Personally, I’d hire the best catching guru I could find to work with Montero and get him into as good as defensive shape as I could and let him catch all year.  If the M’s are not optimistic about his defense, however, or if they’re too tied to Miguel Olivo or whoever, fine, let him DH but think about a future when he can slide to first base.

Either way, this is all a bit of a problem. Although, inasmuch it has been a long time since the Mariners have had a good bat they had to figure out how to fit into the lineup, it’s an admittedly nice problem to have.

The umps have dropped their Ian Kinsler protest

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Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union —  launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.

Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:

“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”

As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.

I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.

 

Minor league teams prepare for a “total eclipse of the park”

Salem Volcanoes
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The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes are a class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Today, the path of totality of the big solar eclipse we’re not supposed to look at will pass right through the ballpark in which they play. What’s better: the Volcanoes are playing a game against the Hillsboro Hops as it happens.

This was by design: the team’s owner requested this home game when the schedule was made up two years ago specifically to market the heck out of the eclipse. They’re starting the game at 9:30 this morning, Pacific time, in order to maximize the fun. Spectators will receive commemorative eclipse safety glasses to wear. The game will be delayed when the eclipse hits and a NASA scientist named Noah Petro, who is from the area, will talk to the crowd about what is going on.

Salem-Keizer isn’t the only minor league game affected, by the way. There are six games in all which will feature a “total eclipse of the park.” Turn around, bright eyes.

There are no home MLB games going on in the path of totality, but MLB has put together a helpful guide in order to maximize your baseball and eclipse pleasure. If you line up some good beer with that you’l have your very own national pastime syzygy.