harper futures getty

Does Bryce Harper really need to grow up?

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I give Bryce Harper a fair amount of hell, but it isn’t serious hell. It’s more like me shaking my head and smugly smiling at the folly of youth while simultaneously (a) understanding that young people act like young people and that’s OK; and (b) being slightly jealous that I’m an old man now and couldn’t get away with most of that stuff.

Point is: while I cringe — often — at the things Harper says and does, it’s no different than me cringing at the kids riding their skateboards around my neighborhood, imploring them to get off my lawn and the like.  Sure, it’d be cool if a young stud athlete like Harper had an unnatural maturity because it would be interesting to witness, but really, the kid is just being a kid and that’s OK.

But it’s not OK with everyone. Specifically, Jason Reid of the Washington Post, who took to his column yesterday to implore Master Harper to grow up:

Bryce Harper needs to grow up. When you’re the future of the franchise, being 19 will only get you so far. Sometimes, you need to show maturity beyond your years … Obviously, Harper is entitled to his views. After already paying Harper like a star, the Nationals want him to become one. Harper hasn’t said or done anything outright alarming. Repeatedly, though, he has exercised questionable judgment — and the Nationals know it.

The evidence cited for this is all the stuff we’ve heard about before: his desire to be like Joe Namath. The fact that he roots for teams that happened to be good and popular when he was growing up. The fact that he showboated in a couple of games last year, says goofy things on Twitter and drives an oversized Hot Wheels car.

None of which I personally approve of, of course. But as we’ve established: I’m an old man and I know it and I don’t think for a minute that Bryce Harper should do what pleases people like me because, man, that would be pretty depressing.

As long as they’re not abusing drugs and causing real chaos, let youth be young. As long as we don’t get consumed with bitterness, let old people roll our eyes at it. That’s the natural freaking order of things, and I really hope that never changes.

Shapiro, Murray defend Dellin Betances after arbitration feud

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees and the American League pitches against the National League during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.

Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”

Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”

Royals will experiment with Alex Gordon in all three outfield spots this year

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 7: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals reacts to a fan while on first base during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.

Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.

According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.

While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.