The Athletics are likely to sign Manny Ramirez before spring training

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Athletics are likely to sign Manny Ramirez just before or soon after the start of spring training.

Makes sense. Nearly-free offense, at least potentially, and for at least part of the season following Ramirez serving his suspension. Wacko serial PED offenders are the new inefficiency, you know.

Of course it would create even more of a logjam in the corner outfielder/DH mix in Oakland, what with Seth Smith, Jonny Gomes, Kila Ka’aihue and several others hanging around, but it’s not like anyone in that mix represents The Future of the Franchise, so why not try to catch some lightning in a bottle?

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.