Andrew Cashner averaged 102.2 mph with his fastball Sunday

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Move over Aroldis, the National League might have a new hardest thrower.

As Dan Brooks pointed out, PitchFX data had Padres reliever Andrew Cashner averaging 102.2 mph with his fastball on Sunday. He threw 10 pitches in his scoreless innings out of the pen, all of them heaters. According to the data, they ranged between 100.5 and 103.3 mph.

For those unfamiliar with the Cashner saga, the former first-round pick debuted with the Cubs as a reliever in 2010 and then won the fifth spot in the team’s rotation a year ago, only to hurt his shoulder in his season debut. He didn’t return until September, and he was a reliever again then. The Padres acquired him for top prospect Anthony Rizzo in the offseason and immediately announced their intention to leave him in the pen, at least for 2012. He’s expected to work as a setup man in front of closer Huston Street.

According to Baseball Info Solutions data, Nationals reliever Henry Rodriguez was the game’s hardest thrower last year, averaging 98.0 mph with his fastball. That barely eclipsed Aroldis Chapman, whose fastball came in at 97.9. Chapman, though, did have more fastballs register at 100+ mph, topping Rodriguez 158-127. Cashner may well beat out both this year if he can stay healthy. Chapman may hit triple-digits once in a while as a starter, but it won’t happen as often as it did out of the pen.

Imagining Theo Epstein in politics

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“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”

That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.

Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.