It is with a heavy heart that I get on a plane this morning and leave Arizona. No, it’s not a paradise. But for a few weeks in late February and on through March it is pretty damn close to it. The weather is perfect. The baseball is plentiful. Hope is ubiquitous. Friends — at least my friends in baseball — are all over the place.
Yes, it’s been a wonderful week here in the Valley of the Sun. A week that has re-energized me and has made me anxious for the regular season to start. That has made me realize that no matter how many baseball seasons I’ve lived through, each one begins anew, unspoiled and wonderful. It has been a week that has made me remember that, even though life has its ups and its downs, baseball is always there for us. As a diversion or, if we need it to be, as something more.
It’s been a pretty rough, dark winter in a lot of ways. But it’s a winter that ends now. Ends with the dawning of a new morning. A morning in which we learned a few things. Such as:
- Brian Wilson has no idea about how the universe works, but OH MY GOD he inspired something wonderful.
- Sometimes you walk into a room with three Hall of Famers just sitting at a table reading newspapers and shooting the breeze;
- Sometimes you walk down a concourse and see two Hall of Very Gooders.
- Sometimes you get accosted by some weirdo with a head wound at a seedy bar on the unfashionable side of town;
- Yoenis Cespedes is pretty freakin’ awesome, even if your momma could hit a homer off Jeff Francis;
- Yu Darvish is pretty freakin’ awesome, even if your momma could hold the San Diego Padres scoreless;
- To be successful, first you see the ball, then you hit the ball;
- Coco Crisp thinks it’s funny that I’m bald;
- So too does the Indians’ beat writer from MLB.com, but at least Manny Acta has my back;
- For some people, the Expos will never die;
- Robin Yount needs a bigger cap;
- Ron Roenicke is a neat guy;
- Maryvale Baseball Park may be in Phoenix’s most gang-ridden neighborhood, but it’s still pretty nice;
- At some point you get too old to hold on to souvenir baseballs;
- Chief Wahoo sucks, and I’m never gonna get tired of talking about it;
- Talking to baseball players may make me not want to rip them as much, which probably means I should stop talking to baseball players;
- Lots of reporters wanted to see Yu Darvish in person;
- Torii Hunter has gone to the Crash Davis school of not telling nosy reporters anything of substance;
- A person actually bought an orange Marlins’ cap;
- Bobby Abreu actually thinks he can pitch; and
- The Angels are a happy bunch.
As you read this, I’m at 30,000 feet. Next time you hear from me I’ll be back in my fortified compound on the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio, refreshed by my travels and primed for a new baseball season.
Jose Bautista‘s bat flip from the 2015 playoffs has crossed sporting lines. Now, in addition to it angering old school killjoys and “play the game the right way” lame-os, you can use the bat flip to taunt your opponents in video game hockey.
That’s because the new “NHL ’17” game allows you to pick your own goal celebration. And one of them is the Bautista bat flip. It was discovered by a guy beta testing the game:
Why you’d pick any of the other celebrations is beyond me, but I suppose you can do what you’d like.
8:47 AM: The Padres may be giving up two pitchers, but they’re getting a nice return. Early reports have first baseman Josh Naylor, the Marlins’ top position playing prospect, heading to San Diego. Naylor, the Marlins’ first round pick in 2015, is currently in A-ball, where he’s hitting .269/.317/.430 with nine homers and 54 RBI in 89 games. He has no real defensive value but he’s only 19 and is expected to hit wherever he goes. Naylor, from Canada, recently played in the Futures Game, where he had two hits and drove in a run for the World team.
8:31 AM: Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that the Marlins are also getting pitcher Colin Rea from Padres. Rea has started 18 games this year for San Diego, posting a 4.98 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 76/44 in 99 and a third innings. He’s definitely more innings eater than effective starter, but the Marlins are clearly looking to throw as many pitchers at the problem as they can get. Plus: Rea is under team control through 2021 and won’t be arbitration eligible until 2019, so he’ll be with Miami for a long time if they want him.
8:29 AM: Ken Rosenthal just reported that this trade is “bigger than just Cashner,” and that the Marlins may be getting more from the Padres. So stay tuned.
8:26 AM: Buster Olney reports that the San Diego Padres have traded pitcher Andrew Cashner to the Miami Marlins. There’s no word yet on the return.
This is a rental of a guy with a live arm but who has experienced some mighty struggles this season. Cashner is 4-7 with a 4.76 ERA and a 67/30 K/BB ratio in 79 1/3 innings. He missed over three weeks between June 11 and July 2 due to a strained neck. A righty, Cashner is earning $9.625 million this season and will be eligible for free agency after the season.
Miami has been in desperate need to upgrade the back of its rotation. If Cashner can regain the form he showed before injuries slowed him down in the past two seasons, he will be an upgrade. That’s not necessarily a pipe dream — he’s pitched pretty well of late — and he certainly has some incentive to show what he can do down the stretch to potential suitors this coming offseason.
The Marlins currently sit five games back of the Nationals in the NL East and are tied with the Cardinals for the second wild card slot.