Laguna Beach

Strange rumblings in Los Angeles

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I got off an airplane about a half hour ago after taking a red eye flight back to Ohio from Los Angeles, where I spent the weekend. Because I don’t sleep well on airplanes, today is going to be … something less than lucid.

Anyway, the purpose of my trip was not baseball, but I had a couple of baseball observations I’ll share simply because reading more about Ubaldo Jimenez and Troy Tulowitzki seems daunting on as little sleep as I am operating:

I was in a drinking establishment taking my refreshment one evening and the bartender, noting my baseball cap, began to discuss baseball with me. He is a native of L.A. and a life-long Dodgers fan, so I asked him what he felt about Magic Johnson and all of that.  He was happy about it, of course, but he said it was no big deal.

“How do you mean?” I said. “Seems like a big deal to me.”

“Ah, they were going to be OK anyway,” he said.

“You think so?”

“Sure,” he said. “They’re the Dodgers.”

In that I think there is some essential essence of fandom that I don’t think about very often. It’s not … rational.  And that’s probably good for most franchises, frankly.

The second baseball observation of the weekend came when I was driving around, and it involved billboards. I noticed one of those “El Hombre” billboards with Albert Pujols on it. I thought those were taken down because Pujols hated them, but I guess not.

I also noticed way more Dodgers billboards then I ever remember seeing. They were cool, with pictures of old Dodgers sort of morphing into current ones.  Think Maury Wills-to-Davey Lopes-to-Dee-Gordon. There was one with sluggers too, resulting in Matt Kemp but I didn’t see who the other guys were because I was driving and driving in Los Angeles terrifies me.

Finally: I didn’t win the Mega Millions on Friday night, but know that if I did (a) I’d still keep blogging here because it’s fun; but (b) I’d probably be doing it from a house on a beach not unlike this one I was gawking at yesterday. When you get a chance, someone remind why I live in Ohio again.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.