United States Senator Scott Brown prepares to throw out the first pitch prior to a baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays in Boston.

My heavens! Massachusetts Senator takes political donation from Yankees president

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There are a lot more important things to get outraged about in politics, but if you’re gonna do things like wear the local team’s gear and stand in front of their ballpark in campaign ads in order to try to co-opt some goodwill, you had better not do this:

U.S. Sen. Scott Brown may be rooting for the Red Sox against the Yankees this week, but the head of the hated Pinstripes is going to bat for Brown.

Randy Levine, president of the New York Yankees, donated the maximum $2,500 to the Massachusetts Republican’s re-election campaign last month, according to newly released campaign finance records. That’s right, the commander of the Evil Empire is helping to pay for all those Brown ads championing his support of the Red Sox.

It’d be trivial if, as the article notes, the woman Brown beat in his last election didn’t get all kinds of bad press for thinking that Curt Schilling was a Yankees fan when trying to criticize Schilling’s endorsement of Brown. Of course she was a terrible candidate in a number of ways, so that may not have done her in. But the point remains that silly Red Sox issues seem to matter in Massachusetts politics.

Ultimately, though, this will make me sad if it becomes a real issue instead of an amusing note. Because if people get all angry about a moderate individual donation from a private citizen who happens to be connected with a sports team they hate for tribal reasons, while they seem to care less about huge, systematic purchasing of our political system by corporate and other special interests, it means that we’re pretty much broken as a republic.

(thanks to @baseballot for the heads up)

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

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Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

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Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.

Reds hire Lou Pinella as a senior advisor to baseball operations

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The Reds announced on Twitter that the club has hired former manager Lou Pinella in a consultant capacity as a senior advisor to baseball operations. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer adds that Pinella will also spend time with the team at spring training.

Pinella, 72, was last seen with the Giants in 2011, also in a consultant capacity, but he spent only the one season there. He has 23 seasons of experience as a manager, with his most recent four coming with the Cubs between 2007-10.