Tom Ricketts

Tom Ricketts distances the Cubs from the anti-Obama campaign presented to his father

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Followup from this morning’s New York Times story about Joe Ricketts being pitched to bankroll that anti-Obama campaign.  Son Tom, chairman of the Cubs, issued a statement:

“As chairman of the Chicago Cubs, I repudiate any return to racially divisive issues in this year’s presidential campaign or in any setting — like my father has,” Tom Ricketts said in the statement. “I shall have no further comment on this or any other election year political issue. My full-time focus is on making the Chicago Cubs a World Series champion preserving Wrigley Field and making the Chicago Cubs a great corporate citizen.”

I assume that “like my father has” line means that he believes his father has repudiated such politics. Which, while he is now said to have rejected that “extremely literate” black man thing mentioned this morning, he hasn’t done. The Times still reports him to be “entertaining” it and any number of other initiatives. We’ll see when Joe Ricketts either speaks or acts.*

Also notable, Tom’s sister and Joe’s daughter Laura Ricketts is a big Obama donor. She issued a statement too, supporting both Obama and her father, even if she disagrees with his politics.

I think the absolutely most notable thing about all of this is that what seems to be driving the statements the most is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s angry reaction to the Times story this morning. Apparently, as the city is in talks with the Cubs about Wrigley Field renovations, Emmanuel was none too pleased to hear that the Cubs’ patriarch is going after Emmanuel’s old boss.

Which, while understandable, is reason number 1,456 against public funding for ballparks.  If you pay your own way, you don’t have to care a lick of what partisan politicians — especially the hotheaded ones — feel about your views on the world, and then you don’t have to issue statements like Tom Ricketts just had to.

*Also, can we dispense with the notion that Joe Ricketts had no intention whatsoever in bankrolling a campaign intended to smear Obama personally? This was a slick 54-page proposal accompanied by a personal presentation. One doesn’t come off the street and pitch that kind of thing cold like Fuller brushes or Kirby vacuums. Such proposals are requested and such requests have guidelines about what they’re looking for.  I’m assuming Ricketts didn’t ask for the stuff about “an extremely literate” black man, but unless the political operatives who pitched it were the worst ever at their job, they were certainly delivering to Ricketts something in the ballpark of what he wanted to see.

Orioles are eying Welington Castillo as their primary catcher target

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 25: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up prior to taking an at bat against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.

Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.

For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.

Report: Phillies agree to minor league deal with Daniel Nava

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 12:  Daniel Nava #12 of the Kansas City Royals bats during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.

Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.