Brandon Belt

Serious code violation: Brandon Belt sat in Matt Cain’s seat during the perfecto

14 Comments

I don’t believe in almost any superstition. There may be an exception or two I’m forgetting, but most of it is hogwash and hoodoo for the feeble-minded. And spare me your Crash Davis “if you believe you’re playing well because you’re getting laid, or because you’re not getting laid, or because you wear women’s underwear, then you *are*!” speech. Save it for someone who’s afraid to step on the foul line while walking out to the field.

But even if I don’t believe in the superstitions themselves, I do believe that such things can become accepted enough practices among a sufficient number of people that you should at least respect the beliefs of others, however misguided they may be in provenance. It’s not a matter of thinking that their violation will cause some great harm. Rather, it’s a matter of just being cool to someone and not violating a social code. I’ll note this is how I view religion too, which is why you’ll never hear me getting up in someone’s grill about what they believe as long as it’s not harming me or anyone else.

The point of all of this: if I was pitching a perfect game — in San Francisco, say — I don’t think I’d make a point to sit in the same spot in the dugout after each inning or not talk to anyone of whatever else it is that pitchers in such a situation do. It has no effect on how I’m pitching. The key would be to make sure I didn’t lose my concentration or mojo or whatever it was, and I don’t think I’d tie that to those sorts of things.

I would, however, if I were a position player on a team in which a pitcher was doing such things, make sure not to step on whatever it is he’s doing. It’s something that Brandon Belt didn’t do last night, as Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea reports:

With Matt Cain closing in on the 22nd perfect game in major league history, and the first in the Giants’ 129 years as a franchise, Belt sat down in the dugout after the seventh inning to take a deep breath.

“I sat down and Cainer just stopped and stared at me,” said Belt, whose eyes grew wide with panic. “Yeah, I guess everything was OK until I sat in his seat.”

Can you imagine the perfect game was lost right after that? Belt would probably want to go find a hole someplace in which to die.  And it would suck for all of us Belt fanboys too, because the dude is just now starting to get some regular playing time, and I would bet that the ruckus all of that would cause would be enough for Bruce Bochy to exile him to Fresno or San Jose or points even farther away.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

Screenshot 2016-02-10 at 7.43.02 PM
Rich Pilling/Getty Images North America
Leave a comment

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

Screenshot 2016-02-10 at 7.00.22 PM
Rich Schultz/Getty Images North America
Leave a comment

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

Screenshot 2016-02-10 at 6.22.24 PM
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images North America
4 Comments

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

orioles logo
6 Comments

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.