One possibility that should be considered in the Yunel Escobar eye black thing is that he was the victim of a prank. The problem with that, though?
Mr. Escobar, a 29-year-old native of Havana, Cuba, has been seen at other games this season with different Spanish phrases written on his eye black.
Seriously: how does one put those stickers on without once checking to see if they’re straight? And even if someone else wrote those words on there, how did Escobar not see it before putting them on? Were they face down on the counter? And did he look away when he went to peel off the adhesive?
Finally, if it was a prank that was supposed to be directed at Escobar, one can assume it was meant to be a joke on him by people he knew, and was never meant to leave the clubhouse. In that case: childish, but likely not malicious.
But if Escobar put those words on there himself, for whom was the message intended?
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.
Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.
Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.