Woodrow Wilson

A pretty decent election night for the HardballTalk platform

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Look, I realize this is tenuous at best, but every baseball newsmaker in the country was watching election stuff last night too rather than making baseball news so the pickings are slim this morning. Anyway:

  • An issue on the ballot in Wilmington, North Carolina that would have spent $37 million in public funds to build a baseball stadium resoundingly failed. The Atlanta Braves backed it and would have moved a single-A team there if it had succeeded. Worth noting that $37 million is less than the annual pay of the CEO of Liberty Media, which owns the Braves, so if they really wanted a ballpark there so bad they could have built it themselves;
  • Connie Mack IV, the great grandson of Hall of Fame owner-manager Connie Mack, was beat in the Florida senate race. This comes 20 years after he got into a bar fight with former big leaguer Ron Gant, by the way;
  • Ben Chandler, the grandson of former baseball commissioner Happy Chandler, lost his U.S. House seat in Kentucky.
  • A former baseball writer/sabermetrician correctly predicted the outcome of the presidential race in all 50 states despite (a) being derided as a pansy-looking stat geek who lives in his mother’s basement;  and (b) being marginalized as someone who is somehow unqualified to have insights on the subject about which he writes because he isn’t part of the journalist/pundit establishment which thinks data-free narratives and amorphous concepts like “momentum” and “gut feel” matter.

To sum up: a loss for a publicly funded ballpark, a loss for a guy who once punched a player I like in the crotch and a loss for the proudly innumerate.  Not a bad night. Not a bad night at all.

Orioles re-sign Michael Bourn to a minor league deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a single in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.

Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.

Shelby Miller is in the best mental shape of his life

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 24:  Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.

Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.

So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]

Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.

I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.

Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”

Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.

It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.