Phillies and Kevin Frandsen avoid arbitration by agreeing to new contract

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UPDATE: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that Frandsen will make a base salary of $850,000. The deal includes incentives which could bring the overall payout to $1.2 million.

11:35 PM: According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Phillies and Kevin Frandsen have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a new contract. Terms aren’t yet available, but it doesn’t figure to be much since he’s arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter.

Frandsen spent the entire first half of this season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but received significant playing time at third base with the big club after the All-Star break, batting .338/.383/.451 with two home runs, 14 RBI and an .834 OPS in 210 plate appearances. His strong play pushed Placido Polanco to the bench down the stretch.

It’s possible the Phillies will go into next season with a platoon of Frandsen and Freddy Galvis at third base, but general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. will certainly look for ways to improve in both the free agent and trade markets. While Frandsen was a nice surprise in a small sample this year thanks to a high line drive rate and batting average on balls in play, the 30-year-old had a .243/.302/.335 batting line and a .636 OPS over his previous 626 plate appearances in the majors. With regression likely on the way, it would be unwise to count on him as anything more than a utility infielder next year.

Imagining Theo Epstein in politics

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“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”

That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.

Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.