After 46 years of being known simply as the Reading Phillies, the longest affiliation in the minor leagues, the Phillies’ Double-A affiliate will have a new name for 2013 and beyond. According to Benjamin Hill of MLB.com, the team announced today that they will be called the Reading Fightin Phils. Of course, along with a new name comes new uniforms…and a new logo.
Yes, it’s an ostrich. This may seem like an odd choice on the surface, but it’s a nod to their popular Crazy Hot Dog Vendor, who rides a stuffed ostrich onto the field and throws hot dogs into the stands. Here he is in action. The name change has been met with protest and anger in some circles, but Fightin Phils general manager Scott Hunsicker explained that the rebranding effort is about attracting young fans and forging their own identity.
“There’s a lot of fun to be had with a large flightless bird, in the same way that the [Lehigh Valley] IronPigs and [Richmond] Flying Squirrels have a lot of fun with their names,” Fightin Phils general manager Scott Hunsicker said in a telephone conversation prior to the official announcement. “It’s the sort of thing that can get families excited and kids excited, with the goal being to get more kids to fall in love with baseball.”
Oh, and for their parents to purchase all the new merchandise.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.