Wig

I went to the Winter Meetings Trade Show and it was OK

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On an afternoon where the rumors are weak and the deals close to non-existent, I felt that a trip to the Winter Meetings Trade show was in order.

For those unaware, the Trade Show is where some 300 exhibitors hawk wares ranging from caps, blankets, foam fingers, shot glasses, sports insurance, stadium architecture, concessions, bats, stadium seats, uniforms, mascot costumes — Utility Man — and any number of other odd things. It’s geared more towards the minor leagues than the majors, so if you see fun things at you small town ballpark this summer, someone probably got the idea for it at the Trade Show.

I walked around and took in the sights. Among them:

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You like? I kinda like. The guy at the booth told me they sell them to teams for, like, $5 and they sell at the ballpark for $14.99. Just so you know.

 

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I like a racing 1983 Harold Baines costume, I just don’t know where I’d wear it.

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Wow. I thought I dreamed the ostrich thing for the Reading Phillies — er, the Reading Fightins. Guess not!

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Find the real people in this picture.  Yep, it’s the taco and the mustard!

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This is the sexiest thing of the Winter Meetings so far.

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I’d like a Fergie Jenkins for my minor league park, but I already have a Mickey Lolich and a Robin Roberts and at some point I feel like I’m just buying too much.

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But really, if anyone wants to buy me this, I’ll take it. And I’ve never even been to Eugene.

Masahiro Tanaka can’t say for sure if he’ll be ready by Opening Day

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Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka said today that he “can’t say for sure” whether he’ll be ready for Opening Day.

Tanaka underwent arthroscopic surgery in late November to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. Tanaka threw off a bullpen mound Tuesday for the first time since undergoing a cleanup procedure on his right elbow last October and, while healthy, may be behind other pitchers.

Tanaka posted a 3.51 ERA and a 139/27 K/BB ratio across 154 innings last season. He also has a partially torn UCL he’s been pitching through for some time which is always something the Yankees have on their mind when it comes to schedules and workouts for their ace.

Denard Span, not Angel Pagan, will be Giants’ center fielder and leadoff hitter

Denard Span
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Making official what was assumed when the Giants signed Denard Span to a three-year, $31 million contract last month, manager Bruce Bochy announced that Span will start in center field and bat leadoff.

That means 34-year-old Angel Pagan, who’s been the Giants’ starting center fielder and primary leadoff hitter for the past four seasons, will slide to left field and bat further down in the lineup. About a month before the Span signing Bochy said Pagan would remain in the center fielder/leadoff role, but the situation obviously changed.

It’s a move that makes sense, because Span–if healthy following hip surgery–is a superior defensive center fielder with better on-base skills. And if Pagan doesn’t bounce back following a rough 2015 season then having him in left field will make it easier for the Giants to platoon him or bench him in favor of, say, Gregor Blanco or a bigger bat.

Pitchers to receive new visor-like protective headgear

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MLB/MLBPA
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For the past few years MLB, the MLBPA and cap and helmet manufacturers have been working on various models of protective headgear for pitchers. Some of the models have been unworkable, some of them have not met the satisfaction of pitchers and others have, well, looked a little odd. At present the only pitcher who routinely wears any headgear is Alex Torres, who wears the bulky isoBLOX helmet.

Now, however, there is a new option. And, as you can see above it’s a bit different than what we’ve seen before. It’s more or less like a visor, which will have a nylon top on them to give a full cap-like appearance. The ear flaps will be lefty and righty-specific, given that righties are more likely to be hit on the right and lefties on the left given their follow-throughs.

The new caps will be given out to players this spring and, like the old ones, will be used or not used at the choice of the players. You can read more about the new helmet at ESPN’s Outside the Lines report.

Brewers sign reliever Blaine Boyer

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Right-hander Blaine Boyer, who spent last season with the Twins, has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Brewers that includes an invitation to spring training.

Boyer was also on a minor-league deal last spring when he snagged a spot in the Twins’ season-opening bullpen and he stayed there all year, posting a 2.49 ERA in 65 innings. His secondary numbers weren’t quite so impressive, particularly his managing just 33 strikeouts compared to 19 walks, but the 34-year-old journeyman is a decent middle relief option.

Boyer has a 4.22 career ERA, including a 2.91 ERA in 105 innings since returning from injuries in 2014.