Report: Angels sign Joe Blanton for two years, $15 million

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The Angels are staying busy Wednesday, picking up Joe Blanton on a two-year, $15 million contract to add to their rotation.

The deal includes an option for 2015, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

Blanton went 10-13 with a 4.71 ERA for the Phillies and Dodgers last season, though he did post a fine 166/34 K/BB ratio in the process. He’s a pretty good fit in a big Angels Stadium that hasn’t been yielding a lot of home runs of late.

Blanton will presumably be the fourth starter in a rotation that also includes Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Tommy Hanson, with one more pitcher still to be signed. With Blanton making $7.5 million and Hanson due about $4 million in arbitration, the Angels should still have at least $8 million-$12 million left to spend on a No. 3 starter with Dan Haren and Ervin Santana having departed and Zack Greinke almost sure to join them.

Assuming the Angels do land that additional starter, then Garrett Richards will head back to Triple-A for more seasoning.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.