Eleven things you didn’t know about Earl Weaver

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As Alice Sweet of Norfolk, Virginia and the rest of baseball fandom mourns the passing of Earl Weaver, Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times gives us 11 cool facts about Weaver that probably never occurred to you.

The one that stopped me in my tracks: Weaver, despite being a gray-haired institution by the time I started paying attention to baseball in the late 70s, was only 56 years old when he managed his last game. As Jaffe notes, that’s younger than Ned Yost is now. And about the same age as Ron Roenicke.

Granted, there are different kinds of 56 year-olds. Some in better shape than others and some who didn’t spend most of their 30s through their 50s yelling at people all the time like Weaver. But man, that’s nutsy to think about.

Anyway, great post by Jaffe about a great manager.

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.