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Looking forward to USA vs. Mexico

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This is not a preview of tomorrow night’s WBC matchup. I’m really just saying that I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been pretty WBC resistant of late, and I still quibble with its importance and place in the grand scheme of baseball, but there are a lot of things that are unimportant yet still fun. Indeed, most fun things fit that description if you’re living life properly. And based on the buzz on the ground here in Phoenix, USA-Mexico is gonna be a hoot.

Rather than get a press pass I got tickets, and I am going to with my friends Connor and Voros. If you’ve followed my Arizona exploits these past couple of years you’ll remember those two from that time we almost got beat up because someone thought we were racists. And the time we met the guy with the gigantic head wound who said that if he had a time machine the first thing he’d do is travel back and prevent women from getting the right to vote.  Really, when I come here I have nine days of peace in the desert and then one day with Connor and Voros in which I come face to face with death and horror.

So you can imagine things are going to go totally well on Friday night. Especially when Conor and I independently came up with the idea to dress in green and lustily cheer for Mexico over the Americans as a means of pissing off the Arizonans. It should be quite the scene, man.  If we survive the night I’ll be sure to give you a report.

But that’s tomorrow. Today: I’m going to Maryvale to take in the Brewers and Diamondbacks. Maryvale Ballpark, as many have noted, is in something of a bad neighborhood. You might even say it’s gritty. In which case I give Kirk Gibson and the Dbacks a distinct advantage in today’s contest.

Athletics sign Santiago Casilla to two-year, $11 million deal

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 10: Santiago Casilla #46 of the San Francisco Giants throws a pitch during the 9th inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 10, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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After letting rumors of the deal percolate for the last week, the Athletics officially announced their two-year, $11 million contract with right-hander Santiago Casilla on Friday (and threw a little bit of shade at the Giants, too). As previously reported, the contract includes an extra $3 million in performance bonuses.

Casilla, 36, got his major league start with Oakland back in 2004, racking up a 5.11 ERA and four saves over six seasons in the A’s bullpen. After picking up a minor league deal with the Giants in 2010, the righty flitted in and out of the closing role with varying degrees of success. Notwithstanding a slight downturn in his production rate during the 2016 season, he earned 123 saves and a 2.42 ERA during the past seven years in San Francisco. Securing another closing role might be a little tougher across the Bay, however, with a bullpen that includes fellow closers Ryan Madson, Ryan Dull and Sean Doolittle.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system. Who has the worst?

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 06:  General manager Dave Stewart of the Arizona Diamondbacks laughs on the field before the Opening Day MLB game against the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field on April 6, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Why is this man smiling? Man, I wouldn’t be smiling if I read what I just read.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility.

For the second straight year, Law ranks the Braves as the best system in baseball. Number two — making a big leap from last year’s number 13 ranking – is the New York Yankees. Dead last: the Arizona Diamondbacks, which Law says “Dave Stewart ritually disemboweled” over the past two years. That’s gotta hurt.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone.