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Mike Matheny has a blog dedicated to changing the culture of youth sports

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A few years ago Cardinals manager Mike Matheny wrote a letter to the parents of the little league team he was coaching at the time, decrying the culture of youth sports and, more specifically, the overbearing parents and insane coaches that were turning what should have been character-building learning experiences into a hyper competitive hellscape.

Last summer there was a lot of reporting about all of that. Specifically, that Matheny was still adamant about changing the culture of youth sports. And now he is continuing that, starting up a blog on his personal website dedicated to that cause. From his welcome letter:

I wrote a letter a few years ago that unintentionally went viral across the country. The purpose was to explain to a group of parents, that I saw a big problem in organized sports. Little did I know the impact that the letter would have on so many people. I realized that there is a need for a better way, and the ideas in that letter had struck a cord with many people who are ready for a change. Some follow up was necessary, so…, here we are.

This website is for people who want to use youth sports to impact kids and their communities. I plan on keeping fresh information and videos coming to this site that will challenge and encourage coaches, parents and aspiring athletes to use sports as a platform to develop character, and skills that are needed for success on the field and off. Thanks for your interest and I hope that you will keep coming back.

That’s pretty cool. And a pretty cool goal too. As a parent of kids just getting into various activities, I’m constantly shocked at how seriously everyone (i.e. parents) takes them (and it’s not just for the boys and sports. You should see the ballet studio Mookie goes to). There are many times I have hoped that my son in particular doesn’t get too into sports because of that noise. Which is kind of a shame because when I grew up I was able to play — and not be particularly good at — various sports without it seeming like I was an imposition or that some more talented kids’ dad was gonna freak out if slow old me was allowed to get some PT at his son’s expense. I worry now that’s something harder and harder to find.

So kudos to Matheny. Parents of non-participating kids can wring our hands about this sort of thing a lot, but not much will come of it. It could be a totally different deal if the necessary change comes from within sports rather than from outside of them.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.