This is a few days old and I have no idea how I missed it, but when Ned Yost was asked over the weekend about what he’s gonna do with the Royals struggling third baseman Mike Moustakas, he painted an image for us which, I feel anyway, will form a larger part of his legacy than anything he’s done at the helm of the Brewers or Royals ever will:
“You know what?” Yost said. “Maybe when we get home, I can go to the third base tree and pick another third baseman. … Obviously, third basemen who can hit and hit with power, they must grow on trees.
“They’ve got to. Like relief pitchers. And starting pitchers. Right fielders. Left fielders. First basemen. All of these guys must grow on trees, and you must be able to just go get another good one. A ripe one. Make sure it’s ripe.
“Those trees are at a hidden location but, obviously, they’re somewhere. Because that’s what everyone wants to do. Let’s just go pluck another one out of the tree. That’s the nonsense that really ticks me off.”
Know what would be a fun project? Figuring out which teams have the best trees. Like, for years the Dodgers had a right-handed starter tree. The Pirates used to have a strong-armed corner outfielder tree. The Giants had a pretty good outfield tree too. The Braves cultivated a rare plant which spit out Georgia high school starting pitcher spores for a good while. The Mets used to have a middle-of-the-field shrubbery that seemed to give off shortstop, second baseman and center fielder berries back in the 80s.
Really, the botany of baseball teams is an interesting topic. Shame, though, that the Royals are trying to plant things in what is apparently a desert.
Former Mets catcher Johnny Monell signed a contract with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a report by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The 30-year-old originally struck a deal with the NC Dinos on Thursday, but the deal appeared to fall through at the last minute, according to Cotillo’s unnamed source.
Monell last surfaced for the Mets during their 2015 run, batting a dismal .167/.231/.208 with two extra bases in 52 PA before the club DFA’d him to clear space for Bartolo Colon. While he’s had difficulty sticking at the major league level, he’s found a higher degree of success in the minor league circuit and holds a career .271 average over a decade of minor league play. He played exclusively in Triple-A Las Vegas during the 2016 season, slashing .276/.336/.470 with 19 home runs and a career-high 75 RBI in 461 PA.
The veteran backstop appears to be the second MLB player to join the KT Wiz roster this offseason, as right-hander Donn Roach also signed with the club last month on a one-year, $850,000 deal.
Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.