“You love me! You really love me!”
Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves and Steve Delabar of the Toronto Blue Jays were chosen by fans as the winners of the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote.
I gotta say, I’m rather shocked at the NL result. I woulda thought that Yasiel PuigMania would have carried the day. And that if it didn’t, someone at Major League Baseball would turn this into some Soviet-era election in which the glorious voice of the proletariat cried out for Puig to win despite the longest of odds or something. Guess not.
Not that we should take too much from this. The voting procedures for this were even more gonzo than the regular All-Star voting, with Twitter hashtags counting as votes in the final hours before the polls closed. That, combined with open campaigning made this something less than a scientific referendum.
But it may be a broad referendum on what people want the All-Star Game to be. I feel like a Puig vote is a vote for the All-Star Game as spectacle and excitement and what people may want to see, regardless of some measure of merit. I feel like a Freeman vote is one in which people look at overall value (and Freeman, having played all year has added more aggregate value to the Braves than Puig has to the Dodgers) and decided to reward a greater body of work over a big splash. Maybe this voting is even too silly to determine that. I don’t know.
But I do know that, barring Puig as an injury replacement in the days leading up to the All-Star game, he’s going to be sitting at home and watching on TV. And Jonathan Papelbon will be happy.
As for Delabar: relief pitcher beats out other relief pitchers and it’s hard for me to work up much emotion of any kind about that. But at least this relief pitcher has a great story, so that’s nice.
MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.
Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.
The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.
Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.
Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.
After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.
It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.
Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.
LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.
Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.