American League batter Yoenis Cespedes, of the Oakland A's, holds up the Home Run trophy after winning the Major League Baseball All-Star Game Home Run Derby in New York

Yoenis Cespedes wins the 2013 Home Run Derby

44 Comments

The winner of the Home Run Derby isn’t even an All-Star. But he’s here and his presence was validated: Yoenis Cespedes has won the 2013 Home Run Derby.

Cespedes hit 9 homers in the final round — his last traveling 455 feet — beating out Bryce Harper who had eight. Cespedes had 32 in all to Harper’s 24. In the team competition the the AL beat the NL 53 to 50. Cespedes did not have to use up all ten of his allotted outs in the second round. If he had, the AL — and Cespedes — likely would have had higher totals.

Harper was nothing if not consistent, hitting eight homers in each of the three rounds, but Cespedes seemed to have an entirely different gear tonight. His final round homers finding parts of the park that no competitor had found all night.

And so we have survived another Home Run Derby. They are fun for a while, then get a little tedious. But it was nice for once to see a competitor seem to grow stronger as the night went on rather than have the final round be somewhat anti-climactic. Oh, and it ended with Cespedes being awarded a brand new Chevy Silverado. So that’s nice for him.

That’s it from Citi Field for today. It’s been a long day of meet-and-greets, promotional events and weird exhibitions. Tomorrow we get the reason we’re all here: the All-Star Game.  Keep a window open with HardballTalk and NBCSports.com all day, as we’ll be hitting you with our best shots from morning until late in the night.

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
Getty Images
19 Comments

There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.

Report: Dexter Fowler will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after lining out during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
14 Comments

Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.

*

Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.

*

Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.

Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.

Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.