Simers

T.J. Simers is apparently done at the L.A. Times

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We’ve taken many a shot at T.J. Simers over the years. And for good reason, as he’s taken many a shot — often extremely cheap shots — at ballplayers. It’s his shtick and he often does it with a wink, but it wears way, way worse when he’s using that shtick to attack undeserving targets like Marcus Thames than when he’s speaking Truth to Power or whatever it is he’s often credited with doing by his fans.

But whether you love Simers or love to hate him, you may not have him to kick around anymore. He’s been absent from the pages of the L.A. Times for pushing three months now and Mark Heisler writes today that Simers is likely on his way out.

The reason on the surface, the column notes, could be an ethical issue in which he based a column on his daughter and Dwight Howard having a free-throw contest days before it was announced that a TV comedy revolving around Simers and his daughter was in the works. The column goes on to suspect, however, that there may be deeper issues at play here in that Simers has a history of butting heads with the increasingly annoying L.A. Times hierarchy.

Heisler — who worked with Simers at the Times for years and provides all kinds of delicious backstory for those of you who like newspaper politics — uses the Simers story to launch into some thoughts about Simers’ role and the role of newspapers in today’s new media age.  For all the interesting backstory, I think Heisler’s views about what Simers specifically and newspapers in general mean in the grand scheme of things are a bit anachronistic. Maybe newspapers are now being run by shortsighted, bottom-line-obsessed micromanagers and maybe that is a shame (I think it probably is). But to suggest that Simers’ departure is illustrative of the evolution of media is wrong. Great newspapermen from the past would’ve been just as wise to kick him to the curb as the empty suits are today.

To put it another way: maybe Simers is being pushed out for the wrong reasons, but it certainly is the right thing.

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.