Joe Morgan

Joe Morgan had his statue unveiled at Great American Ballpark. And he said something interesting.

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Last night Joe Morgan became the sixth former Red to have a statue at Great American Ballpark. Before him: Joe Nuxhall, Ted Kluszewski Frank Robinson, Ernie Lombardi and  Johnny Bench. The statue was dedicated before the game and sits at the northwest entrance to the ballpark, which is the main entrance. So: pretty cool.

Also pretty cool: all eight starting position players for the 1975-76 World Series champion Reds — the Great Eight, as some call them — were on hand. Including Pete Rose, who was given permission from Major League Baseball. Cincinnati never lets you forget about the Big Red Machine, but man, when you have a lineup with Morgan, Bench, Rose, Perez, Concepcion, Griffey, Foster and Geronimo in it they can be excused for reminding you. Just insane.

A third pretty cool thing? What Joe Morgan said at the presentation. After noting that Johnny Bench once said that getting his statue was more important to him than getting into the Hall of Fame — and noting that, at the time, he doubted that — Morgan said this:

“Johnny, you were right,” Morgan continued. “Today is a better day. The Hall of Fame is about numbers and playing on great teams. You only get a statue or a sculpture if they want you to be remembered.”

I love that sentiment on an emotional level in that, absolutely, the statue thing or any other honor the home team gives former players comes from a much more heartfelt place in which fan sentiment and history and all of that are mixed up into nothing short of a big hug.  On a personal level that has to be among the most satisfying things that can happen to an athlete.

But I also love it because, even though I’m sure he didn’t mean it this way based on his past comments on the matter, maybe it will nonetheless help remind those who seek to keep PED users out of the Halll of Fame that it’s not their job to decide who will and who will not be remembered. It is not their job to make the judgment that, baseball accomplishments aside, some players are to become part of history and others aren’t. That’s the stuff of statues and memorials and special days. The Hall of Fame is — or at least should be — about baseball.

Astros sign Carlos Beltran to one-year, $16 million deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 9: Carlos Beltran #36 of the Texas Rangers hits an RBI against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning during game three of the American League Division Series at Rogers Centre on October 9, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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The Astros have reportedly agreed to terms with free agent DH/outfielder Carlos Beltran for a one-year, $16 million contract, per ESPN’s Buster Olney. The deal includes a complete no-trade clause, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Beltran elected to return to the Astros after fielding offers from the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. He appeared in Houston during the second half of 2004, batting .258/.368/.559 with 23 home runs in 399 PA and making his first postseason run to the tune of a .435 average and eight homers as the Astros battled their way through to a seven-game loss in the Championship Series. Beltran also played with Houston manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach Alex Cora in separate stints with the Royals and Mets, which the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan cited as possible influences in the Astros’ decision to pursue the free agent.

In 2016, Beltran split the season between the Yankees and Rangers after getting dealt at the deadline for a package of right-handed pitching prospects. He was stationed in right field for the majority of his time in New York, but was almost exclusively utilized as a designated hitter over 52 games in Texas. Between the two clubs, he batted an impressive .295/.337/.513 with 29 homers and earned his ninth career All-Star designation to boot.

The veteran slugger is expected to fill a similar role on the Astros, who need a full-time DH but could use some additional support in the outfield corner. Olney envisions a lineup with Beltran in the five-spot, per an earlier report:

Rays and Braves reportedly interested in Welington Castillo

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits an RBI double in the third inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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Catcher Welington Castillo was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks on Friday, making him one of 35 additional players to enter the free agent pool. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Castillo was drawing interest from the Rays, among a bevy of major league clubs, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien added that the Braves have “some interest” as well.

The Rays’ trifecta of catchers — Curt Casali, Luke Maile, and Bobby Wilson — did little to inspire confidence behind the plate in 2016, and with top free agent Wilson Ramos sidelined after suffering a torn ACL in September, it makes sense that they’d explore more affordable options. Castillo profiled well at the plate during his first full season with the Diamondbacks, slashing .264/.322/.423 with 14 home runs in 457 PA. Behind the dish, he placed third among all qualified major league catchers with seven DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), though his league-leading 10 passed balls weren’t anything to write home about.

Unlike the Rays, the Braves have a serviceable catching platoon in Tyler Flowers and Anthony Recker. Beyond that, their catching depth is fairly shallow despite the recent addition of former Mariners’ outfield prospect Alex Jackson. Jackson, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley, has not played behind the plate since high school, though GM John Coppolella is reportedly interested in trying him there again. A.J. Pierzynski is also rumored to be seeking a deal elsewhere in free agency, which could open the door for a multi-year deal with Castillo.