Brandon Phillips names his All-Swag Team

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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports spoke with Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, mostly about swag. Phillips says that baseball needs more of it, saying, “That’s exactly why African-Americans don’t play baseball. [There’s] no passion in the game. You’ve got to be like a robot. Look at basketball. Look at football. When you make an exciting play, you can let everybody know. … If you get hype, get some swag, turn up, your team can feed off that.”

It’s an interesting quote, particularly on the heels of the Carlos Gomez/Brian McCann incident and the Dodgers celebrating in the pool at Chase Field, both of which received criticism from players and fans of the “old school” mentality.

Describing a player with swag, Phillips says, “He doesn’t play for himself. He plays for the fans. He plays for the city.”

Morosi then asked him to name his All-Swag Team, and it’s pretty solid:

  • Manager: Ron Washington
  • DH: David Ortiz
  • SP: Felix Hernandez
  • C: Yadier Molina
  • 1B: Prince Fielder
  • 2B: Himself
  • 3B: Miguel Cabrera
  • SS: Hanley Ramirez
  • LF: Carlos Gonzalez
  • CF: Adam Jones
  • RF: Hunter Pence

Players to get honorable mentions included Andrew McCutchen, Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, Jimmy Rollins, Troy Tulowitzki, Mike Trout, Torii Hunter, Giancarlo Stanton, as well as former Major Leaguer David Eckstein.

With the exception of Eckstein, though, there is a trend: these are all good players. Does swag lead to success, or does success lead to swag? It may be one of life’s greatest mysteries.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.