Some of MLB’s worst teams had something to play for Sunday

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With the new collective bargaining agreement came a new incentive for teams to play poorly: locking up a protected first round draft pick. In the old CBA, the first 15 first-round picks were protected. In the new one, only ten are protected. If a team with a protected pick signs a free agent who received a qualifying offer, that team does not have to surrender its first round draft pick as compensation.

Teams with the ten worst records secured themselves a protected pick. Entering today’s action, the Astros, Marlins, White Sox, Twins, Cubs, Mariners, and Phillies had already locked one up. The Rockies, Mets, Blue Jays, and Brewers entered Sunday’s contests playing for the remaining three spots. In the event of a tie, the team with the worse 2012 record gets preference.

With all of Sunday’s action finalized, here are your protected pick standings:

Team W L Win%
1 Houston Astros 51 111 .315
2 Miami Marlins 62 100 .383
3 Chicago White Sox 63 99 .389
4 Minnesota Twins 66 96 .407
5 Chicago Cubs 66 96 .407
6 Seattle Mariners 71 91 .438
7 Philadelphia Phillies 73 89 .451
8 Colorado Rockies 74 88 .457
9 Toronto Blue Jays 74 88 .457
10 New York Mets 74 88 .457
11 Milwaukee Brewers 74 88 .457

Last year, the Rockies had a .395 winning percentage, the Jays .451, the Mets .457, and the Brewers .512. Unfortunately for the Brewers, they finish on the outside looking in.

Imagining Theo Epstein in politics

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“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”

That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.

Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.