USA TODAY’s Ted Berg recapped an as yet unaired episode of Jim Rome on Showtime, writing that recent Hall of Fame inductee Frank Thomas is still asking questions about some of the players who played at the same time he did, including Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire.
“I knew it was shady when Sammy Sosa hit 60 home runs,” Thomas said.”Sammy Sosa was my teammate for three years coming up. So watching his career and watching him grow, for three years he was capable of only 20-25, 27 home runs at the most… there’s no way Sammy doubled me up. With Mark McGwire, you really had to take a look at it because Mark McGwire had 48 home runs as a rookie.”
Thomas also criticized ESPN’s Skip Bayless:
“I hate to bring up names,” Thomas said, “but Skip Bayless even said the other week, ‘How did I walk through the door without any suspicion?’ And I would like to have a conversation with him because I walked the walk and talked the talk from Day 1.”
If you thought Thomas would let the issue go now that he has earned induction into the Hall of Fame, think again. It seems like Thomas is going to be harping on this issue for a while. Thomas is on record saying that he doesn’t believe that PED users should be in the Hall of Fame. One has to wonder when the media and some of the more vocal former and active players will simply accept that the offensive boom of the late 1980’s through the early 1990’s happened and it’s fruitless to try to act as if it never happened.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.