David Ortiz Reuters

Today is the Sox’ annual Patriot’s Day game. It’s more significant now than ever.

18 Comments

Today the Red Sox play their annual Patriot’s Day morning game. And today is the Boston Marathon. Emotions at both locations will run high.

Last year, the Red Sox beat the Rays in a walkoff win. As that game was ending, everything was changing. As the team headed to the airport for their flight to the next city and next series, news of the Boston Marathon bombings spread and the entire city of Boston was shaken. There was fear and confusion and sorrow but, a few days later when the Red Sox got back to town, those feelings were met with strength and resolve. They were met with David Ortiz’s stirring speech to Red Sox fans and the city as a whole: “This is OUR F***in’ City!” he said. And with that, Boston Strong came to define the Red Sox season

Which isn’t to say that what happened at the Marathon was about the Red Sox or that everything the Red Sox do is about the Marathon. But it is undeniable that the Red Sox served as a rallying point and welcome diversion from the horror that was visited upon the city last Patriot’s Day. And that the tragedy of the bombings and the example the city set in the wake helped inspire the team. I’m sure every city would rally strongly if such a thing were to occur there — we’ve, unfortunately, seen cities have to do that in the past — but it just served as another reminder of how particularly close the Red Sox and Boston are. How the bond between sports and the city as a whole may be stronger in Boston than a lot of places, for a lot of reasons.

Last night the heroes of the aftermath of the bombings were remembered at Fenway Park in an official ceremony. I suspect that, later this morning, there will be many more unofficial remembrances to go along with it as the Red Sox take the field on a beautiful Patriot’s Day. In a city that could not be defeated and I suspect cannot be defeated.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

Brandon Belt
Leave a comment

In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

Leave a comment

Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

4 Comments

Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system in baseball

Braves 2
Associated Press
17 Comments

Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!

Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.