Aaron Gleeman

Pedro Alvarez

Pedro Alvarez’s deal with Orioles worth up to $7 million

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Pedro Alvarez and the Orioles made their one-year deal official today in a press conference. Alvarez will get $5.75 million in guaranteed money, plus another $1.25 million in potential incentives based on playing time that start accumulating once he surpasses 350 plate appearances.

Given that Alvarez figures to be platooned at least somewhat and may not start interleague games in NL ballparks a reasonable projection of 500 plate appearances would earn him $6.55 million in total. Not a bad payday considering Alvarez made $5.75 million with the Pirates last season and was non-tendered because Pittsburgh didn’t want to pay him an estimated $8 million via the arbitration process.

Alvarez is expected to serve as Baltimore’s starting designated hitter, bringing his 30-homer power to a lineup that projects as perhaps the most powerful in all of baseball this season. In fact, if Alvarez, Chris Davis, Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo, and company simply produce like they have in past seasons the Orioles might be the first MLB team since 2010 to hit 250 homers.

Bryce Harper: “Baseball is a tired sport because you can’t express yourself”

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ESPN The Magazine has a lengthy feature story about Bryce Harper and there’s plenty of interesting stuff for people who love or hate the reigning National League MVP, but one particular excerpt figures to draw the most attention.

From a section in which Tim Keown writes about how Harper wants to change the perception of baseball players, the Nationals outfielder says “baseball is tired … it’s a tired sport, because you can’t express yourself.”

Here’s more:

You can’t do what people in other sports do. I’m not saying baseball is, you know, boring or anything like that, but it’s the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair. If that’s Matt Harvey or Jacob deGrom or Manny Machado or Joc Pederson or Andrew McCutchen or Yasiel Puig — there’s so many guys in the game now who are so much fun.

Jose Fernandez is a great example. Jose Fernandez will strike you out and stare you down into the dugout and pump his fist. And if you hit a homer and pimp it? He doesn’t care. Because you got him. That’s part of the game. It’s not the old feeling — hoorah … if you pimp a homer, I’m going to hit you right in the teeth. No. If a guy pimps a homer for a game-winning shot … I mean — sorry.

You want kids to play the game, right? What are kids playing these days? Football, basketball. Look at those players — Steph Curry, LeBron James. It’s exciting to see those players in those sports. Cam Newton — I love the way Cam goes about it. He smiles, he laughs. It’s that flair. The dramatic.

There’s a large and very vocal segment of baseball fans and media members who simply hate Harper and the above quotes will surely add fuel to that fire, but in general I agree with him.

Sports are about entertainment and fun. Athletes doing great things are exciting and impressive. And yet baseball, far more than other sports, seems obsessed with the way things used to be and maintaining some standard of buttoned-up decorum that, frankly, has never been consistent and never will be consistent.

Harper celebrating a home run is treated far differently than a similar celebration from a 15-year veteran deemed a “good guy” by reporters covering his team. Young players don’t need to be demonized for not behaving like old players any more than the average kid needs to hear another story about how his grandfather walked to school up a hill in the snow.

Young players should be celebrated for being great and exciting and vital to the sport’s growth. Harper represents much of what old fans dislike about sports, but he also represents much of what new fans enjoy about sports and his presence as a young, exceptionally talented superstar behaving how a young, exceptionally talented superstar chooses to behave will lead to more sports fans falling in love with baseball.

Mets center fielder Yoenis Cespedes would prefer to play left field

New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes speaks during a baseball press conference at CitiField in New York, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. Cespedes agreed to a $75 million, three-year deal with the team. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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In re-signing Yoenis Cespedes to a three-year, $75 million contract the Mets sacrificed some defense by committing to use him as their starting center field, but it turns out Cespedes sacrificed something too: He’d rather be playing left field.

Cespedes has made it clear that he’s got zero problem playing center field, but also told Marly Rivera of ESPN.com:

If I had the choice, I would stay in left field. But I will play where the team needs me. If they want me to play center field, I’ll play center field, and I’ll do the best I can. When I came here [to MLB] in 2012, I started playing center field. But that same year I moved to left field. That was a little difficult, but I got used to it already. Now I feel much more comfortable in left field. But my mind, and I’ve always said, if you are a good outfielder, you can play most positions.

New York has Curtis Granderson in right field and Michael Conforto in left field, so Cespedes playing center field most days is a huge part of their roster construction. And having his bat in the lineup at a premium position is a huge part of what makes him such an impact player, even if he’s giving back some runs on defense.

For his career Cespedes has started 382 games in left field, 104 games in center field, and 77 games at designated hitter. This season, assuming the Mets stick with their current plan, Cespedes’ breakdown figures to be about three-fourths center field and one-fourth left field.