Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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Phillies designate Jeanmar Gomez and Michael Saunders for assignment

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Here are a couple of surprising moves: the Philadelphia Phillies have designated righty Jeanmar Gomez and outfielder Michael Saunders for assignment. They gave called up lefty Hoby Milner and outfielder Cameron Perkins to take their places.

Gomez, the team’s closer last season, is making $4.2 million. Saunders, a 2016 All-Star and, somewhat inexplicably, one of the more sought-after bats in a weak free agent market last offseason, was making $9 million. Both have underperformed mightily this year, of course. Gomez lost his closer’s job early this season and has posted a 7.25 ERA over 18 appearances. Saunders was horrible in the second half last season and continued this season apace, hitting .205/.257/.360 over 61 games.

These moves don’t alter the Phillies’ competitive situation all that much but they certainly represent a repudiation of a a big move in the Saunders signing and a rethinking with respect to Gomez and the closer’s role.

The rebuild continues.

Eric Hosmer passes Yonder Alonso in the latest AL All-Star voting update

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Last week Yonder Alonso of the A’s led the AL All-Star voting at first base. This week he’s been passed up by Eric Hosmer of the red-hot Royals, 936,734 votes to 887,645. If Hosmer holds on it will be his second straight selection by the fans at first base.

Elsewhere, Salvador Perez of the Royals leads at catcher, Jose Altuve of the Astros leads things at second base, his teammate Carlos Correa tops shortstops, Miguel Sano of the Twins commands the top spot at the hot corder (1,302,090); and Nelson Cruz of the Mariners leads all others at DH. In the outfield, it’s Aaron Judge of the Yankees, who remains the top overall vote getter then Mike Trout of the Angels and George Springer of the Astros.

Here are all the vote totals:

MLB, Northeastern University team up to provide educational opportunities for players

Northeastern University
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Major League Baseball and Northeastern University have issued press releases today announcing that they have teamed up to establish a program which provides professional baseball players access to higher education programs and degrees. The degree programs, which include both bachelors and graduate studies, will be available to players at all levels both during and after their baseball playing days.

The agreement follows last year’s inclusion of a continuing education program in MLB’s collective bargaining agreement. That provided funds for players to pursue educational development. While, presumably, players can attend other institutions, Northeastern is the “preferred” school, which likely gives players more opportunities if they go there. In addition to Northeastern’s main campus in Boston, it provides remote learning opportunities in Charlotte, Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Toronto.

Northeastern has also agreed to provide dedicated counselors and career advisors to ballplayers taking advantage of the program. It is also pledging to support MLB’s Front Office and Field Staff Diversity Pipeline Program by preparing players for roles in the front office or on-field staffs after their playing careers end.

While many U.S.-based players who are drafted out of high school get their drafting team to agree to cover college expenses in exchange for them foregoing playing college baseball, there are are large number who don’t get such deals. And, of course, a large number of international players who begin their professional baseball journey while still teenagers.

This program will hopefully allow players who choose baseball over their education while they’re young to do so without sacrificing as much as they once were forced to. It will likewise, hopefully, provide a softer landing for the vast majority of professional baseball players who never get close to the major leagues.