Author: Craig Calcaterra

jung-ho kang getty

The Pirates win the bidding for Jung-Ho Kang

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Jon Heyman reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates have won the bidding for infielder Jung-Ho Kang, who was posted by the Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization. As reported two days ago, the amount of the winning bid was $5,002,015.

The Pirates now have exclusive negotiating rights with Kang 30 days from which time the bid was accepted. If a deal isn’t reached in those 30 days, the Pirates will get their posting fee back and Kang will stay with the Heroes.

Kang, 27, batted .356/.459/.739 with 40 home runs and 117 RBI over 117 games this past season for Nexen.

Revolution, expropriation and the Havana Sugar Kings

Sugar Kings
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There’s nothing going on in baseball this week, so just get used to the idea that I’m gonna post interesting stuff that has only the barest possible connection to baseball at all, thereby claiming at least a thread of a justification. If this bothers you, well, welcome to HardballTalk, newbies, because I do this pretty much every Christmas.

Here’s one: a really interesting article talking about one of the implications of normalizing U.S.-Cuban relations. Or, perhaps, an impediment to it: claims by U.S. corporations over assets that the Cuban government seized and nationalized after the revolution. Claims that add up to billions of dollars. While it seems like ancient history, there are people at, say, Coca-Cola, ITT and other companies who, for more than half a century, have kept track of the stuff that used to be theirs in Cuba and which they’d like to be paid for. The article talks about how complicated that is and speculates as to how that could be dealt with going forward. I love learning about stuff like this. Stuff that, in the day-to-day, most people never think about. Or at least I don’t.

OK, the small baseball connection, apart from the fact that we’ve been talking about the baseball implications of the Cuba stuff in the past week: reading this article made me inquire about whatever happened to the Havana Sugar Kings, which was the Triple-A affiliate of, appropriately enough, the Reds. Just a regular old International League team like all the others, just happening to play in Havana.

They actually played out the 1959 (i.e. post-revolution) season. They even won the whole dang International League that year, despite rowdy, gun-firing celebrations of the revolution causing their third base coach and shortstop to suffer flesh wounds. For real. While they were on the field one night. What a gas.

The Sugar Kings pulled up stakes the next year and, after some moving around, ended up in the Norfolk, Virginia area. They’re still there, as the Tides, Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. I wonder if they still have a claim on assets like Coca-Cola and ITT do. Like, say, a bucket of Double Bubble was expropriated or something and they want it back.

Or, maybe it’s possible that the owner of their parent club already settled such matters.

source: AP

I wish Marshawn Lynch played baseball

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I don’t know much about Marshawn Lynch other than, apparently, he’s good at the old footballing. But I really, really wish he played baseball now that I’ve seen how he deals with postgame press conferences.

Yes, I suppose that may be annoying for people who dutifully write down what an athlete says after a game as if it were important and illuminating. But that stuff is hardly ever important and illuminating. If you want to get into Marshawn Lynch’s brain, you research him or do a one-on-one interview with him and plumb some depths, right? You’re not going to learn what makes him tick in the postgame scrum.

Hell, he’s doing reporters a favor here. In addition to the little bit of entertaining performance art in which he is engaging, doesn’t this sort of response inspire reporters to write something more interesting about him or the game?

Phil Hughes signs a three-year extension with the Twins

Phil Hughes
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Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports that Phil Hughes has agreed to a three-year, $42 million extension with the Twins.

Already under contract through 2016, he will get a raise for the next two seasons on top of the three-year extension. He was scheduled to earn $8 million in 2015 and 2016 but now he will earn $9.2 million in each of the next two seasons. Then he will make $13.2 million in each of the three seasons between 2017-19.

Hughes was excellent for the Twins in 2014, going 16-10 with a 3.52 ERA and putting up an eye-popping K/BB ratio of 182/16 in 202.2 innings. This after a terrible 2013 in New York that had many questioning whether he’d fulfill the potential he showed earlier in his career.

Fulfill it he has, and now he’ll be paid nicely for it. And, if he continues to pitch like he did this past season, the Twins will have a nice bargain on their hands.

“Baseball love, Cuban style”

Cuba
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Here’s a colorful slice of Cuban baseball life from Michael Powell of the New York Times. No real narrative or story. Just an afternoon watching people playing baseball in an environment very, very different from that which you and I are likely used to. It’s a good read.

Everyone talks about how the thawing of Cuban relations is going to bring more big Cuban baseball stars to the United States. It’ll be just as interesting, and probably more significant, to see how it changes the lives of everyday Cubans and Americans.