Craig Calcaterra

Asdrubal Cabrera

Asdrubal Cabrera named the Rays’ starting shortstop


Kinda surprised at this: Marc Topkin reports that the Rays plan to name Asdrubal Cabrera their starting shortstop.

Cabrera finished 2014 with the Nationals, primarily as a second baseman. As he wound down seven-and-a-half seasons with the Indians, the thought was that he really didn’t play as a good defensive shortstop any longer, and it was expected that the Rays would use him at second just like the Nats did, with Nick Franklin or Tim Beckham playing short. That’s apparently out now, presumably because, according to the article, neither Franklin nor Beckham has impressed at short this spring and because Cabrera has made it clear he’s more comfortable there and Rays’ brass acknowledges that.

Also possibly playing into the mix, but not mentioned in the article: Cabrera is on a one-year deal and it’d be way better for the Rays — who I don’t think will contend — to feature him as a shortstop in the first half in an effort to draw some interest in him at the deadline in what will likely be a thin market for shortstops.

Matt Harvey is back, “And he’s got great hair, too”

Matt Harvey

New York Magazine has a feature on Mets pitcher Matt Harvey. It starts with him in a salon, “his hair still glistening from a vigorous shampooing,” after his stylist mentioned that Ian Schrager, the founder of Studio 54, had asked him to inquire about Harvey’s workout habits.

Think people are hungry for a new megastar ballplayer in New York?

The story, based on interviews done before spring training started, sets up the interesting and precarious position in which Matt Harvey finds himself as a personality, separate and apart from his identity as a ballplayer. He’s outgoing and doesn’t appear to have a shred of anxiety about being in the spotlight. He loves New York — lives and breathes the city — and wants to experience everything it offers. He’s basically a budding Joe Namath figure.

However, baseball — and especially the New York baseball media — has had 20 years of the quiet, businesslike Derek Jeter as its celebrity “face,” if you will. It and the baseball public expect bland quotes, no controversies and little if any information about how the ballplayer spends his downtime. It also has, in ways it never did before Derek Jeter came around, decided that one is almost not allowed to be recognized as a superstar until one has won a championship ring or five. Throw Harvey into that mix, and you’re bound to get criticism, thinkpieces, counter-thinkpieces and all manner of noise.

The interesting part of this: Jeter himself has told Harvey to be himself. Has even given him a platform at his Players’ Tribune to do just that. Is that enough to mollify the fans, the reporters and the sports radio goons who get on Harvey’s case for, by all appearances, simply being himself? Or are we simply in an age when no one is allowed to be Joe Namath anymore and everyone has to be Derek Jeter?

The Yankees want their players to eat right

Crop of vegetables. Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and other vegetables.

The Yankees have hired a nutritionist in an effort to make sure the players eat performance enhancing food:

As teams in every sport try to upgrade players’ nutrition for a competitive advantage, the Yankees have joined the fray. This winter they hired Cynthia Sass, a nutritionist, and gave her a mission to recommend the finest and healthiest food spread in baseball and persuade the players to eat it.

“We’re trying to build a more perfect beast,” Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said.

Notable also because the club hired a minor league nutritionist as well. As we’ve documented here before, minor leaguers are paid like crap and eat accordingly. Taco Bell, after all, is way cheaper than a place that has a lot of fish and fresh vegetables. Better that the team is helping them make good dietary choices be it by giving them more money or by providing that food themselves.

I find it crazy that it’s still a relatively new phenomenon. People have linked good diets and good athletic performance for way longer than most of us have been alive. Seems like they should’ve been doing this years ago.

Andrew McCutchen is the best because he hates “Centerfield” too

mccutchen getty

If you asked me who my favorite current player is, the finalists would all be triple-threat guys. Guys who can hit, field and run at elite levels are just who I’m into today. That gives us Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen at the top. A notch down from them is Puig. If Michael Brantley strings together a couple more years like last year he’s up there too. I have a type these days.

Because of time zones I see McCutchen play more than the other guys, so I’d guess he’d be the one I’d have to say is my favorite current player. But if there was any doubt about that before, his answers to these random questions over at The Players’ Tribune may end it.

His least favorite song at the ballpark is “Centerfield.” He calls it “Put me in Coach,” but he clearly means “Centerfield.” It’s horrifying. And it’s played almost every single baseball game you go to, spring or regular season. The guy is subjected to that song pushing 200 times a year, I imagine, and it has to be the worst thing in the world.

Also: I like his favorite sandwich. And his choice of Bugs Bunny as the best cartoon character of all time is objectively correct.

This is why he is an MVP, people.

Deviled eggs on a slab of bacon at the ballpark? Sure, why not?

Comerica Park

The Tigers already sell bacon on a stick at Comerica Park. Really, it’s just a hunk of thick-cut bacon on a stick. They sell it at the craft beer stand in right field. Righteous place, actually, even though I’ve never got the bacon.

They’re kicking it up a couple of notches this year:

Nothin’ says “baseball” like deviled eggs and bacon. Give me one of those, wash it down with a Bell’s Oberon and it may as well be 1979 at Tiger Stadium all over again!