<span class="vcard">Craig Calcaterra</span>

braves logo

The Braves sign Cuban outfielder Dian Toscano


David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves have signed Cuban outfielder Dian Toscano to a major league deal.

Toscano is 25. He’s not considered a super prospect — more of a fourth or fifth outfielder type — though he hit for average and got on base in Cuba. I just spoke with someone in the lobby here who has paid some attention to Toscano and he said, as I told him I was going to write this post, that “you’ll think more about him in the couple minutes it takes you to write that post than you will all season, probably.” I feel like that’s probably a good bit of perspective for these sorts of signings.

The Rays reach an agreement allowing them to search for other stadium sites

tropicana field getty

The Tampa Bay Times reports that the Tampa Bay Rays and the city of St. Petersburg have reached an agreement allowing the Rays to look in Hillsborough County — that’s where Tampa is — a potential new stadium sites. In exchange the Rays have agreed to buy out the lease between the team and St. Pete if the Rays do, indeed, move before their Tropicana Field lease is up in 2027.

In the past the city was staunchly against allowing the Rays to do anything like this. There seems to be some reasonable calculation going on here by the new administration. One, that the Rays may not, in fact, find a better deal elsewhere, given how much harder it is to get a stadium financed by someone else now compared to several years ago. Two that, at least with this deal, the buyout provisions are likely more certain than they may have been if the lease was merely broken and litigation ensued. And, finally, St. Pete may have come to realize that the land beneath Tropicana Field is more valuable to the city than the ballpark is, so if there is a means to get the Rays out faster, maybe it’s in the city’s best interests.

Report: The Sox are out! Jon Lester choosing between the Giants and Cubs

lester getty

This is pretty big:

Lester, of course, has always been able to choose where he wants to go. But I think everyone, on some level, thought the Red Sox would be in the game until the end and, possibly, win his services. The Dodgers were in on Lester too and, presumably, are now out as well.

All of this a function of the price tag, obviously. Lester is likely pushing for $150 million and that, it seems is too rich for the Sox’ and Dodgers’ blood.

UPDATE: Lester’s agent is denying Rosenthal’s report:

Worth noting, of course, that Lester’s agent has an interest in making it look as though as many teams are in on the bidding as possible.

The Pirates claim Josh Lindblom from the Athletics

pirates logo

In a move that has shaken the foundations of the Winter Meetings and caused hundreds of writers to cancel their lunch plans, the Pirates have claimed righty Josh Lindblom from the Athletics.

Lindblom was DFA’d by the A’s at the end of November. He’s 27 and joined the A’s last December in the Craig Gentry deal. He made only one start at the big league level for the A’s, allowing two runs in 4 2/3 innings. In 84 innings over 16 starts and one relief appearance with Triple-A Sacramento, he posted a 5.79 ERA with a 60/26 K/BB ratio.

Take a moment to remember where you were when you heard that Lindblom was claimed by Pittsburgh. You’ll want to tell your grandkids about it someday.

One way to fix the Hall of Fame vote? The binary ballot

Hall of Fame ballot

Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch is a first-time Hall of Fame voter this year. But he has certainly thought hard about Hall of Fame voting, and today he has a proposal that, if adopted, would address the biggest complaint a lot of voters have about the process. The complaint which has caused a couple of them to boycott the process: the ten-vote limit.

Goold’s solution: the binary ballot:

The Hall and the writers should embrace the bedrock question and its two simple answers on the ballot by doing away the 10-player limit and just putting two boxes beneath every name on the ballot. Yes. No. This forces the voter to weigh each player individually, not as a group, not when weighted as one of the 10 most-deserving on the ballot. It’s simpler. It’s streamlined. And it fits the theme every voter must confront, the ghost of PEDs past or not.

I like it. Give each guy his individual due and stop with the game theory baloney like, say, not voting for Randy Johnson because you know he’ll get in anyway. Well, dammit, what if you WANT to vote for Randy Johnson?

I like he binary ballot.