Craig Calcaterra

shane victorino getty

The Cubs sign Shane Victorino to a minor league deal


Ken Rosenthal reports that the Chicago Cubs have signed outfielder Shane Victorino to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.

Given that the Cubs have a very full outfield at the moment, with fourth and fifth outfielders who could be starting lots of places, there will not be much room for the Flyin’ Hawaiian. But depth is depth and injuries happen and, worst case, this gives Victorino a chance to work out and play this spring with the hopes of catching on elsewhere.

Victorino played in 71 games between Boston and Anaheim last year and only 30 games in 2014. He was quite productive in 122 games back in 2013, when he was last fully healthy, so it’s not out of the question that he has a bit left in the tank for a backup role.

Move over Daniel Norris: Andrew Chafin lives in a camper too

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Andrew Chafin reacts after earning his first save and defeating the San Diego Padres  7-2 during a baseball game, Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Associated Press

Last yeat Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris got a lot of press by virtue of his living in a Volkswagen camper van. He’s not the only one eschewing stationary housing. Nick Piecoro reports on Diamondbacks reliever Andrew Chafin who likewise lives in an RV.

It’s a pretty different deal that Norris’, however. Chafin lives in a big fifth wheel (the large kind that is pulled from the bed of a pickup). My parents were full-time RVers until very recently and, depending on the model you get, those things can be pretty fancy. My folks had two freakin’ bathrooms, leather recliners, flat screen TV and a dang kitchen island. Even if Chafin’s isn’t quite as ridiculous as my retired old parents’ fifth wheel was, it’s still likely a pretty nice setup.

Relative luxury aside, it’s still a distinctly different experience than that of most big league players who live in fancy houses or downtown condos. And certainly makes being traded or something a lot easier. The only downside is that if Chafin is traded, I won’t get to write a “Wanna buy Andrew Chafin‘s House?” post here. He’ll just hook it up to the pickup and roll on to the next town.

Philly columnist writes open letter to Ryan Howard begging him to retire

ryan howard getty

One of the worst gimmicks in journalism is the open letter. They’re self-important. They’re also disingenuous in that they forego the work of actually convincing readers of something and, instead, assume they all agree and that the writer is merely communicating that consensus to the recipient. Also: the subject of an open letter is almost always stupid itself. If it was interesting, one would just write a column rather than glitz it up like that.

Today’s open letter from Stu Bykofsky of the Philadelphia Daily News is no different in this regard. It purports to be addressed to Ryan Howard, imploring him to retire:

Of our 2008 heroes, only you and Chooch, Carlos Ruiz, remain.

Both of you are slowly sliding into the shadows.

You’ve gone from the Big Piece to the Big Load.

Since blowing up your Achilles’ tendon in 2011, you haven’t been the same. The comeback year you and we expected never came.

Don’t do this to us, Ryan. Don’t make us hate you. Don’t make the Phillies cut you.

Retire at season’s end. Please.

It’s dumb for a lot of reasons, but the dumbest is its central premise: that a ballplayer’s career decisions should be made based on the caprice of fans as opposed to his desire to still play and a team’s desire to still employ him. That’s the unstated conceit of all manner of sports commentary, however, primarily on talk radio. That what Joe from Bucks County or whatever thinks of a given player should be how the team thinks of him. It’s an offshoot from the overrated/underrated and “he’s a bum” school of sports analysis.

Ryan Howard is finishing out a contract that was not great for the Phillies and he has not been the same player since his big injury at the end of 2011, but whether some lame columnist is pained to see him play is about the last thing he or the Phillies should consider when deciding how long he wears red pinstripes.