Craig Calcaterra

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves

Peter Moylan to be a player-coach in the Braves minor league system

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We noted that Peter Moylan signed with the Braves the other day. But he’s not just pitching and trying to eventually make the team. Rather:

After talking to his wife and agent, Moylan confirmed that he would be crazy not to accept the Braves’ offer to spend this season as a player-coach for Rookie Level Danville and then potentially come to big league camp as one of Atlanta’s non-roster invitees next year.

Not a bad deal for a guy who is coming off his second Tommy John surgery and who could’ve reasonably expected that no one would have a place for him at all. Now he has time to rehab with no pressure on him to immediately perform. He has a plan for at least a year and, even better, it’s a plan with an organization he likes a lot. Moylan:

“The Braves have always been kind of like that ex-girlfriend that you always think about,” Moylan said. “I’d always check the Braves’ results and hope that they were doing well. But I can do it for real now and not have to hide it.”

“If you see her, say hello, she might be in Tangier. She left here last early spring, is livin’ there I hear . . . ”

 

Your weekly “Barry Bonds with some cheesy rando” picture has arrived

Barry Bonds Glass
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Last week: Michael Bolton. This week:

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I have long opposed the Character Clause on the Hall of Fame ballot, but if Barry Bonds keeps hanging out with people like this, I may have to reassess that position.

It’s the Yasiel Puig show at Sloan Park today

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MESA, Ariz. — Today’s game between the Cubs and the Dodgers hasn’t lived up to the hype of a Zack Greinke-Jon Lester matchup. Greinke wasn’t sharp. Lester was OK. Sort of whatever. As I write this it’s tied at three in the top of the fifth and we’re heading into the benches. Phil Coke is making his Cubs debut, so I suppose that’s something. Spring training: feel the excitement.

Know what is exciting, though? Yasiel Puig. He’s playing center field and hitting third for Los Angeles today. And if you just perused box scores you wouldn’t necessarily think too much of his day. A single and a run scored so far. But:

  • That single was a full-blown sprint on a ball hit deep to short that most players would not have beaten out;
  • After advancing to second, he was dead to rights between second and third on a grounder to third that looked as if it would go through. But he stopped, juked, jived, flopped and likely cast three spells of confusion on the third baseman, and managed to make it safely to third base. He then came around to score.
  • On defense he saved one run by throwing a laser to third base on sac fly, holding a baserunner at second. If he had tried to kill the run that scored on the sac, the runner would be at third. Before the inning ended with no more damage done, there was an infield single, meaning that the throw saved a run.
  • Earlier than that he hustled to cut off a ball in the gap, turning what should have been a three-run double into a two run single.
  • Just now, in the bottom of the fourth, Puig robbed Anthony Rizzo of extra bases by slamming into the wall to catch a rocket he hit to right-center for the inning’s third out. Puig appeared shaken up at first, but got up under his own power and ran back to the dugout to a huge, respectful round of applause by the Sloan Park fans.

I imagine that, somewhere, someone is writing a column in which they question Yasiel Puig’s judgment for playing a spring training game at Mach 2 with his hair on fire rather than saving it for the regular season. But these are the same folks who, somehow, can watch Yasiel Puig play baseball every day and think that he is anything other than a joy and a gift of a ballplayer. One that, yes, messes up a good bit, but one which shouldn’t bug people without a vested interest in the Los Angeles Dodgers the way he does.

Oh, and one who appears to continue to all of the right things — big and little — this spring.

The sights and sounds of the Cubs new spring training facility

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MESA, Ariz. — It’s not brand new. They played here last year. But I was in Florida last year and didn’t see it. And does anything truly exist in any way outside of our sensory perception of it? That’s deep, man.

Either way, this place is a friggin’ palace:

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Based purely on architecture and aesthetics (as I write this the game hasn’t started so I can’t give it a full grade) it has got to be up there at the top of any sane list of best spring training parks. Also on that short list is Jet Blue Park in Florida. Which is so much fun. There was a time when the Cubs and the Red Sox were thought of as two of the saddest organizations going, playing in old facilities and all of that. Now Fenway has been wonderfully renovated, Wrigley is on its way there and they play in the top two spring training joints in baseball. If the Cubs win a ring in the next couple of years the world will have officially been turned upside down.

 

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Bears throughout the years. The sixth one from the right, which corresponds to the 1940s looks more like a badger. THe one to the left of that looks more like a chimpanzee. The Cubs have had a weird history.

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Most teams put banners of their players on the side of their stadiums. The Cubs do so in the style of throwback Topps cards. Advantage: Cubs.

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The park is now called Sloan Park, named after the “Proud Water Efficiency Partner of the Chicago Cubs.” Sloan takes this seriously. This ad is from the wall of the men’s room in the press box.

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This photo is taken looking out from the press and team entrance to the ballpark, looking west. The building in the distance there is where the clubhouse and team offices are. Most new facilities have these parts of their spring facilities separated, but I believe the Cubs’ is the only one that has such a defined walkway between the two, allowing fans to watch players come on over and get close. Usually there are any number of ways to the main park, some out of sight. The Cubs might have this too — I didn’t see all of the players actually come over — but this is a nice touch.

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There are a lot of callbacks to Wrigley Field here, obviously.

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More Wrigley callbacks.

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Even more Wrigley callbacks, though just barely with that scoreboard. I will say, though, that the new frontier in spring training joints is outfield seating. The Cubs’ old place — Hohokam Park — didn’t have any seating in the outfield when they were there. Just a fence and nothin’. The next generation of parks brought in outfield berms and most places have those now. Bright House Field in Clearwater, Jet Blue and now Sloan Park have some pretty substantial outfield seats and/or concession areas. These places are feeling less and less like minor league parks and more like something in between minor and major league places.

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The press box. Today I’m sitting in the second window from the right. Not bad seats.

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Let’s play two?

Gio Gonzalez feels good “right meow”

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Spring training is the best. Take this interview of Nats starter Gio Gonzalez in which he uses the word “meow” instead of now multiple times, clearly egged on to do so by Max Scherzer, who was counting each time Gonzalez said “meow.”

Pranks and things can be fun, but absurdist humor is something I can really get behind.