Ken Rosenthal reports that the Toronto Blue Jays have signed Michael Bourn to a minor league contract. The Braves had released him a week ago.
Bourn, 33, hit .238/.310/.282 with 17 stolen bases in 482 plate appearances between the Indians and Braves last season and then couldn’t make a bad Braves club out of camp. He’ll likely be in the minors until an injury or two happens, or until he shows that he’s really prepared to bounce back in a major way.
Richard Sandomir of the New York Times reports that Dallas Braden has been named Curt Schilling’s replacement on ESPN’s Monday Night Baseball broadcasts.
Braden, famous for tossing a perfect game in 2010, retied from baseball in early 2014, calling his arm a “shredded mess.” He only pitched 18 more innings after the 2010 season, saying “I left my arm on the mound at the Coliseum.” Since then he has had various media jobs, most recently as a studio talking head on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight.”
All in all it’s a pretty logical move. Braden’s profile has been rising on ESPN telecasts. I can’t say I’ve caught enough of his stuff on the air to know if he’s any good, but he’s always been outspoken and a little off-the-wall. The sort of player who eschewed cliches. That’s probably a good trait to have in this line of work.
While it might be nice for sports broadcasts to get away from hiring ex-players all of the time, if they’re going to do so they should at least try to get a mix of competent analysis and entertainment value. That’s a hard balance, of course — Schilling’s original hire was likely based on him being an outspoken, unpredictable guy and we see how that turned out — but it’s worth trying again. ESPN will now try it with Braden.
Bret Boone was an All-Star and Silver Slugging second baseman whose career peaked in Seattle in the early 2000s. But by 2005 he had fallen off a cliff, performance-wise, was sent to Minnesota, flamed out in 14 games and never played again.
He has an autobiography coming out on May 10 and in it he reveals that his falloff was not just a matter of age and slowed bat speed. The bottle helped end his career:
“I needed a drink. So I had one, and then another. I’d polish off a six-pack of beer and reach for another six-pack. Eventually I made the mistake of switching from beer to clear — from the slow, easy buzz of Bud Light or Miller Lite to the sharper edge of Absolut and Ketel One, a bottle at a time . . . Nobody knew how much I was drinking. To the baseball men I loved and trusted, it seemed like the usual late-career crisis.”
A lot of people have speculated, based on his late career power spike, that Boone used performance enhancing drugs. He denies ever doing so in the book, but one thing is clear: he was definitely doing things that detracted from his performance.
I haven’t seen an advance copy of the book, but here’s hoping the ending — the present — is a happy one and that he has come to manage his addiction.