Craig Calcaterra

jung-ho kang getty

The Pirates have reached a four-year deal with Jung-ho Kang

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Jim Bowden of ESPN reports that the Pirates have reached a four-year deal with infielder Jung-ho Kang. The deal is believed to be worth around $16 million and it will also carry an option for the 2019 season. When you add the posting fee to that, the Pirates are on the hook for about $21 million.

Kang hit .354/.457/.733 with 39 home runs and 115 RBI in 116 games last season Nexen Heroes in Korea. Whether that will translate to decent major league hitting or whether Kang will even have a regular position with the Pirates is an open question. At the moment Pittsburgh’s infield consists of Neil Walker at second base, Jordy Mercer at shortstop, and Josh Harrison at third.

Ranking the top 25 general managers in history

Andy MacPhail AP
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Two incredibly smart dudes — one of whom is an occasional HBT commenter — have a book coming out. The dudes: Mark Armour and Dan Levitt. The book: In Pursuit of Pennants, which examines how front offices have historically found innovative ways to build winning teams. A process that, contrary to popular belief, did not begin with Billy Beane and “Moneyball.”  The book comes out April 1. You can pre-order it here.

In anticipation of the rollout of that book, Mark and Dan have a blog about it all, and today they have begun counting down the top 25 general managers in baseball history. Today is 25: Andy MacPhail. Here is an explanation of the top-25 project. Here is the post on Mr. MacPhail.

We analyze everything else in baseball, but front office moves — especially historical ones — are often overlooked because front offices usually aren’t as colorful as managers and players and the data not as readily available. It’s great that Mark and Dan are embarking on this project and that, come April, we’ll be able to read a book dedicated to a subject that has never been dealt with in such depth in one single place.

Tweet of the Day: Zany Roy Halladay strikes again

roy halladay getty
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Roy Halladay as a pitcher: serious. Cold as ice, and one of the fiercest competitors in recent baseball history. Roy Halladay in retirement: kinda hilarious, actually. His latest:

Given that baseball Halladay routinely killed the team I rooted for, I much, much prefer zany post-retirement Halladay.

(Thanks to Rik for the heads up)

Yep, it’s January. We’re talking about “selfie rules” at baseball games

Ortiz selfie
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Fox’s Jon Paul Morosi was watching a soccer game last night when a player took a selfie after scoring a goal and it went mildly viral. This probably amused some people. It probably annoyed some other people. Morosi was inspired:

As I watched the scene at Stadio Olimpico from a continent away, my thoughts wandered back to the sport I cover: Baseball should do something like this.

After which he makes a case for how baseball should and could implement a designated selfie camera and that there would be rules about it and everything.

I assume — and sincerely hope — that the impulse here was tongue and cheek and an excuse to write a few amusing words about something with a vague baseball connection during a particularly dead time in baseball’s offseason. God knows I do that all the time. But the form of the argument seems disturbingly earnest, as if it’s a proposal Morosi actually supports. Or, at the very least, cares about enough to take a position on one way or another. It’s hard to tell with Morosi sometimes. He means well. I truly believe that. But he has some uncanny valley element to him sometimes that makes it hard to tell what note he’s actually trying to strike.

But I do know this much: if baseball did institutionalize selfies like Morosi suggests, we’d begin a tedious conversation about the proper time to take selfies, the unwritten rules of selfies and, eventually, some pitcher is gonna hit a guy because he felt his selfie disrespected the game or some nonsense. Then someone would talk about how Bob Gibson would plant a pitch in the ear of someone who took a selfie back in 1968 and we’d be forced to take that person seriously for a few minutes.

Oh well. If you need me I’ll be in my time machine, traveling back to 1974 to write a column about how baseball teams should designate a special part of their grandstand for fans who wish to streak.

The Rockies are talking to Ryan Vogelsong

Ryan Vogelsong
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Last week there was a rumor that the Colorado Rockies were talking to the Marlins about maybe trading for Dan Haren. That would’ve been a bad idea given Haren’s fly ball tendencies. It probably would be a better idea than this, though:

Vogelsong was 8-13 with a 4.00 ERA in 2014 and 4-6 with a 5.73 ERA in 2013. He turns 38 in July. While he’s not as homer-happy as Dan Haren is, it’s not likely he’d do well in Coors Field either, where he has given up 40 hits, ten of which were homers, in 30 innings over the course of his career, posting a 7.92 ERA.