Craig Calcaterra

Darwin Barney Getty

The Dodgers sign Darwin Barney to a one-year deal

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The Dodgers signed infielder Darwin Barney to a one-year deal last night. He made $2.3 million in 2014. His deal for 2015: $2.525 million.

Barney can’t hit a lick, but he’s useful as a reserve infielder. Primarily a second baseman when he was with the Cubs, when the Dodgers got him last year he played a bit of shortstop in both L.A. and at Triple-A. He’s probably one of the few second baseman out there who can go left on the defensive spectrum like that, and his ability to do so should help him stick as a utility guy.

The Royals re-sign Luke Hochevar

Luke Hochevar
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Luke Hochevar was once a failed starter, then a lights-out reliever, than an injured pitcher who hit free agency. But now he’s not going anywhere, as the Royals have re-signed him. Jon Heyman reports that the deal is for two-years and $10 million.

Hochevar was the overall number one pick in the 2006 draft, Hochevar was a disappointment as a starter for years. But in 2013 he moved to the pen and tossed 70 innings with a 1.92 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio. Sadly, last spring he had to have Tommy John surgery. If his recovery timetable holds, he should be pitching again this spring training.

And if he’s back to his 2013 form in 2015, the Royals bullpen would have, almost impossibly, gotten even better.

“Billy Boy”: The Josh Donaldson trade was reportedly sparked by an argument with Billy Beane

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Well, this would certainly explain the Josh Donaldson trade better than a lot of other things. Scott Miller of Bleacher Report says that, late in the season, the A’s All-Star third baseman got into a shouting match with GM Billy Beane. The reason for the dispute: Donaldson said he needed a day off and Beane wasn’t having it.

Miller said Beane told Donaldson if he couldn’t play he should go on the DL and Donaldson chafed. Then this:

“Donaldson told the manager he needed a blow, and [Bob] Melvin said, ‘You got it,’ ” the source said. “Then that night’s lineup came out and Billy asked, ‘Where’s Donaldson?’ ”

When told what happened, the source says, an angry Beane demanded that Melvin put Donaldson back into the lineup.
“They got into it in the coach’s office,” the source says, describing a scene in which Beane lit into Donaldson, with the third baseman reiterating his need for a day off and petulantly calling Beane “Billy Boy.”

“Nobody talks to Billy that way,” the source said. “It did not surprise me in the least that he got rid of Donaldson.”

Moreover, last night Wendy Thurm linked to a pre-trade series of tweets by Donaldson in which he appeared to be taking issue with the A’s frugal ways too. Specifically, someone talked about the A’s being strapped for cash and Donaldson said “they have plenty of money my friend. They just tell everyone they don’t.” Of course, Billy Beane, in addition to being the GM, is part-owner of the A’s.

This wouldn’t be the first time Beane traded off a guy who he considered to be a problem in what, at the time, seemed to be a perplexing deal for an unequal return. Anyone remember Jeremy Giambi for John Mabry in 2002? That was some fun stuff. At the time people kinda freaked out because Giambi was seen as a prospect/SABR-darling and Mabry was . . . not. Of course, we came to learn that Giambi was a total screwup and Mabry, quite amazingly, played like and MVP after the trade. And of course, those 2002 A’s were the “Moneyball” A’s who went on to win 103 games.

Which isn’t to say that the Donaldson trade will turn out that way. Donaldson is, after all, a legitimately good player whereas Giambi was . . . not. At all. But, if Miller’s report is true, it would not be the first time Beane was willing to ride someone he perceived to be a problem out of town on a rail.

Help baseball grow in Ireland by helping the Baseball United Foundation

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People are always asking me around this time of year what sort of baseball gifts to buy friends and family. I don’t always have a good answer to that, but this is a great answer for someone who is both into baseball and Irish heritage, and I know there are a lot of those folks out there: Irish baseball merch.

That merch comes from the Baseball United Foundation, which is a charitable organization whose goal is to grow the game of baseball Ireland. It’s a great time for it too, as the game has started to take hold over the past decade or two and could really use a shove.

Sorry Old Hoss Radbourn. The Irish really do like baseball. Irish immigrants formed its foundation in the United States in the 19th century and now they’re getting back into it.

One of the bigger things the Baseball United Foundation does is ship equipment over to Ireland to help youth baseball grow. They buy it with money, of course, and to do that they have to obtain money. They take donations if you’re so inclined. They also sell some pretty cool Irish Baseball merch. Like this:

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And this:

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They have a lot of other things, one of which is a team shirt for the Belfast Northstars. Yes, baseball in Ireland is both orange and green, thank you. Sales of the Northstars merch goes directly to the Northstars.

So: get some cool stuff and help baseball grow. Sound like a plan? Of course it does.

There are hundreds of teenaged “transaction monkeys” out there hustling for scoops

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I feel like I should just leave that headline stand on its own. Or maybe use it as the slug line on the movie poster of the baseball-themed exploitation (“Basesploitation“) flick I’ve been planning. Sort of a Russ Meyer thing. I’ll have more details later.

But do know the subject of the movie could very well be that which is discussed in Joshua Kusnick’s latest over at Baseball Prospectus, in which he talks about how often he is contacted by would-be teen scoopsmiths, looking for tips. In all seriousness, this shocks me:

. . . sometime in 2013 I began to notice what seemed like a potentially negative trend. I was contacted by well over 100 teenagers asking me to be “their source.” I would have people just flat-out ask me for information—sometimes just general information, but mostly secret information. I have gotten all sorts of variations: The “I’d be honored if you were my source” approach, or the “I have dream, just like you had to have had when you were my age, so you owe it to me to help” plea. My favorite: “If you’re not willing to work with me as a source can you just tell me who would?”

Kunsick has advice for these sorts of people, most of which boils down to “man, don’t be such pushy jerks, OK?” Which one would hope isn’t necessary, but apparently is.

I’m not sure what these hundreds of kids are after. I mean, sure, I suppose a lot of them want to be baseball reporters, but I would hope most of them realize that getting a random, minor bit of transaction news doesn’t exactly move that ball forward very much.