The Phillies have just announced that they’ve signed Yuniesky Betancourt to a minor league deal with an invite to major league spring training. Likely because Ruben Amaro wants me to be happy.
Betancourt hit .228/.256/.400 with seven homers last season and over the course of his career he has been one of the most consistent out-creators in all of baseball. And his defense is poor, despite the fact that he occasionally makes a highlight reel play out of instinct and/or accident.
All of which shouldn’t be the worst thing ever seeing as though this is a minor league deal. Except that the Phillies have a history of giving veterans on minor league deals a decent amount of playing time once the season begins. Juan Pierre and Mike Fontenot each got a lot of playing time for Philly after signing minor league deals last year.
So pray for Jimmy Rollins’ health, Phillies fans. Pray hard.
Sammy Sosa walked disgruntledly out of Wrigley Field in the middle of his final game with the Cubs back in October 2004. He was fined $87,400 for going AWOL and the Cubs traded him before the start of the 2005 season to the Orioles for Jerry Hairston Jr., Mike Fontenot and Dave Crouthers.
The relationship between Sosa and the Cubs has been strained since that incident — and the PED stuff hasn’t helped — but it might be time to let bygones be bygones. Here’s new team chairman Tom Ricketts, speaking in front of fans and reporters Saturday at the annual Cubs Convention in downtown Chicago:
“When we got here, there wasn’t much communication and we just really haven’t focused on it,” said Ricketts. “But maybe it’s an issue we pick up this year and see what we can do about it.”
“With Sammy, it’s awkward. I think over time there will be a good solution for all this stuff. But obviously we saw what happened with the Hall of Fame voting this year. I don’t know. It would be nice to put this chapter to rest and just welcome back all the guys who were from that era who were suspected of doing whatever.”
Those quotes come courtesy of CSNChicago.com’s Patrick Mooney. Sosa hit .284/.358/.569 with 545 home runs and 1,414 RBI in his 13-year stay with the Cubs. He owns several prominent franchise records.
Mike Fontenot, who was released by the Phillies in August, has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Rays.
Once upon a time Fontenot looked like a solid regular, but his stock has dipped dramatically in recent years. He got a late start in the majors and then hit .291 with an .826 OPS in 205 games through his first two seasons for the Cubs, but in four years since then he’s hit just .252 with a .686 OPS in 370 games.
He has experience at second base, third base, and shortstop, but at age 32 he’ll have to hit more to have any sort of significant big-league value. Tampa Bay also re-signed outfielder Rich Thompson to a minor-league deal and odds are he’ll be teammates with Fontenot at Triple-A.
More Phillies leaving town: Mike Fontenot was just designated for assignment.
Fontenot hit .289/.343/.340 with a home run, seven RBI in 47 games. Now he’ll work for food. Or a veteran’s minimum salary.
Michael Martinez has been called up from Lehigh Valley to take his place on the roster.
I went to a Columbus Clippers game last Saturday. My seats were choice: first row, right at the dugout. The best part: being so close to the action and being just beyond the screen meant that I was in mortal fear of having my head taken off by a foul ball all game which, in turn, required me to pay total attention to every pitch. Can’t remember the last time I was so engaged at a ballgame!
Worst part: that part of the park attracted a bunch of ball hawk kids, constantly leaning over the rail begging people in the dugout for balls. One kid even yelled at Andy LaRoche, asking for his bat. This right after LaRoche hit a home run. I said to the kid “what makes you think he wants to give up a bat he just hit a homer with?” The kid said “why should he care?” Oy. The sense of entitlement among today’s whippersnappers!
But sometimes that souvenir lust can go beyond annoying. It can actually impact the game itself:
With two on and two outs in the seventh inning, Philadelphia third baseman Mike Fontenot tracked a soft popup near the seats in foul territory to get the Phillies out of the inning.
Just as he was reaching up to make the catch, a young kid’s glove came over the top and snatched it away. Fontenot looked over and the youngster was wearing a Phillies cap and shirt. Minnesota’s Ben Revere followed with an RBI single, proving that these hard-luck Phillies just can’t catch a break.
I am informed by numerous previous comment threads that I am not to call this kid out, however. He is merely passionate. Or something.
(thanks to Kopy for the heads up)