Joey Votto was saved by his minor league host family

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The Dayton Daily News has an interesting sidebar to the Joey Votto story: a profile of his former minor league host family
who provided him a lifeline when he was at his psychological nadir.
It’s interesting and poignant as it relates to Votto, but it’s plenty
entertaining too as a result of the background it provides about how
guys in the low bush leagues live. Here’s the father of the host
family, explaining part of the rationale for taking in ballplayers:

“Back then our daughters were maybe 12 and 16, and I didn’t want
them to grow up naive. People said, ‘How could you let three
ballplayers and the team trainer live with you?’ I said, ‘Well, the
girls are kind of ugly. I’m trying to help them out.’ ”

He’s not serious, of course, though the article’s next best quote may give anyone pause before taking one of these guys in:

Over the years, they’ve had about a dozen players live with them,
including Votto, who spent his entire 2004 season with the Dragons at
their home.

“Yeah, they had three rules,” he said with a laugh. “No drinking. No girls. Don’t mess with the daughters.”

Linda smiled when his recollection later was relayed to her: “He’s
exactly right, but let me tell you something. Over the course of years,
all of those rules have been broken, and one player broke all three at
once.”

This is why I (a) don’t let my daughter hang out with those t-ball hooligans; and (b) keep my shotgun loaded at all times.

Report: Yankees acquire James Paxton from the Mariners

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Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the Yankees have acquired starter James Paxton from the Mariners. Corey Brock of The Athletic reports that the Mariners will be receiving three prospects from the Yankees: pitcher Justus Sheffield, outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams, and pitcher Erik Swanson.

Paxton, 30, has been among the game’s better starters over the past few years. In 2018, he went 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA and a 208/42 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. The lefty has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining after earning $4.9 million this past season.

Sheffield, 22, is the headliner in the Mariners’ return. He made his major league debut in September for the Yankees, pitching 2 2/3 innings across three appearances. Two of those appearances were scoreless; in the third, he gave up a three-run home run to J.D. Martinez, certainly not an uncommon result among pitchers. MLB Pipeline rates Sheffield as the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect and No. 31 overall in baseball.

Thompson-Williams, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. This past season, between Single-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, he hit .299/.363/.546 with 22 home runs, 74 RBI, 63 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases in 415 plate appearances. He was not among the Yankees’ top-30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline.

Swanson, 25, was selected by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2014 draft. He spent most of his 2018 campaign between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Overall, he posted a 2.66 ERA with a 139/29 K/BB ratio in 121 2/3 innings. MLB Pipeline rated him No. 22 in the Yankees’ system.

This trade comes as no surprise as the Yankees clearly wanted to upgrade the starting rotation and the Mariners seemed motivated to trade Paxton this offseason. To the Mariners’ credit, they got a solid return for Paxton, as Sheffield likely becomes the organization’s No. 1 prospect. The only worry about this trade for the Yankees is how Paxton will fare in the more hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium compared to the spacious Safeco Field. The Yankees are likely not done adding, however. Expect even more new faces before the start of spring training.