Nightengale notes: Bradley, Swisher, Halladay

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today posted a bunch of interesting notes via Twitter today, including:
* Tampa Bay has become “the clear-cut favorite” to acquire Milton Bradley from the Cubs.
Last offseason the Rays pursued Bradley as a free agent before he signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the Cubs and now they can get him for pennies on the dollar. There have been rumors of a Bradley-for-Pat Burrell swap, as Burrell was a huge disappointing in his first season with the Rays and is owed $9 million in 2010.
* Nick Swisher is “ever so quietly” being shopped by the Yankees.
Swisher was credited with helping to energize the Yankees’ clubhouse and more importantly he made a big on-field impact by hitting .249/.371/.498 with 29 homers and 35 doubles, but going 6-for-47 (.128) in the playoffs overshadowed his strong regular season. Could he be an option for the Cardinals if Matt Holliday signs elsewhere?
* Los Angeles is “focusing on” Roy Halladay because the Dodgers “badly need an ace,” but would have to give up Chad Billingsley “and others” to get a deal done.
Billingsley is 24 years old with a 47-30 record and 3.55 ERA in 634 career innings, so dealing him straight-up for one season of Halladay sounds iffy to me. Dealing him “and others” would likely be a mistake given that Halladay can become a free agent next offseason while Billingsley is under team control through 2012.
* Detroit, Seattle, and a “mystery team” have talked about a deal involving Edwin Jackson and Brandon Morrow.
Various rumors last week had the Tigers shopping Jackson because of payroll constraints and the Mariners have soured on Morrow, but obviously this is tough to weigh in on too much without knowing the third party.

Alex Bregman shows how easy it is to manufacture “controversy” in baseball

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In most sports it takes legitimate trash talk to create off-day “controversy.” In baseball, it takes the weakest sauce. We saw how weak that sauce was yesterday.

Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros are going to face off against Nate Eovaldi and the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the ALCS tonight. It’s worth noting that earlier this season, they hit back-to-back-to-back home runs off of Eovaldi when he was pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Yesterday, in an act which was likely somewhat inspired by self-motivation, somewhat inspired by getting in Eovaldi’s head and somewhat inspired by a simple interest in having fun, Bregman took the video of those back-to-back-to-back homers off of Eovaldi and posted it to his Instagram:

Of course, since this is baseball, where even farting off-key can be construed as “showing up” the opposition or somehow disrespecting the game, it became a thing. Or at least people tried to make it become a thing.

Indeed, it took them a bit to find someone who would help them make it a thing, because Eovaldi himself didn’t care about it a bit, nor did Astros manager A.J. Hinch or Red Sox manager Alex Cora. Eventually, however, they hit pay dirt. Here’s Sox infielder Steve Pearce talking to WEEI.com:

“Wow. I don’t know why he would do that. We do our talking on the field. If he wants to run his mouth now we’ll see who is talking at the end of the series.”

My guess is that almost no one on the planet, Steve Pearce included, would care about this in a vacuum or if they allowed themselves to think through it for more than a second. Baseball culture, though — and let’s be clear about it, baseball media culture — has conditioned most of its players and participants to think that stuff like this is supposed to be controversial, so it actually takes effort not to start dancing to this kind of tune on auto-pilot.

Kudos to Hinch, Cora and Eolvaldi for exerting that effort and not dancing to it. To the press that automatically sought out comment on this and Pearce who dutifully gave it: hey, I get it. It’s hard to resist one’s conditioning. Maybe you’ll be able to resist it next time.