Marlins not looking to deal Cantu, but should be

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As usual the Marlins are going to spend the offseason cutting payroll and trading players making more than minimum salaries, but MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports that they’re “almost 100 percent” certain to keep Jorge Cantu.
On the heels of apparently balking at 25-year-old ace Josh Johnson’s long-term contract demands, the decision to hang onto Cantu of all players is very odd. Cantu is a good but not great hitter, a horrible defensive third baseman who should be at first base, and will likely make more than $5 million in 2010 via arbitration.
If anything he’s one of the guys Florida should specifically be looking to trade, because he’s expensive without being close to an elite player and has only one season left before free agency. Cantu tallied 100 RBIs this year, but his .289/.345/.443 line and 16 homers in 643 plate appearances were hardly special for a first baseman (or terrible defensive third baseman) and he’s a career .278/.323/.456 hitter. For comparison, the average MLB first baseman hit .277/.363/.483 this year.
Cantu would be a decent pickup for a contending team that has money to burn and just needs one more solid bat to plug into a strong lineup, but for a low-payroll team that is constantly forced to juggle players he makes little sense. They could get 90 percent of the production at 10 percent of the cost, add a couple prospects, and use the money saved to actually retain some truly elite players.

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.