Take a left on Matt Stairs Way

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Thanks to the curly mullet, the swing-from-his-heels approach and the big postseason homer in Philly last year, Matt Stairs would be awesome even if he didn’t have a street named after him.  Now, however, he has a street named after him:

On Saturday, the free-agent rightfielder, who played for the
Phillies the past two seasons, had a street named after him in his
hometown of Fredericton in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. And not just any street. The road that runs alongside Royal Field Park – the place Stairs first played professionally – has been renamed Matt Stairs Way.

“Royals Field . . . that’s one of the most special ones I’ve ever
been in,” Stairs told the Canadian Broadcasting Centre News. “One, it’s
in my hometown. Two, it’s where I was scouted, where I was signed. It’s
a home inside of a home city. And now, just to have a street named
around it is a great honor.”

I can’t think of a player I like more than Stairs. He’s all kinds of awesome packed into such an unassuming package. Stairs is one of the great “coulda beens” in baseball history. Sometimes I wonder what kind of damage Stairs would have done to major league pitching had the Expos not decided to try and make a second baseman out of him, which basically delayed his big league career until he was 29. If someone had stuck the guy at first or DH at age 23 or 24 and who knows what he would have done?

Sadly, it doesn’t look like the Phillies are interested in bringing him back for 2010. Not sure if anyone else will either (we’ll probably have to wait until the last possible minute before spring training to find out).  But even if he never plays another inning, we’ll always have our memories of the guy, and Stairs will always have his street.

Angels’ Andrelton Simmons opts out of final 5 games

Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shortstop Andrelton Simmons has opted out of the remainder of the Los Angeles Angels’ season.

The Angels announced the four-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop’s decision Tuesday before they faced the San Diego Padres.

Los Angeles (24-31) is still technically in the playoff race with five games left in the regular season, and Simmons clearly caught the Angels by surprise, although the club said it respected his decision.

The 31-year-old Simmons, who can be a free agent this winter, is finishing his fifth year with the Angels. After spraining his ankle in late July and missing 22 games, Simmons is currently batting .297 with 10 RBIs while playing his usual stellar defense, albeit with four errors in 30 games.

“At this time, I feel this is the best decision for me and my family,” Simmons said in a statement. “We don’t know what the future holds, but we would like to sincerely thank the Angels organization and Angels fans for welcoming and making us feel at home.”

Manager Joe Maddon acknowledged he was caught by surprise when general manager Billy Eppler told him about Simmons’ decision Monday night after Simmons went 1 for 4 with an RBI single in the Angels’ home finale. Maddon texted Simmons, but hadn’t heard back by Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve really enjoyed this guy a lot,” Maddon said. “I’m a big fan. This guy is a good baseball player, and I’ve enjoyed the conversations, too. It’s just unfortunate. He’s really a big part of what we’re doing right now.”

Simmons is a favorite of Angels fans for his defensive wizardry, and owner Arte Moreno has described Simmons as perhaps his favorite player to watch on the roster. Simmons has batted .281 with 36 homers and 281 RBIs during his five seasons with Los Angeles, and he won the Gold Glove in 2017 and 2018.

“He’s a thinking kind of a player, and I’ve enjoyed him a lot,” Maddon said.

Simmons will be a free agent this winter, and the Angels have an obvious replacement for him in David Fletcher, who has a .374 on-base percentage while regularly hitting leadoff for the Angels during his breakout major league season. Fletcher has been playing second base since Simmons’ return from injury.

But the Angels haven’t publicly closed the door on Simmons’ return, and he could be given a qualifying offer. Maddon has repeatedly said he would like Simmons to return in 2021 if possible.

The Angels haven’t had a winning season during Simmons’ five years in Anaheim, although Simmons said last week he wasn’t discouraged by the lack of team success. Simmons played his first four major league seasons in Atlanta, and he hasn’t appeared in the postseason since 2013.

Simmons also said he hadn’t been involved in any recent contract talks with the Angels, but he had enjoyed playing for the club. When asked if he wanted to return to the Halos, Simmons said he would have to “plead the fifth.”