Matt Stairs sheds 40 pounds, makes Padres

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Officially the Padres haven’t announced their Opening Day roster yet, but MLB.com’s Lyle Spencer reports that Matt Stairs has made the team as a left-handed bench bat.
Stairs is one of my favorite players in part because he takes every swing like he’s trying to murder the baseball, in part because he’s fearlessly sported a curly mullet for most his career, and in part because I’m amused by a 42-year-old who loses 40 pounds on an offseason diet after playing 17 years as a fat guy.
Stairs has had a remarkable career given that he didn’t play regularly in the majors until age 29. He homered 27, 26, and 38 times in his first three full seasons, knocking in 100 runs in 1998 and 1999, and has an .858 lifetime OPS with 30 homers per 550 at-bats against right-handed pitching.
And if Stairs can homer for the Padres, he’ll become the first player in baseball history to go deep for 12 different teams. He’s also one pinch-hit homer away from tying Cliff Johnson’s all-time record of 20.

Twins to retire Joe Mauer’s No. 7

AP Photo/Jim Mone
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Twins senior director of communications Dustin Morse announced that the Twins will honor former C/1B Joe Mauer by retiring his uniform number 7. Mauer announced his retirement from baseball on November 9.

Mauer will join Harmon Killebrew (No. 3), Tony Oliva (No. 6), Tom Kelly (No. 10), Kent Hrbek (No. 14), Rod Carew (No. 29), Kirby Pucket (No. 34), and Bert Blyleven (No. 28) as Twins to have their numbers retired.

Mauer, 35, spent 15 seasons in the majors, all with the Twins. He posted a career .306/.388/.439 triple-slash line with 143 home runs and 923 RBI. He won the AL MVP Award in 2009, won the batting title three times, earned three Gold Gloves and five Silver Sluggers, and made the AL All-Star team six times. Sadly, his career was limited due to injuries, including a concussion that caused him to move from catcher to first base.

Five years from now, Mauer will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot. There will certainly be some arguments for and against his candidacy. He retired with 55.1 career Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference, which definitely puts him in the conversation. But, as always, there’s never a consensus.