Opinions mixed on Diamondbacks’ interest in Paul Konerko

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Last week Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com wrote that Arizona has made signing free agent Paul Konerko “an offseason priority” and it sounds like the Diamondbacks won’t exercise a $7.5 million option on their own first baseman, Adam LaRoche.

However, Nick Piecero of the Arizona Republic is skeptical about the Diamondbacks actually making a heavy push to sign Konerko regardless of LaRoche’s status, writing: “The feeling I’m getting from club sources is that it probably won’t happen.”

Here’s more from Piecoro:

The biggest reason? Money. Konerko’s coming off a monster year and even if he were to take a hometown discount, Diamondbacks people still aren’t certain he would be affordable enough to fit into their budget. At least not with holes in the bullpen, rotation, bench and left field that will need to be addressed, as well.

Some wonder if he can play a full season at first base. He’ll be 35 next year and this season played 125 games at first and 23 games as the designated hitter. Plus, it sounds like the Diamondbacks will put a priority on defensive ability when it comes to first base, not a strong suit of Konerko’s. Anyway, I’m sure the Diamondbacks will talk with him, but unless he really wants to play here, I doubt it ends up happening.

It seems unlikely that the rebuilding, usually budget-conscious Diamondbacks would break the bank on a 35-year-old first baseman, and if signing Konerko won’t require breaking the bank then the White Sox will likely make a very strong effort to keep him.

Two great Mariano Rivera stories

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In addition to getting unanimous support from Hall of Fame voters, Mariano Rivera’s election is getting universal praise from fans and the baseball community. I mean, at least it seems so. If you see someone out there in the wild really mad that Rivera was elected, please, let me know. But don’t approach such people. They’re probably dangerously imbalanced and might cause harm to you.

From what we’ve seen, anyway, there is no one who doesn’t love Rivera and his election. That love has come out in the form of anecdotes people are sharing this morning. I’ve seen two that made me particularly happy. One “ha ha” happy, the other “aww” happy.

The “ha ha” comes from Michael Young, who shared the ballot with Rivera this year and whose Rangers actually beat Rivera’s Yankees in the 2010 ALCS. Not that they had much success against Mo:

Now the “aww.” It comes from Danny Burawa, who had a few major league cups of coffee after coming up in the Yankees system. From his Instagram last night:

In 2012, in the middle of my first big league spring training, I tore my oblique during a game (I wound up missing the whole season). First cuts hadn’t been made and the Yankees let me stick around to rehab with the big leaguers for a few days. The next day, after finishing my rehab, I returned to the locker room which was totally empty. I’m sitting at my locker getting ready to go home when in walks Mariano Rivera. Considering I was a nobody A-baller, I kept my eyes down on my feet and minded my own business. Next thing I know, he’s in the chair next to me, telling me his story, about failing as a starter, about an injury he had when he was younger, about how the setbacks we think are fatal usually end up as speed bumps on a longer, grander road. This is the greatest of all time, taking the time to cheer up a nobody, for no other reason than he thought it was the right thing to do. Great pitcher, greater human, congratulations Mo!

People use that “great player, better person” construction a lot. I often roll my eyes when I hear it because it’s pretty subjective and, I suspect, the “better person” part can’t be vouched for outside the subject’s friend or peer group. Doesn’t sound that way with Rivera, though. He simply sounds like a prince of a guy.