Buster Olney reports that the Washington Nationals are “enthusiastic” about their chances of signing free agent first baseman Carlos Pena.
Interesting choice of words in that I don’t think as signing of Pena would bring much enthusiasm to Nats fans. Sure, he’s a more productive hitter than his [gulp] .196 average would suggest, but that’s faint praise. He needs to hit better to be able to carry first base, even on a last place team. There’s a chance that he could improve with a move to the National League, but at 33, improvement is by no means assured.
The interesting thing about this is that the guy Pena would replace — Adam Dunn — was derided by many because they saw only the strikeouts and didn’t appreciate that his great plate patience made him far more valuable than the average fan suspected. Pena would be an even more extreme case of that, with terrible contact hitting subbing in for Dunn’s K’s. Oh, and a good 10-12 fewer homers too.
Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.
The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.
The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.
In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.