Sports Illustrated polls major leaguers about a number of things throughout the year. Or else it polls them once and then releases the results in drips and drabs throughout the year. Today’s drip/drab: “Baseball’s Meanest Players.”
Problem: it doesn’t really list a criteria. Which matters here, because “meanest” could be the most personally unpleasant. It could also have some mix of hard-nosed competitiveness to it, which is at least in part admirable. Of course, since they have A.J. Pierzynski number one — and since he’s often talked about like he’s a grade-A jerk — I tend to think it leans more toward the former
Anyway, here’s the post. Sadly, it is a slide show. For those of you with the good sense to stay away from web slides shows, I’ll tell you that Chase Utley is number two, followed by Milton Bradley, Carlos Zambrano and Vicente Padilla.
OK, wait a minute. Now I’m certain that it’s just a list of jerks, because those last three are universally despised. Which makes me wonder how Utley makes that list, because you rarely hear him talked about in the same way those other guys are.
A-Rod, Chris Carpenter and … wait for it … Albert Pujols come next. I apologize Brewers fans. Seems that you’re not the only ones on the planet who think Pujols is a jerk. Two-hundred and fifteen major league baseball players agree. Of course, don’t get too smug because he’s followed on the list by Nyjer Morgan. And yes, there are Red Sox, another Yankee and another Brewer in the top 15.
No Braves of course. Everyone loves Braves.
The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.
Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.
The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.
In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.