Mike Scioscia gets defensive about the Mike Napoli trade

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Mike Napoli continuing his spectacular season in the playoffs has led to the Angels being criticized for trading him in a deal for Vernon Wells and manager Mike Scioscia being criticized for never being the biggest Napoli fan.

Scioscia got defensive when that topic was raised during a radio interview yesterday, saying:

We did not butt heads, that’s absolutely false. Mike had to work on stuff that didn’t come naturally to him, more so than other catchers who maybe do it more naturally. … I think we have to wait a couple years first. Right now, it’s obvious. Mike Napoli is having an incredible run with Texas. He was certainly capable of doing what he did and we valued him. The thing that cracks me up is when people say we didn’t think he was any good. We played him a lot more than Texas has this year over his career with us.

Napoli, of course, had a much different take on his time with Scioscia and the Angels, telling the Dallas Morning News earlier this season:

I always felt like I was looking over my shoulder to see if I was doing things right. I had “bad hands.” I was so worried about my setup and the mechanics all the time. I learned a lot. I learned a lot of what I do there, but playing there just wasn’t much fun.

Scioscia often preferred Jeff Mathis’ inept bat and good glove over Napoli’s slugging, and while some of what the manager says about Napoli’s time with the Angels is surely true there’s no getting around that fact. Now that the Angels have parted ways with general manager Tony Reagins there are tons of reports about how Scioscia has really been running things for years and the perception–right or wrong–that he helped push Napoli out of town isn’t going away any time soon.

Phillies, RHP Taijuan Walker reportedly agree to 4-year deal

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO – The active Philadelphia Phillies added Taijuan Walker to their rotation on Tuesday, agreeing to a $72 million, four-year contract with the right-hander.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the move to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

It was the second major free-agent score for the Phillies at the winter meetings after they reeled in shortstop Trea Turner on Monday with a $300 million, 11-year deal. Walker and Turner join a Phillies team that made it to the World Series this year before losing to the Houston Astros.

The 30-year-old Walker went 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts this season for the New York Mets, one of Philadelphia’s biggest NL East rivals. He slots into a rotation fronted by Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

The Phillies recently lost pitcher Zach Eflin in free agency to Tampa Bay.

Asked about the market for Walker earlier in the day, agent Scott Boras said it was robust.

“As you can see in the marketplace, there’s a whole number of pitchers that are throwing 60 and 70 innings that have been pursued, probably with the exception of (Jacob) deGrom, at the lower end of threshold around $13-15 million a year because the demand for quality pitching is so great,” Boras said.

“So, Tai … is one of the younger ones, one of the more durable ones and we expect him to be pursued greatly as his market unfolds.”

Walker was selected by Seattle with the No. 43 pick in the 2010 amateur draft. He made his big league debut with the Mariners in 2013.

Walker signed with New York as a free agent in February 2021. He turned down a $7.5 million player option last month in favor of a $3 million buyout, making his deal worth $17 million over two seasons.

The 6-foot-4 Walker made the All-Star team for the first time in 2021, putting together a fast start before fading to a 7-11 record with a 4.47 ERA in 30 games, 29 starts.