Willie Bloomquist is the Pavement of baseball players

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After that Madonna post I feel like I sort of need to come back quickly and re-establish some form of musical credibility. So, now I will tell you all about how great I think the Pet Shop Boys are …

Kidding!

I offer you a link (sorry, subscription only) to Baseball Prospectus in which Geoff Young uses the band Pavement — which I like a lot, I swear! — to explain why it is that people seem to have such a fascination with gritty, scrappy players like Willie Bloomquist and David Eckstein.

The upshot: psychological studies have found that stars whose gifts, such as they are, seem attainable evoke inspiration and love. In contrast, stars whose success seem unobtainable often leave observers feeling cold.

We like Willie Bloomquist and David Eckstein because they don’t seem all that different than us. We feel distant from Barry Bonds (or whoever) because there was some high-level genius going on there that we can’t quite grok.  Same goes for Pavement, who sometimes aren’t too concerned with, you know, musicianship, while it’s harder to warm up to a band full of virtuosos. Like, I dunno, Yngwie Malmsteen or Rush.

Now all we have to do is to forget two things:

1.  There are a lot of reasons to not like Barry Bonds, Yngwie Malmsteen and Rush separate and apart from their virtuosity; and

2. That, however normal and attainable they appear to us, Willie Bloomquist and Pavement actually have extremely developed skills that we could never, ever hope to replicate.

There. Now we can dislike them once again with a clear conscience.

Rays’ Díaz gets $24 million, three-year deal, avoids arbitration

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Tampa Bay Rays infielder Yandy Díaz agreed to a $24 million, three-year contract on Tuesday that avoided a salary arbitration hearing.

Díaz’s agreement could be worth $36 million over four seasons.

The 31-year old will receive $6 million this season, $8 million in 2024 and $10 million for 2025. The 2026 club is $12 million with no buyout. There is a $1 million assignment bonus that would be payable by receiving team.

Díaz has spent parts of six seasons in the majors with Cleveland (2017-18) and Tampa Bay (2019-22). He has a career average of .278 with 39 home runs and 198 RBIs.

Acquired by the Rays in a three-team trade on Dec. 13, 2018, Díaz hit .296 with nine homers and 57 RBIs in 137 games last season, He career highs with 71 runs, 140 hits, 33 doubles, and 78 walks.

Díaz was the third Rays’ arbitration-eligible player to reach a deal.

Reliever Pete Fairbanks agreed Friday to a $12 million, three-year contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons. The 29-year-old right-hander was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Left-hander Jeffrey Springs also agreed last week to a $31 million, four-year contract that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year-old began last season in the bullpen and transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, and outfielder Harold Ramírez.