Rangers avoid arbitration with Mike Napoli at $9.4 million

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From Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors comes word that the Rangers avoided arbitration with catcher Mike Napoli on Saturday night by agreeing to a one-year, $9.4 million contract for 2012.

Napoli requested a salary of $11.5 million and was offered $8.3 million from the Texas front office when arbitration figures were filed last month. It took the two sides about three weeks to find a middle ground.

Napoli hit .320 with a 1.046 OPS, 30 homers and 75 RBI in 113 games last year for the Rangers. The 30-year-old is currently scheduled to become a free agent in the fall, along with D’Backs catcher Miguel Montero and Cardinals backstop Yadier Molina.

In-their-prime catchers never seem to hit the open market. The money could get wild.

Astros greeted with boos in first spring training game

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The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.

Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.

There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.

That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.

The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.

One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.

Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.

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