The St. Paul Saints have never been afraid to court controversy when it comes to promotions. They’ve definitely stepped it up a bit with this one, as they’ll be hosting “A Night of Unbelievable Fun” and renaming themselves the St. Paul Aints on Aug. 10.
The night will be sponsored by the Minnesota Atheists, with the president of the American Atheists throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
“I think our message here and our brand of entertainment has always been one that’s been inclusive,” Saints GM Derek Sharrer told FOX Sports North. “When we were approached by the Minnesota Atheists, we felt like it was within our nature to be inclusive and certainly work with them to provide them the opportunity to provide their message in the same way that we have worked with hundreds and hundreds of faith-based groups over our 20 years here in St. Paul.”
No word on what else the Aints have planned for the night, but I’ll be disappointed if some fans aren’t invited on to the diamond for infidel practice.
The Padres may have some interest in acquiring Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, according to a recent report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It seems unlikely that the team would deal their starting third baseman with J.P. Crawford (fractured left hand) sidelined through July; to that end, however, they signed infielder Danny Espinosa as minor league depth on Friday and have reportedly been eying the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, among other veteran options.
Franco, 25, entered Sunday batting .255/.297/.425 with nine home runs and a .721 OPS in 229 plate appearances this season. While he has yet to live up to the .280+ average, 1.9+ fWAR he posted during his rookie campaign, he’s been a solid 20+ home run producer over the last few years and shown some stability at the hot corner. He’s also under team control for the next three years and could provide some much-needed insurance behind the Padres’ current third base option, 27-year-old Christian Villanueva.
Rosenthal notes that the Phillies could strike a deal for one of San Diego’s relievers, though no one specific has been connected to the team yet — and the club probably wouldn’t be able to finesse a one-for-one deal given the quality of the Padres’ pitchers. The Phillies’ bullpen has looked downright abysmal over the last month, placing 11th-worst in the league with a collective 5.34 ERA and 0.3 fWAR. Their failure to procure a viable reliever beyond Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos lends a certain urgency to any potential deal they make over the next few weeks, though the official trade deadline is still over a month away.