Internet detective! Mets prospect bust “John” tells his story on Chelsea Peretti’s podcast

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I’m way too excited about this post, because it combines four of my favorite things: Baseball, podcasts, Chelsea Peretti, and snooping for information about people on the internet.

Chelsea Peretti is a great stand-up comedian, writer, and tweeter who just started her own podcast in which she takes calls from the audience. I was listening to the second episode this afternoon when about 12 minutes in a caller named “John” started talking about how he’s 24 years old and “blew a small fortune” of $210,000 after being drafted by the Mets as an 18-year-old.

Peretti asked: “And then what happened, you started sucking at baseball?”

“They thought I was a good baseball player,” our mystery man explained, adding that he was a pitcher before his “elbow blew out” and he spent most of the signing bonus on a truck and “buying sushi every night.”

That was more than enough information to discover our mystery man’s identity via the magic of the internet: John Holdzkom, a 6-foot-7 right-hander who was the Mets’ fourth-round pick in 2006 and signed for $210,000. He underwent Tommy John elbow surgery in 2009 and has yet to make it past high Single-A, throwing a total of 135 innings in seven seasons. He spent this season in the Reds’ farm system, but appeared in just six games and walked 13 batters in nine innings.

Holdzkom shared some interesting details about his arm problems and various off-field issues, showing a really good sense of humor about the whole thing. And he’s apparently headed to Australia to continue his career. You should definitely listen to their whole chat, if only so I feel less silly about spending time researching the identity of an anonymous podcast caller.

To experience my internet detective work unfolding in real time you can follow me on Twitter.

Yasmani Grandal signs a four-year, $73 million deal with the White Sox

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The first truly big free agent signing of the offseason has gone down: the Chicago White Sox just announced that they have signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal.

Grandal, 31, was the best catcher available in free agency. He is coming off a fine year with the Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he had to settle for a one-year pact in 2019. He hit .246/.380/.468 with 28 homers and 77 driven in. It was his fourth straight season with 20+ homers. While his catching has been criticized due to some high-profile mistakes in the postseason, the two-time All-Star once again proved himself to be one of the best pitch-framers in the game if not the best. Between the bat and the glove he has a claim to being one of the best all-around catchers in baseball.

The signing leaves open the question of what happens to James McCann, who was himself an All-Star this year. It’s not that hard a question, of course, as Grandal is a far superior catcher to McCann in every respect. The Sox could make McCann a backup. Alternatively, they could try to trade him to fill other holes on the roster.

The White Sox finished 72-89 in 2019 but are showing signs of coming out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. This signing pushes them a big step into that direction.