Twins demote starting center fielder Aaron Hicks to Double-A

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For the second straight season Aaron Hicks was the Twins’ Opening Day center fielder only to hit terribly and lose the job. This time he’s been demoted to Double-A, where he played in 2012 before the Twins misguidedly decided that he was ready to make the jump to the big leagues as a 23-year-old.

Hicks has actually been on the MLB disabled list with shoulder problems, but if not for the injury he’d probably have been demoted to the minors a couple weeks ago. He’s hit just .194 through 129 career games in the majors.

Not so long ago Hicks was one of the best outfield prospects in baseball and he’s still just 24 years old, but he’s a mess right now. Last month he gave up switch-hitting, which he’d done all his life, and then less than a month later he decided to take it back up again. Hicks has been terrible, but Minnesota’s handling of Hicks has also been highly questionable throughout.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?