Two reports which, if there are some teeth to them and someone acts on them, could really get the offseason rolling in a hurry: The Seattle Mariners are reportedly interested in both Hanley Ramirez and Victor Martinez.
Ken Rosenthal reports that Martinez is believed to be the Mariners top priority this winter. Rosenthal also reported that the M’s were interested in Ramirez, but Bob Nightengale of USA Today goes farther, saying that the Mariners are “aggressively pursuing” him.
Martinez is coming off a career year and is 35-years-old, seeking a four-year deal. Ramirez will likely cost $100 million or more and has become a defensive liability at shortstop. So, yes, both of those guys present some risk. However, Ramirez has shown a willingness to play elsewhere — third base seems like a natural fit — and given how close Seattle came to a playoff spot in 2014 and that they have a still-in-his-prime Robinson Cano, the team is certainly in win-now mode.
Plug in Martinez’s and Ramirez’s bats next to Cano and Kyle Seager in the lineup, endure Ramirez at shortstop for a while and worry about the defense down the road (or move Ramirez to DH eventually) and the M’s could be really, really interesting. Expensive and carrying high expectations to be sure, but certainly interesting.
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.