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Shohei Ohtani to sign with the Angels

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Japanese star Shohei Ohtani is going to sign with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The news was reported first by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, who tweeted out a statement from Nez Balelo, Ohtani’s agent. The statement reads as follows:

This morning, after a thorough, detailed process, Shohei Ohtani has decided to sign with the Los Angeles Angels. Shohei is humbled and flattered by all the time and effort that so many teams put into their presentations and sincerely thanks them for their professionalism. In the end, he felt a strong connection with the Angels and believes they can best help him reach his goals in Major League Baseball. I want to thank the clubs and everyone else for respecting our intent to make this very important process as private as possible. We were resolved to having a fair, methodical process. Teams clearly put in a lot of work, and we are grateful for that.

Ohtani is one of the best, youngest and most unique talents to ever come out of Japan. He’s only 23 but has already established himself as both an ace pitcher and a star slugger, with a 42-15 record with an ERA of 2.52 and a K/BB ratio of 624/200 in 543 innings while batting .286 with 48 home runs and 166 RBI in 1,140 plate appearances. He has made it clear that he wants to both pitch and hit in the majors, as he did in Japan.

The Angels have $2.315 million in international pool money to give Ohtani. That was the third largest pool, behind the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners. Seattle had, in particular, been seen as pushing hard for Ohtani and was among the first clubs to publicly state that they would accommodate his wishes to be a two-way player. That the Mariners not only lost out on Ohtani but lost out on him to a division rival that used to employ their current GM, Jerry Dipoto has to be a pretty bitter pill to swallow.

There has been less reported about the Angels plans for Ohtani, though given that they had less money to offer, you have to assume Ohtani liked what he heard about their plans for him. As it is, he clearly has a place in their starting rotation, which is currently manned by number one starter Garrett Richards, who only pitched 27 innings last year, and a host of other often-injured starters like Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney.

To the extent Ohtani gets at bats, they could come at the expense of either DH Albert Pujols, who was among the worst hitters in all of baseball last year, or first baseman C.J. Cron, who posted an OPS+ of only 99 last season. Ohtani could also see time backing up or subbing for corner outfielders Justin Upton and Kole Calhoun.

We’re likely to hear far more about the Angels plans for him in the coming days. In the meantime, welcome to America Shohei Ohtani.

Larry Walker to wear a Rockies cap on his Hall of Fame plaque

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I guess this came out the day he was elected but I missed it somehow: Larry Walker is going to have a Rockies cap on his Fall of Fame plaque.

While it was once solely the choice of the inductee, for the past couple of decades the Hall of Fame has had final say on the caps, though the request of the inductee is noted. This is done to prevent a situation in which a cap truly misrepresents history. This issue arose around the time Wade Boggs was inducted, as he reportedly had a deal with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to pick their cap on his plaque which, to say the least, would’ve been unrepresentative.

There have been some mildly controversial picks in the past, and some guys who would seem to have a clear choice have gone with blank caps to avoid upsetting the fan base of one of his other teams, but Walker’s doesn’t seem all that controversial to me.

Walker played ten years in Colorado to six years in Montreal and two years in St. Louis. His numbers in Colorado were substantial better than in Montreal. His MVP Award, most of his Gold Gloves, most of his All-Star appearances, and all of his black ink with the exception of the NL doubles title in 1994 came with the Rockies too. Walker requested the Rockies cap, noting correctly that he “did more damage” in a Rockies uniform than anyplace else. And, of course, that damage is what got him elected to the Hall of Fame.

Still, I imagine fans of the old Expos will take at least some issue here. Those folks tend to be pretty possessive of their team’s old stars. It’s understandable, I suppose, given that they’ve not gotten any new ones in a decade or two. Add in the fact that Walker played for the 1994 Expos team onto which people love to project things both reasonable and unreasonable, and you can expect that the Expos dead-enders might feel a bit slighted.

Welp, sorry. A Rockies cap is the right choice.  And that’s Walker’s cap will feature.