Craig Kimbrel
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Report: Brewers talks with Craig Kimbrel ‘pretty serious’

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Last night it was reported that the Brewers have been in discussions with free-agent reliever Craig Kimbrel. A few minutes ago Jon Heyman reported that the talks are “pretty serious.” No word if this rumor comes from his best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend who heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with a girl who saw Kimbrel on the phone with David Stearns at 31 Flavors last night.

Assuming it’s legit — and it sounds it, as it was initially reported by Ken Rosenthal and Robert Murray who tend to get these things right — it’d be a pretty major coup for the Brewers should the talks bear fruit. They already have one of the best bullpens in baseball, featuring All-Stars Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel, and Josh Hader. This year’s addition of Alex Claudio gives them more depth. Putting Kimbrel into that mix would put some serious pressure on Brewers’ opponents to not fall behind early, that’s for sure.

Kimbrel experienced some control issues last year but remained one of the most dominant relievers in the game, registering 42 saves with a 2.74 ERA, 4.5 BB/9, and 13.9 SO/9 through 62.1 innings in 2018.

That he has not signed before now is perceived to be a function of his steep asking price. With Opening Day looming, however, it’s quite possible that has come down considerably and that Brewers are poised to sign an ace reliever for a song.

Straight-away center field will be 385 feet at London Stadium

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Marley Rivera of ESPN has a story about some of the on-field and in-game entertainment, as well as some aspects of the field conditions, for this weekend’s London Series.

The fun stuff: a mascot race, not unlike the Sausage Race at Miller Park or the President’s race at Nationals Park. The mascots for London: Winston Churchill, Freddie Mercury, Henry VIII and the Loch Ness Monster. I suppose that’s OK but, frankly, I’d go with Roger Bannister, Shakespeare, Charles Darwin and Guy Fawkes. Of course no one asks me these things.

There will also be a “Beat the Streak”-style race which had better use the theme to “Chariots of Fire” or else what the heck are we even doing here.

They’ve also taught ushers and various volunteers who will be on-site to sing “Take me out to the ballgame,” which is a pretty good idea given how important that is to baseball. As a cultural exchange, I think some major league team should start using “Vindaloo” by Fat Les during the seventh inning stretch here. It’s a banger. It also seems to capture England a bit more accurately than, say, “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown.”

That’s all good fun I suppose. But here’s some stuff that actually affects the game:

The end result will have some interesting dimensions. The field will be 330 feet down each foul line, and it will have a distance of 385 feet to center field, which will feature a 16-foot wall. Cook also said it would have an expanded, “Oakland-like” foul territory, referencing the Athletics’ Oakland Coliseum expanse.

Those dimensions are unavoidable given that the square peg that is a baseball field is being shoved into the round hole that is a soccer stadium. As Murray Cook, MLB’s senior field coordinator tells Rivera, that sort of thing, while perhaps less than ideal, is at least in keeping with baseball’s strong tradition of irregular field conditions. It will, however, be one of the shortest dead center distances in baseball history.

Oh, and then there’s this:

Protective netting was also an important issue addressed when building the ballpark, with Cook stressing that his team has implemented netting that “is the largest you’ll ever see in any major league ballpark.”

[Craig makes a mental note to bookmark this for the next time MLB says it won’t mandate extended netting in the U.S. because doing so is too difficult]