Most sports team billboards are pretty boring fare. Action shots of players, a phone number for the season ticket line, and similar things like that are pretty much staples. The Kansas City Royals have gone above and beyond with their concept, though.
No, the Royals bring us Salvador Perez, in his self-appointed role as chief Gatorade cooler dumper, dousing the entire city via billboard.
— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) February 1, 2016
Now that’s cool, I have to admit, and very creative. It’s a bit simplistic otherwise, but it’s not like the Royals need to give fans a ton of incentive to buy tickets. They’re the World Series champions, and if they need further incentive, maybe they can enlist Jonny Gomes to make some sales.
- Kansas City Royals
Minnesota Twins general manager Terry Ryan confirmed what we already knew: Joe Mauer’s catching days are over.
The one-time All Star at the position returning to the backstop would simply be too risky from a health perspective, Ryan said.
“If we would ever get any OK from a physician, we would consider it,” Ryan said Saturday during the team’s fan forum, via Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “Unfortunately, there isn’t a physician, especially concussion experts, that could trust he’s not going to take another bop in the head on a foul tip or a collision at the plate, although the collisions are pretty much a foregone conclusion nowadays.
“If he took the wrong type of foul tip off that mask and all of a sudden he got knocked silly, I couldn’t forgive myself,” Ryan continued. “So he’s going to be a first baseman. I think if Joe could have stayed behind the plate he would have been a hall-of-fame candidate. He was excellent back there. Unfortunately it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Mauer hasn’t caught since 2013, and his offensive numbers have declined since his move to first full time, posting a .270/.348/.376 triple slash over the last two seasons. He’s been booed by Twins fans and criticized by his own grandfather, and moreover, he’s still owed $23 million per year over the next three seasons.
- Joe Mauer
The Dodgers held their annual FanFest event Saturday at Dodger Stadium, and Puig was one of the topics of conversation. Team president Andrew Friedman told the press that the Cuban outfielder “looks great.”
“He looks great,” Friedman said via the LA Times’ Andy McCoullough. “He’s worked extremely hard, both in Miami and in L.A. It was never a weight issue, in the classic sense. It was more about just how big and just how strong he had gotten.”
Those who have followed Puig’s social media accounts won’t be surprised by this development. The outfielder has looked great doing his training.
Me he dado cuenta que el día a día es la mejor ayuda para poder triunfar en esta vida entonces aquí estoy trabajando y Dando lo mejor de mí para poder ser mejor cada día y poder ayudar a mi equipo en la nueva temporada gracias señor por darme la fuerza y la esperanza de comenzar un año nuevo AMEN I have learned that the day-to-day is the best help to be able to succeed in life, so I'm working and giving it my best, to be better every day and to be able to help my team in the new season. Thanks God, for giving me the strength and the hope to begin a new year Amen merry Christmas
A video posted by @yasielpuig (@yasielpuig) on
The LA Times’ Dylan Hernandez also says Puig is down to seven percent body fat, which is an impressive mark.
Yasiel Puig recently measured at 7% body fat, person close to him said. Was at 11% last year.
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) January 30, 2016
Puig reportedly has lost about 15 pounds from last season and is down to 240. The issue wasn’t that Puig was overweight so much as he had put on too much bulk and mass for the Dodgers’ taste. Now he has a body they believe will be better equipped to play around 150 games during the MLB season.
Puig enters the 2016 season with a new manager, which should improve his mindset. Dave Roberts and the Dodgers want to give Puig a fresh start, which will be a massive change from how things were between the outfielder and Don Mattingly last year.
- Yasiel Puig
Desperate for an upgrade at the middle infield positions, the Arizona Diamondbacks appear to have found their man.
Shortstop Jean Segura was acquired by the D-Backs along with minor-league pitcher Tyler Wagner from the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday in exchange for second baseman Aaron Hill, righthander Chase Anderson, and shortstop prospect Isan Diaz, per Keith Law of ESPN.
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) January 30, 2016
Segura is a bit of a reclamation project, having batted .257/.281/.336 with with six home runs and 50 RBIs in 2015. But he’s one of the better defenders at short (despite an anomalously bad year with the glove last season), a stellar contact hitter, and possesses 30+ stolen base upside. Segura showcased glimpses of all of these attributes in his breakout rookie season in 2013. He also has experience at second base and could help plug a lot of holes for Arizona next year.
The Diamondbacks were said to be trying to trade the 34-year-old Hill earlier this week, and now he goes to a situation in Milwaukee where he can provide seasoned leadership to a young, rebuilding roster. The departure of Segura at short also opens up a spot for exciting youngster Orlando Arcia further down the road as the Brewers appear to be fully committed to the future.
The farm system of Arizona, meanwhile, gets even more desolate with this trade, especially since they had to forfeit a draft pick as compensation for signing Zack Greinke. But general manager Dave Stewart appears to be moving into win-now mode, and if Segura pans out, he could go a long way towards helping them achieve that goal.
Image Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
He may be 55 years old now, but Fernando Valenzuela is still proving himself to be a national treasure.
The legendary Dodgers pitcher made an appearance at the Dodgers FanFest event on Saturday, taking the stage and throwing some shade at righthander Zack Greinke for leaving the team over the winter, per Dodgers Nation.
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) January 30, 2016
Fernando on Greinke: "a better pitcher wouldn't leave." #DodgersFF
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) January 30, 2016
After three seasons in a Dodgers’ uniform, Greinke signed a six-year, $206.5 million deal with the Diamondbacks in December, despite LA’s attempts to convince the three-time All-Star to re-sign.
Greinke was about as good as they come in 2015, going 19-3 with 200 strikeouts and a league-leading 1.66 ERA. He also finished second in NL Cy Young Award voting and won his second career Gold Glove Award.
But Valenzuela, who was a Dodger the first 11 years of his MLB career, clearly takes a lot of pride in being a part of the organization (he has since returned to the team as their Spanish-language color commentator since 2003). So it’s easy to see why he doesn’t have a lot of respect for those who don’t feel the same way.
It’s too bad, really. Greinkemania was almost a thing.
The street that takes fans up through the Dodger Stadium parking gates is currently called Elysian Park Avenue, but some in the city are pressing to rename the street Vin Scully Avenue.
“There’s no better way to recognize such an iconic Dodger as Hall of Famer Vin Scully than naming a street after him,” Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten said via Dodger Insider Jon Weisman. “We appreciate Gil Cedillo and city officials bringing this to the forefront, and we look forward to the day when everyone can drive on Vin Scully Avenue when they enter Dodger Stadium.”
A vote at City Hall is scheduled Friday to propose the renaming of Elysian Park Avenue. Many team representatives will stop by as part of their “Dodgers Love L.A. Tour.”
Scully, 88, has been the voice of the Dodgers since 1950. The press box inside Dodger Stadium is named after him.
- Vin Scully
Fresh off their first playoff berth since 2005, the Houston Astros are looking to keep their momentum going.
On Thursday, the team fortified their starting rotation by signing free agent righthander Doug Fister to a one-year deal worth $7 million, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The agreement also comes with up to $12 million in incentives.
Source: Fister gets 1-year, $7M deal from Astros. Deal can max out at $12M if performance bonuses are reached.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) January 28, 2016
Fister, 31, is coming off a down year with the Nationals in 2015 where he went 5-7 with a 4.19 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 15 starts (which could help explain how the Astros got him for such a steal). But with great command and deceptive movement on his off-speed pitches, he was one of the better under-the-radar starters the last few seasons before that, placing eighth in NL Cy Young voting in 2014.
Elbow issues have been a concern for Fister in recent years. But such a low-risk signing to complement an already-daunting rotation headlined by reigning AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, and Lance McCullers is a great move by Houston. They are setting themselves up to be a handful out in the AL West once again next season.
Image Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports