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Major League Baseball News & Notes, Fiers Death Threats, Arbitration Winners and Losers Lead The Way

February 21, 2020

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Photo: Dodger Nation

Former Houston Astros pitcher Mike Fiers says he has received death threats after he exposed Astros’s 2017 sign-stealing scheme.

“Whatever, I don’t care. I’ve dealt with a lot of death threats before. It’s just another thing on my plate,” the Oakland Athletics pitcher told the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday.

Houston Astros owner Jim Crane has had a less-than-ideal offseason. After the team was found to have used electronics to steal opponents’ signs during their 2017 championship season, Crane has done almost nothing right in the effort to rehabilitate the organization’s public image amid all the fallout.

That might never have even been much of a priority in his eyes anyway, as Crane clearly thought the problem would take care of itself in short order. According to a report from Bob Klapisch of the New York Times, when Crane was warned about the oncoming backlash for his club’s actions, he disregarded it, claiming that the situation would “blow over by Spring Training.”

Alex Bregman is right at the center of the Houston Astros cheating scandal. While 2017 was his first full season in the big leagues, he was actually already a seasoned sign stealer well before Houston developed its Codebreaker system. At 12-years old, Bregman went on the road with the New Mexico Lobos baseball team as a bat boy and quickly showed a knack for figuring out what pitch was coming. This comes from a Bleacher Report profile from almost exactly a year ago:

“‘I was a little cocky piece of shit as a kid who’d tell them I’m gonna be in the big leagues, and they’re like, ‘Yeah, all right, kid,” Bregman says. It gave him a taste of college baseball.

After hearing former MLB star David Ortiz call Oakland Athletics pitcher Mike Fiers a “snitch” for blowing the whistle on the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal, Jose Canseco is now stepping in and coming to Fiers’ defense.

Canseco, a six-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion, tweeted support for Fiers and his decision to alert MLB about the Astros’ cheating scheme in 2017. The 55-year-old also worked in a shot at Ortiz, hinting at Ortiz’s playing through the steroid era and his past positive test for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003.

The Orioles will face the New York Mets at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24 at Max Bishop Stadium. The game will be broadcast on flagship radio station WJZ-FM (105.7) and the Orioles Radio Network. The Orioles begin regular season play two days later at Camden Yards against the New York Yankees.

Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Archie Bradley won his arbitration case, he’ll be paid $4.1 million in the upcoming season. The amount for which he filed arbitration, according to MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert, the D-backs filed at $3.625 million. Per Spotrac, Bradley made $1.83 million last year, and 2020 his is second year of three arbitration years. He is eligible to become a free agent after that.

Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto has gone through MLB’s arbitration process for the final time, the All-Star catcher has grabbed his bat and took some swings at MLB’s ‘outdated’ system for deciding player contracts.

Realmuto, who filed for a $12.4 million salary for the 2020 season, learned on Thursday that the independent arbitration panel sided with the Phillies’ offer of $10 million for the upcoming season. Coming off an outstanding season that saw the 28-year-old win a Gold Glove Award and be named All-MLB First Team, Realmuto blasted the arbitration process for how it treats catchers.

Nolan Arenado arrived at Colorado Rockies spring training camp answering the same questions about a winter filled with trade rumors.

Arenado spoke through clenched teeth, in the hallway at the Rockies’ spring facility, answering questions about his disconnect with team management.

“I don’t hold grudges,” Arenado said after reporting to camp. “That’s not really me. I’m also here and have to be who I am and stand up for what I believe in.”

“I’m committed. I’m committed here. I’m here and ready to go out there and play hard. I’m not going to be a negative presence in that locker room.”

Let’s get one thing straight about Kris Bryant leading off and moving off third base to play in the outfield more this year: It doesn’t suddenly mean he won’t be traded at the July 31 trade deadline if the Cubs don’t get off to a strong enough start, although Bryant did say Thursday that manager David Ross “seems to think I’m going to be here.”

Consider that 17 players in the majors had .380-plus on-base percentages with .500-plus slugging percentages last year, and only five have career marks at that combined level, including Bryant.

The New York Yankees announced Thursday they have shut down Luis Severino with right forearm soreness, which understandably set off sirens. Team physician Christopher Ahmad could examine Severino at which point they will take the next step. As future Hall of Fame pitcher Curt Schilling noted on Twitter, “Anytime you hear forearm you have to think UCL,” which is what requires Tommy John surgery to repair.

The New York Yankees are outraged in one corner of their clubhouse, sympathetic in another. Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton became the latest to tee off on the Houston Astros, saying their 2017 World Series title should be vacated and accusing them of cheating through last year’s World Series.

While Stanton was voicing his contempt for the Astros organization, just across the room is Gerrit Cole, the Yankees’ new $324 million pitcher, who just so happened to have spent the past two seasons in Houston.

Cole says the Astros did not cheat in 2019 and doesn’t remember anything illicit in 2018, Stanton, Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres don’t believe a word from any current or former Astro.

Corey Seager showed up to Los Angeles Dodger camp and was asked this question, Do you think people have forgotten how good you are?

“I don’t know how to answer that question,” Seager says with a laugh. “Um, I don’t really know. I mean, I don’t think about that. I don’t know that I’ve ever thought about that. My place is just to go out, compete and perform. Do what you can.”

In his first two full big-league seasons (including his unanimous NL Rookie of the Year season in 2017), Seager won back-to-back Silver Slugger awards as the top offensive shortstop in the National League. He hit a combined .302 with an .867 OPS, 48 home runs and 73 doubles. In 2017, he was a Gold Glove finalist.

Atlanta Braves OF Ronald Acuna’s versatility an asset in handling Braves outfield depth. It’s hard to believe Acuna entering his third season. The No. 1 prospect was promoted in late April 2018 and has since captivated audiences with his power, speed and oozing charisma. The Braves have made the postseason in both seasons of Acuna’s career. He’s become one of the sport’s exciting, marketable stars.

In 2019, his first full season, Acuna left little on the table: The All-Star outfielder hit .280/.365/.518, generating a legitimate pursuit of 40-40 that fell just shy at 41 homers and 37 steals.

Former major league pitcher Mike Bolsinger amended his lawsuit against the Houston Astros to include Astros owner Jim Crane and baseball-operations staffer Derek Vigoa, according to documents filed in a Los Angeles court Thursday.

Bolsinger, 32, filed a civil suit Feb. 10 alleging the Astros had engaged in unfair business practices and negligence via a “duplicitous and tortious scheme of sign-stealing.” In Bolsinger’s last major league outing, on Aug. 4, 2017, the Astros scored four runs in a third of an inning against him while allegedly using their trash-can-banging system on 12 of the 29 pitches he threw.

Billy Corben could have another big baseball-themed documentary coming our way because the man behind “Screwball” is considering taking on the Houston Astros scandal.

“Screwball” was a massive success for Corben, he used child actors to tell the unbelievable story about Alex Rodriguez and MLB’s Biogenesis scandal.

Now, with MLB during another embarrassing controversy, Corben says he’s very intrigued about the possibility of a “Screwball 2.”

Don’t count out the Boston Red Sox for the 2020 season. Alex Verdugo shares many on-field traits with the popular Andrew Benintendi. Jose Peraza is just 25 and knocked 49 extra-base hits two years ago. Jonathan Lucroy once finished fourth in the National League Most Valuable Player balloting, and not even that long ago.

They also have a dozen or so no-name pitchers Chaim Bloom has acquired, among them Martin Perez, Josh Osich, Austin Brice, and Jeffrey Springs. The Tampa Bay Rays, during Bloom’s employ there, had an uncanny knack for finding competent pitching at great value. The post-Dave Dombrowski Red Sox sure could use some of that.

The Toronto Blue Jays will open their Grapefruit League season on Saturday against the New York Yankees and while there is still well over a month to go before opening day, the roster is already starting to take shape.

There are open competitions taking place in the infield, outfield, starting rotation and bullpen. However, Rowdy Tellez appears to be facing an uphill battle to head north at the end of spring. Assuming everyone stays healthy, Toronto will pick three players from the following group to make the team: infielder Joe Panik, outfielder Derek Fisher, outfielder Anthony Alford and Tellez as a first baseman/designated hitter.

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