Mark Townsend

  • Jose Canseco wants shot at CM Punk in UFC

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    Since it was annouced that Phil "CM Punk" Brooks had signed a multi-fight deal with UFC, fighters ranging from rookies to mixed martial arts legends have been coming out of the woodwork looking to be his first opponent.

    A few celebrities with fighting experience have joined that parade as well. Most notably. "Power Ranger" Jason David Frank, who has five professional fights under his belt, called out Brooks earlier this week.

    He wasn't the last though. Predictably, and perhaps even sadly, we can officially add the name of Jose Canseco to that growing list.

    I can beat the crap out of @cmpunk. I am ready @ufc

    Yeah, those definitely qualify as fighting words.

    BLS H/N: Fox Sports

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  • John Hart on retooling Braves: Not like I’m breaking up ’27 Yanks

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    New Atlanta Braves president John Hart has been around the block a few times.

    As the general manager of the Cleveland Indians throughout the entire 1990s and later the Texas Rangers from 2002-05, Hart has shown he's not afraid to take on a challenge head-on, and his track record with both clubs suggests he'll find a way to overcome it.

    His new challenge with the Braves is a little different though. Hart is taking over a team that topped 85 wins five years running before dropping to a disappointing 79-83 in 2014. They've tasted regular season success on a regular basis, but they also haven't won a playoff series since 2001, and now flaws are showing on an offense that finished near dead last in MLB, and in a starting rotation that thinned out even further with Ervin Santana leaving for Minnesota. 

    “Let’s be honest: This team finished 29th in offense,” Hart said. “It’s not like I’m breaking up the ’27 Yankees.”

    And to that we proclaim: Well played, Mr. Hart.

    He also recently inked Nick Markakis to a four-year, $44 million deal, which could prove more cost effective than extending Heyward would have.

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  • Larry Lucchino regrets how Red Sox handled Jon Lester talks

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    How are the Boston Red Sox feeling after losing the Jon Lester sweepstakes to Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs? Not very good, according to team president Larry Lucchino.

    Speaking at the team’s Christmas at Fenway event on Saturday, Lucchino was forthright and honest in sharing his disappointment with the team's efforts, stating that they "failed" in their pursuit and that he "had regrets" with how the process played out.

    From The Boston Herald: 

    “We didn’t succeed, so I don’t give us a very good grade,” Lucchino said. “We were trying, sincerely, to get him signed, and wanted him to come back here, but free agency is a special opportunity for a player, and it only comes up once or twice if you’re lucky in your career.

    It's a question we might be pondering right up until opening day. But hey, like Lucchino said, at least Jon Lester didn't end up in the American League. Which, actually, is probably his way of saying thank goodness the Yankees didn't dive into the fray. Oh, the regrets he'd have then.

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  • Chicago White Sox agree to three-year deal with Melky Cabrera

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    If it wasn't official before, it's official now: The Chicago White Sox mean business.

    After taking the Winter Meetings by storm, acquiring Jeff Samardzija in a six-player trade with the Oakland A's and signing free-agent reliever David Robertson to a massive four-year,  $46 million deal, general manager Rick Hahn has struck again, agreeing to a three-year deal with outfielder Melky Cabrera. 

    Bruce Levine of The Score 670 in Chicago was the first to report a deal was in place. Jesse Sanchez of later confirmed the money will land between $42-$43.5 million, which seems like a fair deal for both sides. It was believed Cabrera would seek out a fourth year in the $12-$13 million range, but the consolation here will be the opportunity to enter free agency again at age 33. 

    For what it's worth, the Mariners were also believed to be in on Cabrera, if not the favorite to land him before Saturday. So obviously the concerns they had doing business with Cruz  stemming from his suspension last offseason have completely disappeared. 

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  • New Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius was knighted in 2011

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    It turns out being chosen as the successor to Derek Jeter as shortstop of the New York Yankees is only the second greatest honor of Didi Gregorius' baseball career. During a conference call with the New York media on Friday, the slick fielding star from the Netherlands confirmed what many had suspected based on his Sir Didi Gregorius Twitter handle.

    He's officially been knighted.

    We're not kidding. It's not a reference to a nickname from his childhood. It's a real title Gregorius earned while representing his country in the 2011 IBAF Baseball World Cup. As Bryan Hoch of notes, the Netherlands won that tournament, and rather than rewarding the players with money, each member of the team was knighted.

    Sir Didi it is if we're being proper, though Gregorius says he's not too concerned about how people acknowledge him.

    "What does he have to do? Enjoy himself. Work hard. Play hard. He'll be just fine."

  • Report: Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang will be posted Monday

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    The free agent market for middle infielders should get a little more interesting next week. According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang will be posted on Monday by the Nexen Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), meaning all 30 teams will have an opportunity to bid for his services.

    CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported during the Winter Meetings that interest in Kang was going to be high once this news became official. The Oakland Athletics, San Francisco Giants and New York Mets were the teams Heyman mentioned specifically, though he expects the final list to be much longer. 

    What will be most interesting to see though is just how deep that interest runs. 

    At 27 years old, Kang is coming off an MVP season in the KBO. In 116 games, he hit .354/.457/.733 to go along with 39 home runs and 115 RBIs. Remarkable numbers, but the KBO is well known as an offensive league.

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  • Bryce Harper skips NatsFest as grievance hearing looms

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    Fans of the Washington Nationals were disappointed on Saturday when the team's biggest star, outfielder Bryce Harper, elected to skip the team's annual NatsFest fan festival.

    Harper, who's currently at odds with the team over a contract dispute, was welcomed by the team and expected to attend, but with his grievance scheduled to be heard on Tuesday he decided to avoid the scene altogether.

    From Nats Insider: 

    Harper, on the other hand, appears to have decided himself not to attend. (General manager) Mike Rizzo said he’s “disappointed” by that development, but acknowledged it’s due to Tuesday’s salary grievance hearing in New York. Earlier in the week, Rizzo was asked if he thought there was a chance the two sides could come to an agreement and avoid the hearing, and he suggested there was some hope of that. Today, I asked him the same question, and he gave a “no comment” response. Reading between the lines, sounds like Tuesday’s hearing is all but certain to take place.

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  • Former major leaguer Mark Gilbert approved as U.S. ambassador

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    The name Mark Gilbert may not be familiar to most baseball fans, but the former Chicago White Sox outfielder is primed to do something no other former player has done before.

    On Friday, the U.S. Senate voted to approve Gilbert's nomination to serve as a U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, which will make him the first major league veteran to serve in that capacity, according to State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf's research.

    Gilbert, who earned a finance degree from Florida State University, was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1978. He also spent time in the Cincinnati Reds' system before moving on to the White Sox, where he debuted under Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa in 1985.

    Gilbert played all of seven games, hitting .273 with three runs scored and three RBIs. The following season, he required knee surgery and elected to walk away from the game and move on to a career in finance. But that cup of coffee with Chicago moves Gilbert into a category of his own.

    ''I think if Mark walks into a clubhouse with his old teammates, I don't think they're going to call him 'Your Excellency,''' La Russa said then, laughing.

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  • LaTroy Hawkins to retire following 2015 season

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    Your browser does not support iframes. LaTroy Hawkins' 21st major league season will also be his last, the soon-to-be 42-year-old pitcher revealed Friday during an interview on MLB Network's Hot Stove talk show. 

    "Next Sunday, I'll be 42 and 2015 will be my last year playing professional baseball," Hawkins told Harold Reynolds and Fran Charles. "Hopefully not my last year of professional baseball, but it'll be my last year playing professional baseball."

    Hawkins, who served as the Colorado Rockies closer in 2014, will enter his final season with exactly 1,000 appearances under his belt. He became only the 16th pitcher in MLB history to reach that milestone on Sept. 27 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, which speaks to his remarkable durability and dependability over the years.

    Despite those struggles, it was obvious Hawkins had a major league caliber arm. He just needed to find a niche that best suited him. For the 2000 season, legendary manager Tom Kelly shifted Hawkins to the bullpen, and he never looked back. Each of his last 901 appearances have come in relief, and the majority of those have come as a closer or set-up man. 

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  • Brett Lawrie surprises young Blue Jays fan devastated by trade

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    Back on Nov. 28, the Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics were involved in a stunning trade that saw Brett Lawrie and three minor leaguers moved to the Oakland in exchange for All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson. The deal caught nearly everyone off guard, including many of Donaldson's now former A's teammates, who were understandably confused and annoyed that a team leader was moving on.

    However, as we learned soon after the deal, A's players weren't the only ones struggling to understand and accept it. No one took the trade harder than a 6-year-old Blue Jays fan named Amelia, who was nearly inconsolable after learning Brett Lawrie was leaving Toronto.

    Her father recorded her tearful reaction and posted it on YouTube, which we understand not everyone is comfortable with. But the video went viral anyway, and it caught the attention of Lawrie himself.

    To show his appreciation, while back home in British Columbia, which is also where Amelia and her family reside, Lawrie took time from a busy schedule on Friday to pay Amelia a surpise visit and say thank you.

    He even stuck around for lunch at Boston Pizza, which we're guessing was on him. 

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