Mike Oz

  • On Thanksgiving, 20 baseball things we're thankful for in 2014

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 7 hrs ago

    With Thanksgiving upon us, we here at Big League Stew are taking a step back to reflect upon another remarkable season in baseball while showing appreciation for all of the players, personalities, performances and moments that make us thankful for its existence. It's a list that, if allowed, we could keep writing all the way until Christmas. But we've narrowed it down to our top 20.

    Of course, you're free to share what you're thankful for in baseball as well. Hit us up in the comments or on Twitter.

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    The greatness of Clayton Kershaw At 25, Kershaw added a third Cy Young award and an almost perfect no-hitter to his résumé. Capable of making history every time he takes the baseball, we should all be thankful we're witnessing the ascension of an all-time great whose prime seasons may still be ahead of him. (Mark Townsend)

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    Yoenis Cespedes' arm One word: Daaaaaaaaaaaaamn. Still amazing all these months later. (MO)

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  • Which MLB player do you want to eat Thanksgiving dinner with?

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 17 hrs ago

    Chances are, Thanksgiving dinner is already on your mind. You might be preparing to cook it, salivating over the prospect of it or traveling somewhere to eat it with friends or family.

    As The Stew prepares to take a breather for turkey time (don't worry, the NFL is here for you) we tossed out a question on Twitter that got some interesting answers: Which MLB player, past or present, would you want to eat Thanksgiving dinner with? 

    There's a lot to consider when answering: Are they cooking? Are you placing a premium on good company? Or being able to say, "Guess who I shared turkey with?" Or are you just thinking about the funniest pairing? Each of those is acceptable.  

    Here are our favorite reader responses to the query. As you can see, some people answered in earnest:

    @bigleaguestew Tug McGraw of the @Phillies, with whom I once had lunch. The most genuine, warm, funny guy I ever saw on a ball field.

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  • 12 MLB players who could be traded this winter

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 19 hrs ago

    'Tis the season to speculate about baseball roster moves. By nature, MLB's Hot Stove season is a fantasy mix-and-match game, where fans have fun dreaming up scenarios that would best benefit their team of choice.

    While we love to hear free-agent rumors, we might love trade gossip more. We know who the free agents are. But the players who could be traded? That's much more mysterious.

    These trades often come out of nowhere, like the deal that sent Jason Heyward to the St. Louis Cardinals. Other times, you hear a lot about potential trades before a team pulls the trigger.

    Consider this list the latter. These 12 players have been gossiped about to some extent the past two months, and their situations look ripe for a swap. Our list ranges from the high-priced (that's you, Cole Hamels) to potential bargains (Ian Kennedy, come on down).

    Click the photo at the top to start the slideshow.

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  • Red Sox introduce Pablo Sandoval, with plenty of pandas

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Pablo Sandoval put on a Boston Red Sox uniform Tuesday and was introduced to the media as Boston's new $95 million man.

    He sat there, next to Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, and said the things that players say at these types of press conferences: He was excited for a new challenge, he's looking forward to playing with David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, he loves Fenway Park.

    The most existential moment, however, came when Sandoval was asked about the panda. Panda — as inKung Fu Panda — is his nickname. Fans wore panda hats in San Francisco because they loved him so much. Leaving as a free agent doesn't mean a star has to divorce himself from a nickname, but Sandoval's answer was a bit peculiar.

    "Ben didn’t sign one guy,” Sandoval said. “It was a two-for-one deal. The panda is with me.”

    But Sandoval's right, the Panda is with him. And the Red Sox made sure we all knew it.

    They used the panda emoji on Twitter:

    It's official. 🐼

    The put up a panda poster in his locker:

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  • The Phillies are 'in no rush' to trade Cole Hamels

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Once again, Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels is one of the most intriguing names in trade talks.

    All around baseball, people have already matched up the pitching-thirsty Boston Red Sox as the best suitor for Hamels, though you have to figure no team would turn down his services. The Red Sox, though, have the biggest surplus of hitters. 

    Not so fast, says Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who's been sitting on his hands since last July's trade deadline. The Phillies didn't make any moves at the trade deadline, even though they seemed like a primer seller, with many well-known  Phillies swirling in trade rumors.

    As the rumors swirl again, especially about Hamels, Amaro told ESPN's Jayson Stark that his club isn't rushing into anything:

    "I'm in no rush to do it," Ruben Amaro Jr. told ESPN.com. "I have to do what's right for this organization."

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  • Joe DiMaggio honored in crossword puzzles for his birthday

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Joe DiMaggio, one of baseball's most beloved players ever, would have turned 100 on Tuesday were he alive. That fact wasn't lost on crossword-puzzle writers, as both the Los Angeles Times and New York Times featured DiMaggio-themed puzzles in their Tuesday editions.

    The answers weren't particularly hard if you're a baseball or DiMaggio fan — you had to know Joltin' Joe's nickname (the other one), how long his hit streak lasted, what position he played and the name of his most famous wife. 

    Here's the L.A. Times version, with just the DiMaggio-centric answers filled in:

    The clues were as such:

    Here's a solved version of the New York Times puzzle, as completed by crossword blogger Rex Parker, who also notes the DiMaggio-themed clues:

    BLS H/N: /r/baseball

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  • Mike Trout Q&A: His workouts, goals and what he's thankful for

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    If you thought Mike Trout would win the American League MVP, then spend his offseason slacking around, you're dead wrong. Trout, the 23-year-old Los Angeles Angels star, is already back in the gym getting ready for 2015. 

    Even in the days before Thanksgiving, when many of us have mentally checked out, Trout is up early, putting in work, trying to get faster and stronger for 2015.

    It should be noted his 2014 was pretty darn good: He won the AL MVP, the All-Star Game MVP, his Angels had the best record in baseball, they won the AL West and he went to the playoffs for the first time. He also signed a $144.5 million extension with the Angels before the season started. 

    That's a lot to be thankful for. Even with it all, Trout still speaks like a humble, quiet guy. He lives in his hometown of Millville, N.J., this time of year, eats Thanksgiving dinner at his parents' house and doesn't know where exactly he's going on his vacation in January. 

    MO: You're home in New Jersey, right? What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

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  • Phillies clubhouse hosts sleepover for children's hospital patients

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 2 days ago

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    Here's something you don't expect to hear about the Philadelphia Phillies: There was an infusion of youth in their clubhouse.

    But we're not talking about baseball players, rather patients from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia who attended a special sleepover inside the home team's clubhouse at Citizens Bank Ballpark. The clubhouse sleepover — a first of its kind for the Phillies — was sold as part of the team's Phantastic Auction in May.

    The kids got their own lockers, took batting practice, had a pillow fight with the Phillie Phanatic, ate pizza, watched a movie and signed their own one-day contract to join the Phillies. The offer came from Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., who can now say, no matter what else happens this offseason, that he made one great move.

    This was a win all around, especially by the anonymous donor who figured a group of kids who had spent too much time in a hospital might love a night in a big-league clubhouse.

  • Without Pablo Sandoval, what do the Giants do now?

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 2 days ago

    Even though the nearest San Francisco Giants fan might be crying into their panda hat at the moment, crushed by the news that free agent Pablo Sandoval has chosen to bolt for the Boston Red Sox, this is neither the end of the world for the Giants nor a surprising outcome.

    The deal is now solid, as multiple reports say Sandoval's agent has informed the Giants about his decision to join the Red Sox. He's expected to be introduced Tuesday in Boston.

    Giants fans, in fact, seemed ready to say goodbye to Sandoval at a few different points during 2014. He won their favor again with a very productive postseason, including a World Series in which he set a record for hits, thus the November free-agent frenzy. But three facts to consider: Sandoval hasn't hit .300 since 2011, hasn't driven in 80 runs in a season since 2009 and hasn't hit 20 homers since 2011.

    The point: Sandoval is replaceable. At least in terms of value.

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  • Barry Bonds says he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 2 days ago

    A new round of Hall of Fame balloting means a new round of baseball's annual debates. One that inspires a lot of passion on both sides: Should Barry Bonds be enshrined in Cooperstown?

    The numbers, of course, say yes. His 762 career homers are the most all time and his seven MVP awards are more than anyone else has. There's just that issue of performance-enhancing drugs. Bonds was never suspended by MLB for PED use and never tested positive. He's never admitted to knowingly using steroids either. But to most baseball fans, he's one of the faces on the steroid era.

    If you ask Bonds whether he's worthy of the Hall of Fame — as MLB.com's Barry Bloom did recently — he says yes. But he's totally biased.

    He sounds patient, though, telling MLB.com:

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