Mike Oz

  • Red Sox introduce Pablo Sandoval, with plenty of pandas

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 12 hrs 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 14 hrs 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 15 hrs 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 17 hrs 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 1 day 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 1 day 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 1 day 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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  • Giants players get a record $388K postseason paycheck

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    The San Francisco Giants are getting one heck of a bonus after winning their third World Series in five years. They're receiving postseason paychecks of $388,605.94, a record for MLB's "playoff share" system that doles out extra money to teams that made the postseason.

    MLB announced Monday how it would distribute the extra $62 million in player money made during the postseason.

    Each team that makes the postseason gets a cut — playoff shares, they're called — depending on how well they fared. The Giants get the most, the Kansas City Royals get the next highest amount and so on.

    Teams then distribute the money accordingly to their players. Most players get a "full share," which came out to $388,000 this year for the Giants. Other players get partial shares or cash awards depending on how much they played. Players on each team vote who gets what.

    This, from MLB, is how the $62 million players' pool is determined:

    Here's a team-by-team breakdown of what a full playoff share paid in 2014:

    This season, the Nats awarded the most full shares (58) while the Pirates and Giants issued the fewest (47), thus raising their individual payouts. 

  • Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez lead 2015 Hall of Fame ballot

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Also on the ballot for the first time are John Smoltz, Carlos Delgado, Gary Sheffield and Nomar Garciaparra. Carryovers who have a good chance to gain election include Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell. Then there are embattled candidates such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, whose cases will be watched closely.

    Martinez and Johnson seem like sure things, considering they both earned multiple Cy Young awards — three for Martinez, five for Johnson. The only knock on Martinez might be that he only won 219 games instead of the magic threshold of 300, but he figures to be on the right side of the vote.

    To earn admittance to the Hall of Fame, players need to appear on 75 percent of the ballots cast by eligible Baseball Writers Association of America members. Three players were elected by BBWAA voters in 2014, the most since 1999. The 2015 class could beat that.

    Here are the 34 names on the ballot:

    Members of the BBWWA for 10 consecutive years get a ballot. They can vote for as many as 10 players. Results will be announced Jan. 6

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  • Reports: Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval finalizing deals with Red Sox

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    It appears as if the Boston Red Sox are trying to shift baseball's balance of power from the West Coast back to New England. 

    Separate reports have the Red Sox signing both Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval in an effort to jump start their offense. 

    Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal says that Ramirez is on his way to Boston to finalize a deal with the Red Sox. We've learned Monday, through Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, that Ramirez's deal is worth in the neighborhood of $88 million over four years with a vesting option for a fifth year.

    Sandoval's played his entire career in San Francisco, where he was a fan favorite, but seemed to eager to explore free agency. The Giants had hoped to keep him, but Boston chased him quickly the San Diego Padres were very interested too.

    So Ramirez could move to third base, but that's where Sandoval has played for the Giants.

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