Over the last couple of days the Orioles have been trying to either re-sign Chris Davis or sign Yoenis Cespedes. Now, the word is that Davis is staying in Baltimore, where he’s played since 2011. He has agreed to a 7-year deal at a reported $161 million. Davis will be 30 this March, so the deal will keep him in Baltimore until he is approaching his 37th birthday.
It’s hard to believe but Davis actually began his career with the Texas Rangers. After not signing with the Yankees and Angels, the Rangers took him in round 5 of the 2006 draft and had him in Arlington by 2008. He was traded at the deadline in 2011 to the Orioles where he made his mark, and earned the nickname “Crush Davis he’d been given as a Ranger. That’s a nice bit of word play on the name “Crash Davis” in the baseball classic movie “Bull Durham.” He was an All-Star in 2013 and led his league in home runs that year and again in 2015. The deal hinges on him passing a physical, and given his past health record that should just be a formality. The O’s have never given a player such a long and large contract. They didn’t have to in their great days from 1966-75, as free agency was just beginning when their best years were ending. His signing leaves Yoenis Cespedes and his braintrust wondering what to do next.
There are still a number of decent pitchers on the market, but former Yankee Ian Kennedy isn’t one of them. He joins the Royals with a 5-year $70 million contract. You forgot who Kennedy was? not surprising. He was with the Diamondbacks from 2010-2013, then the Padres until now. East of the Rockies, it isn’t easy to follow those teams especially since neither is usually a playoff contender although Arizona is trying to become one again. Kennedy joins a Royals pitching staff that won the most recent World Series and may fill Johnny Cueto’s spot. He turned 32 last month. The Yankees drafted him in round 1 in 2006 from the legendary college program at USC in Los Angeles. He reached the Bronx by September 2007. He went to the Diamondbacks in a multi-player 3-way deal that netted the Yankees Curtis Granderson. In 2011 he won 21 games for the D-Backs leading the league in wins. He lost his one NLDS start and they lost the series in 5 to the Brewers. Following his wedding in 2007, he and his bride walked up the aisle. Normally when that happens, a piece by Mendelsohn is played. In their case it was “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” As of now they have 4 daughters.
Houston does not have a problem concerning their star pitcher Dallas Keuchel. Rather than facing arbitration, he signed a one-year deal for $7.25 million. This is the biggest deal signed by a pitcher in his first year of arbitration eligibility. His name is pronounced KyKall and he was taken in round 7 in 2009 by the Astros from the University of Arkansas. He had a breakout year lat year, grabbing the Cy Young award with a 20-8 mark. his best before that was 12-9. He particularly looked like Koufax against the Yankees, shutting them down 3 times including the wild card game. He was the third Astro to win a Cy Young award following Mike Scott in 1986 and Roger Clemens in 2004.
As for today’s birthdays, Mark Trumbo is 30. He was an All-Star once in 2012, but is only a .250 hitter. I don’t see what the fuss was when he joined the Orioles after a trade from Seattle.
Albert Pujols is 36. His signing with the Angels moved Trumbo off first base and ultimately out of the league. I was surprised to see he still carries a .312 lifetime average and almost 2700 hits, leaving him plenty of room to reach 3,000 in spite of the fact that he’s not the player he was when he left the Cardinals who he joined in 2001. He’s been an All-Star 10 times and should end up with between 600 and 700 home runs. He was Rookie of the year then and MVP 3 times, helping the Cards win the 2006 and 2011 World Series. As a rookie he played third, left and right. Now, the idea of putting him anywhere but first base or DH would be absurd.
Jack McDowell is 50 today. Mostly forgotten now, Black Jack was an All-star 3 times, 1991-93, won the 1993 Cy Young award and led the league in wins. Those feats were performed for the White Sox. They made the 1993 ALCS losing to the Blue Jays. After 1994, He spent a season as part of the resurgence of the Yankees, losing twice against Randy Johnson in the 1995 ALDS. The PaleHose took him in round 1 in 1987 after 3 years at Stanford. He reached the show that season after just 6 minor league games. His last decent ear was 1996 with the Indians.
Steve Balboni is 59. Known as Bye-Bye Balboni as a Yankee, he was known for his monster home runs and low batting average. He hit 239 minor league home runs and 181 MLB home runs. His 36 home runs in 1985 is still the Royals’ single season record. On a personal note I briefly dated a girl who had a massive crush on Balboni. One night in 1989 he hit a walkoff home run while we were at the game. Following her reaction I’m lucky I still have a neck!
One Hall of Famer was born on this date. Dizzy Dean was born this day in 1910 and died July 17, 1974. He came to fame pitching for the Cardinals’ GasHouse Gang of the 1930’s. When arm trouble ruined his career he turned to broadcasting and set the profession back 50 years. He reportedly got letters from schoolteachers about how he mangled the King’s English during his memorable broadcasts. Sadly, only a few partial broadcasts of his are known to exist. He and PeeWee Reese handled the Game of the Week on TV for many years. He answered to either Jay Hanna or Jerome Herman Dean. He predicted his results decades before Joe Namath or Muhammad Ali. Most famously he predicted he and his brother Paul would win 45 Cardinals games in 1934. Paul won 19, Diz won 30-making 49. In the press Paul was known as Daffy, but he was tame compared to his big brother. Perhaps his most famous saying concerning his boasts was, in his lingo “If ya done it, it ain’t braggin’.” As a broadcaster he was a huge presence, coming in around 300 pounds. His death was sudden, on the day of the 1974 All-star game.