Do you remember Justin Bour? The former Cubs prospect hit .283/.360/.455 with 110 RBI for the Tennessee Smokies in 2012, but was blocked behind some scrub named Anthony Rizzo, which led to his eventual selection by the Marlins in the 2013 minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft.
Bour went on to be an above average offensive contributor in the big leagues from 2014-2018, peaking with a 134 wRC+ and 25 homers in 2017, but had a rough go of it with the Angels last season (65 wRC+, -0.4 WAR). Given his age, position, offensive decline, and the general environment right now, Bour took his talents to the NPB, where he’s playing right now with the Hanshin Tigers.
Here’s some video of him lacing his 3rd home run of the preseason off the right field foul pole.
Dude’s got power.
MLB Players Abroad
Speaking of former big leaguers taking their talents across the ocean …
[SBS] | According to sources, at least 3 former MLB All-Stars, including Matt Harvey, have expressed their interest in playing in the KBO.
— Jason (Hanshin) Lee (@Jasons_JaysHub) June 5, 2020
Heading to the KBO (Korea) or NPB (Japan) really is a great way for borderline big leaguers to improve their status (while making some real money) or former stars to keep the dream going. And it really is a win-win for everyone, assuming the player can win a job, as the foreign league gets a big-name, talented player and the player gets to keep earning while keeping one foot in the door for a return to the big leagues, where they might ultimately prefer to be.
As for Matt Harvey, well, it may be time to rebuild that value. After a near-comeback with the Reds for half a season in 2018 (4.50 ERA), the former ace was quite awful with the Angels last season (7.09 ERA) and may be taking a page out of his teammate, Justin Bour’s, book.
Now I wonder who the two other “former all-stars” are.
Torii Hunter Would Not Play in Boston
Although the catalyst for the recent wave of racial revelations across all major sports was much broader than sports (and the process long overdue), I am glad to see so many players step forward to tell their stories. These stories are important and help foster understanding among the masses, particularly for those who may have otherwise been closed off to this part of our world. And today, we have a new one from Torii Hunter.
Even as a 9x Gold Glove winner, 2x Silver Slugger, and 5x All-Star, Hunter was unable to escape racial abuse throughout his career. But nowhere, he claims, was worse than Boston:
“I’ve been called the N-word in Boston 100 times, and I said something about it,” Hunter said. “(People would say) ‘Oh, he’s just a militant, he’s lying, this didn’t happen.’ No, it happened. All the time. From little kids. And grown-ups right next to them didn’t say anything. … So I had a no-trade clause in everything I had not to go to Boston. Not because of all the people, not because of the teammates, not because of the front office. Because if you’re doing that and it’s allowed amongst the people, I don’t want to be there. And that’s why I had a no-trade clause to Boston. Every contract I’ve ever had. And I always wanted to play for them. It sucks.”
Hunter had a no-trade clause put into each and every one of his contracts – probably at the expense of something else he wanted/more money – so that he might avoid even the tiniest risk of playing in that stadium. Let that sink in.
Eugenio Suarez and Nick Senzel Heal Up
Cubs killer Eugenio Suarez is back to 100% health after January’s surgery to remove loose cartilage from his shoulder, and Nick Senzel (torn labrum) is apparently doing fine, as well:
#Reds Dick Williams said Suárez is 100 percent and Senzel is doing good.
— C. トレント・ローズクランズ (@ctrent) June 3, 2020
Both are expected to be ready to go if/whenever play resumes this season. This is yet another example of the hiatus positively impacting teams with players who would’ve missed a significant portion of the season. They still have only so many games they can affect, but if they’re available for 100% of the games the teams do play, their relative value will be much higher than it would’ve been in a normal 2020.
Also, that Reds lineup, man … Suarez, Senzel, Nick Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, Shogo Akiyama, Joey Votto, Phillip Ervin, Aristides Aquino. There’s certainly plenty of risk in that group, but there’s also a LOT of upside.
They also have Pedro Strop.
For the first time since March, the Mets have opened the doors to their spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida. And four to six players have already begun training at the complex, including Wilson Ramos.
It’s not much, but I just like seeing actual baseball players do actual activity.
The Athletic Makes Cuts
It’s a sad day today, as the The Athletic was forced to lay off 8% of their staff, which comes to 46 real people. In addition, everyone else is taking a pay cut through the end of the year. Hopefully those laid off will land on their feet.
NEWS: @TheAthletic lays off 8% of staff (46 people), implements staff-wide pay cut
— Sara Fischer (@sarafischer) June 5, 2020