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Wednesday Halolinks: Christmas Eve baseball news

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It's beginning to look a lot like baseball.

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

For many people, mainly those under the age of 12, today and tomorrow are the days they've been waiting for the entire year.  To them, the year consists of holidays, birthdays, Halloween, and the biggest day of all...Christmas.  However, for baseball fans, the countdown to the biggest day of all has already started and will end on Opening Day.  All these holidays just get in the way of the important stuff; who's going to fill that #5 spot in the rotation, where is Trout going to hit in the batting order, second base?  But we can't get away from it.  Christmas is going to happen if we like it or not, so we may as well enjoy it.  Maybe we'll get some new Angels gear to wear next year!

The eve of Halolinks:

  • If Opening Day is baseball fans' Christmas, the beginning of Spring Training is our birthday.  Here's something to to think about before you start blowing out the candles: Angels invite 20 non-roster players to Spring Training -, "Half of the players invited are pitchers, including four right-handers -- Trevor Gott, Yoslan Herrera, Alex Sanabia and Albert Suarez -- and six left-handers -- Edgar Ibarra, Sean Newcomb, Atahualpa Severino, Nate Smith, Scott Snodrass and Adam Wilk. The position players include three catchers -- Charles Cutler, Stephen McGee and Jackson Williams -- four infielders -- Sherman Johnson, Eric Stamets, Ryan Wheeler and Alex Yabrough -- and a trio of outfielders -- Roger Kieschnick, Alfredo Marte and D'Arby Myers."  Do any of these guys make the MLB roster out of Spring Training?
  • Tyler Skaggs is making progress, and doing an interview: Skaggs slowly steering his way toward 2016 -, "It's a slow process," Skaggs said. "It's really getting to me at the moment, because I sit here and my arm is feeling great, I'm happy and I want to push it, but at the same time, I have to take a step back and realize that I'm not even playing next year, so I have to take it slow."
  • It's getting close to the time we're going to start hearing about which team this guy is going to sign with and for how much.  According to these posts, the contract could be in the $40M range, which actually means it'd be more like $80M after the 100% penalty: Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada expected to begin private workouts within two weeks - HardballTalk, "19-year-old infield prospect Yoan Moncada defected from his native Cuba over the summer and was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball back in mid-November, but he is still waiting for official clearance from the United States’ Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and won’t be able to start negotiating with teams until he gets that clearance." This is from last month, but contains some good information: Meet the latest Cuban sensation who could change the game - Yahoo Sports, "So far, the closest any team has come to shattering its pool with one player is the Los Angeles Angels, who signed 20-year-old infielder Roberto Baldoquin for $8 million last week. Moncada is considered a far superior prospect, and with the Angels, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox among the teams that have exceeded their 2014 pools by 15 percent, the incentive exists to go strong on Moncada. Few avenues still exist to outright buy amateur talent, and as MLB goes forward, this may represent among the last."
  • That's almost a half million dollar raise.  MLB average salary makes 12.78 percent jump - ESPN, "The Major League Baseball Players Association said Tuesday the average salary was $3,818,923, up from $3,386,212 last year. The 12.78 percent hike was the biggest since a 12.83 percent rise from 2000 to 2001."
  • Here's how MLB teams weigh injury worries. - : Lindsay Berra, "Every pitcher in the sport has something going on in his shoulder or elbow, and as a GM, you have to decide where you're going to draw the line in the sand," says Duquette. "But you just can't predict. Really, anyone can blow up tomorrow."
  • What?? (in best Scooby-Do voice): Successes in Walking – The Hardball Times, "Mike Trout had a terrific walk rate last season of 12 percent. One factor in that walk rate? His significantly below average zone contact rate of 85 percent."
  • A couple former Angels transactions: Cardinals Sign Jordan Walden To Two-Year Deal – MLB Trade Rumors, "Walden receives a $350K signing bonus before earning $2.5MM in 2015 and $3.5MM in 2016, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets. The $5.25MM club option comes with a $250K buyout."  And: Maronde clears waivers, outrighted to Triple-A -, "The Indians maintained a layer of depth on Tuesday, when left-hander Nick Maronde cleared waivers. Cleveland subsequently sent the pitcher outright to Triple-A Columbus and extended an invitation to attend Spring Training with the Major League club."
  • I haven't decided how I feel about this yet.  Like most of us, I collected baseball cards, and still have boxes stashed around here.  I collected mainly 1950s and 1960s cards, so the I wasn't caught up in the "card rush" of the 80s and 90s.  I collected be cause I liked looking at the cards, holding them, sorting them, and reading them.  Yet, I see how this app could be cool because you can always have your collection with you.  Topps Bunt app: Can the company save itself and a beloved hobby with baseball cards that live inside your phone? "Bramlage is right that the younger demographic is "very rational" in its preference for phone-bound virtuality over fragile cardboard—a photo on Instagram is indeed more reliably backed-up and more readily shared than one in a scrapbook—but I've never known baseball cards as anything but baseball cards. Having traded them with classmates on a literal gravel-and-hormone schoolyard did little to prepare me for the scaled-up proposition of trading them on a sprawling virtual bazaar."  (thanks Baseball Think Factory)