On this date in 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in the small town of Hodgenville, Kentucky. Schooled formally for just a single year as a child, Lincoln worked on his intellect by spending all his free time devouring books. In 1860 the Great Emancipator was elected as our 16th president, where he led the U.S. through the tumultuous Civil War and put an end to the abomination that was/is slavery.
Today's timely trivia question: The leader of the Republican Party during his time as president, Lincoln actually began his political career as a member of another, short-lived political group. What was the name of that party? (Answer below)
The Big Three
1. Wow. Signing of the offseason? Michael Bourn is the new center fielder for the Cleveland Indians. I definitely didn't see that one coming. There was a smattering of rumors indicating that the Tribe might make a run for Bourn if his price dropped "A LOT," I just didn't think his demands would drop enough. Bourn started the year with $100 million on his mind, and spent most of the offseason searching for someone to give him five years and $75 million, so that the Tribe got him for four years and $48 million is an absolute steal. Cleveland will pay Bourn -- who has averaged 4.8 WAR a season since 2009 -- more than $27 million less in guaranteed money than his former team is giving B.J. Upton -- who has averaged just 1.8 WAR -- over the next five seasons. If we're to say that roughly $4 million equals one win, then Bourn needs to average just 3.0 WAR a season to have his new deal "break even." The Tribe's starting rotation is still full of uncertainties, but at least their outfield will something to reckon with over the next several years. Meanwhile, Kyle Lohse is still homeless.
2. The Oakland Athletics have agreed to a minor-league deal with former Boston reliever Hideki Okajima. The veteran left-hander spent the 2012 season with the SoftBank Hawks in the Japanese Pacific League, where he demolished the competition to the tune of a 0.94 ERA in 56 relief appearances. Okajima pitched very well in his five-year tenure with the Red Sox, but was banished to Triple-A after a small sample of control issues flared up in early 2011. Despite a stellar 2.29 ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio of over five once down in the minors, Okajima never found his way back to the big-league club as they choked away their postseason aspirations. Okajima has a very good chance of making the A's relief corps out of camp and should thrive in Oakland's pitcher-friendly confines.
3. The New York Yankees and second baseman Robinson Cano have had preliminary discussions about a contract extension, according to owner Hal Steinbrenner. The Bombers are usually very patient about these kind of things -- typically waiting until the player's contract expires before approaching them -- but Cano's future plays a crucial role in the club making it under the luxury tax threshold by next season. The situation seems kind of lose-lose for the Yanks at this point. There doesn't seem to be any feasible way for the club to re-sign Cano long-term and meet their $189 million goal unless they part ways with another highly-paid player (say, Curtis Granderson). If the club decides not to re-sign Cano, however, then their options at second base are pretty terrible.
In Other News...
1. Jonathan Papelbon admitted over to weekend to using the drug Toradol regularly as a member of the Boston Red Sox. Though strictly legal, the drug can have serious side effects and points to a clubhouse culture that is still reliant on drugs to get through the long haul of the season. I find the idea that doctors will inject players with powerful drugs on request to be incredibly frightening.
2. The Orioles and Cardinals are keeping their eyes peeled to see if Astros' right-hander Bud Norris becomes available this spring or summer. GM Jeff Luhnow said last week that the club isn't actively shopping Norris, but that doesn't mean they won't give him up for the right return.
3. We're starting up a fantasy baseball league here at MLBDD and we'd love it if you'd join! Go here for all the info.
- Twitter policeman/ESPN writer Darren Rovell gets taken to town by Will Leitch. Definitely worth the read.
- How much would you be willing to pay for a bacon sandwich? Is $235 too much?
- SNL spoofs the confirmation hearing of Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel. The sketch was cut from the actual show, but they really shouldn't have:
Trivia Answer: Lincoln began his political career as a steadfast member of the Whig Party, which was created in 1833 to oppose the policies of Andrew Jackson's Democratic Party. In it's nearly three decades of existence only two Whig candidates were elected president: William Henry Harrison and Zachary Tyler. Both of them died in office.