Nick Castellanos has a hero’s timing. There’s this sense of inevitability about him now. Did anyone not expect him to hit that grand slam? The only thing missing was the ball hitting a light tower. Does Nick call his bat WonderBoy?
Castellanos and Jesse Winker are the best 1-2 in the game and should be until Mike Trout comes off the 60-day IL after the all-star break to rejoin Shohei Ohtani, who’s merely having the greatest two-way season since Babe Ruth played in Boston.
Winker is a special hitter, no doubt, and should only get better. But Castellanos drives the bus. Every good team has at least one player it relies on more than the others, because of his talent or his temperament or both. The Reds haven’t had a guy like Castellanos since Scott Rolen in 2010. Rolen was solid and stoic as a stone and could be just as quiet. Castellanos seems to John Wayne his way through his days. He’s a ba-a-a-a-d man.
He’s also a big reason the Reds need to add talent for the last third of the season. It'd be a big shame if they don't capitalize on the Batmen. I don’t think there’s much chance he decides to come back here next year. Castellanos seems to like the town and his teammates, but money talks and his agent is Scott Boras. The best chance the club has to keep him is by playing in October.
Castellanos is making $14 mil this year; next year, it’d be $16 mil. He can opt out after this year, and it’s doubtful he’d be OK with $16 million. Castellanos is probably not going to get Trout/Harper money ($37 and $27 million, respectively) but he’d be near George Springer, who’s at $23.6 mil or Jason Heyward ($23.5). And he’d want several years. That’d very likely be too rich for The Big Man’s blood. The Reds already are deferring $4 million a year on his existing 4-year deal.
It should be noted that Castellanos switched to Boras’ agency in 2019, just as he was approaching his free-agent season. All of which adds up to Enjoy Him While You Can.
Now, then. . .
SPEAKING OF SHOTIME. . . Ohtani hit a 413-foot homer in his first AB last night at Yankee Stadium. He is having a most incredible season and yet needs to get to NYC before the hype machine truly starts cranking.
He’s the least-hyped superstar since. . .
NY Post gush from this AM:
The Angels’ dynamic right-hander/designated hitter is in the midst of a historic season, among baseball’s leaders in home runs (26), RBIs (60) and OPS (1.031). On the mound, the 6-foot-4 phenom from Japan is just as impressive, notching a 2.58 ERA in 11 starts across 59 ¹/₃ innings while striking out 82 batters. Wednesday, he will be on the mound, putting all of his immense talents on display.
He plays in Big Media Market #2, even if the Angels seem to hide in plain sight down the freeway in Orange County. Can you imagine if the Dodgers had Ohtani and Trout?
He’s from a different country, English isn’t his first language, but that didn’t stop Roberto Clemente and Ichiro from becoming household.
To me, the Angels have always seemed sort of inconsequential, even with all the money they’ve thrown away, er, spent on players. They’re right there with the Rangers when it comes to provoking shrugs. Which is an astounding thing to say about a team with Ohtani and Trout in the same OF.
As The Ringer puts it, “we shouldn’t take this season for granted or treat Ohtani like less than a sports miracle just because he’s playing on the West Coast for a mediocre team.’’
Here’s an answer, also from The Ringer:
“He should be on Wheaties boxes, he should be on video game covers, he should be on talk shows,” says Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing expert at Baker Street Advertising. “Somebody that towers above their sport like that, you’d think he’d be just all over the place. … The comparisons to Babe Ruth are not out of line, so you would think somebody that’s that special would just have tremendous marketing potential.”
So why isn’t Ohtani omnipresent? “A lot of it comes down to making it into the playoffs, winning World Series,” says Dorfman. The Angels, as ever, are a bit below .500, stubbornly sucking despite fielding a few of baseball’s best players. They often play late on East Coast time. Baseball lends itself to regional audiences more so than national (or international) ones.
Ohtani didn’t play two ways or hit like a superstar during his injury-riddled 2019 and 2020 seasons. There’s a language barrier between Ohtani and English-speaking audiences and cultural factors that may make him less likely to seek the spotlight. He’s not on Twitter, and he’s not very active on Instagram, which he didn’t join until last spring. He reportedly makes more than $10 million in endorsements (mostly in Japan), which dwarfs his Angels salary. But perhaps he has little interest in becoming more of a megastar or establishing himself as the so-called “face of baseball.”
And so it goes.
BEWARE THE ALL-STAR GAME. . . If I’m a Reds fan, the last thing I want is Winker and Castellanos spending three days in Denver when they could be taking three days off doing nothing more strenuous than breathing.
Baseball’s stars game is the best, and it is a kick to see Your Guys in the game. But I’d rather My Guys get some rest, avoid tweaking a calf or hamstring running from 1st to 3rd or mess up a swing trying to hit Derby homers.
Is that heresy? Is it?
IF I HEAR ONE MORE MENTION OF SIMONE BILES, I just might have to cheer for the Russian pixies in Tokyo next month. Well not actually, but you get the drift. Biles is the designated It Girl for these Olympics. There’s one every Olympics, ever since Mary Lou Retton and, later, Janet Evans.
Biles is doing things no previous gymnast has done, yes. Biles is engaging, sure. But not every other minute. NBC, rights holder of the Games, is determined to shove Simone down our collective gullet. Just stop, K?
VITAL FANTASY UPDATE AND GLORIFICATION OF MY INFINITE BASEBALL WISDOM. . . Since I traded Gerrit Cole for Brandon Woodruff and Mookie Betts a month ago, my Scufflin’ McMurphy’s are 3-1, the latest triumph coming over Cerrano’s Voodoo, the 1st place team in the league.
I’m in your Contacts, Nick Krall. Feel free to dial me up.
TUNE O’ THE DAY. . . Got lots of reax from Theme From a Summer Place yesterday. Had no idea youse were such Troy Donahue fans. Here’s another really oldie, my favorite Tony Bennett tune.
Bennett or Sinatra?