RIVERA: Potential homes for Josh Hader if Brewers want to trade himBut the Pirates aren’t likely to last into October, with or without Marte, either season, and so it makes sense that the new front-office guru would choose to move the valuable Marte for a couple of younger valuable players, likely prospects. We’ll let Cherington figure out that aspect of the puzzle. Today, we’re looking at three teams that need a standout defensive center fielder who can hit homers and steal bases, too. MetsWhy this makes sense: The Mets need a center field upgrade. They declined their 2020 option ($9.5 million) for defensive-minded Juan Lagares, after a couple of long years of realizing that his ineffectiveness at the plate (OPS+ of 77 the past four seasons) was more important than his glovework. Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto both started 30-plus games in center, but they’re both ideally corner outfielders. And remember, the Mets missed the playoffs by just three games last year.But are the Mets the team best positioned to make the move for Marte? They were 28th in Baseball America’s organization talent ranking, which was published after the 2019 trade deadline. It matters that trading Marte — if it happens this offseason — would be the first substantial decision of Cherington’s time with his new club. He can’t miss with this one. That doesn’t mean he has to produce immediate results with the deal in 2020, because he also can’t be short-sighted. But Marte is better than any of the free-agent outfielders on the market, which puts Cherington and the Pirates in an optimal position. Could the Mets afford to deal the young talent necessary to land Marte from an already thin farm system? PadresWhy this makes sense: Unlike the Mets, the Padres have an excess of young, talented players in their farm system and could easily give the Pirates what they want. San Diego does have an incumbent center fielder, though. Manuel Margot has been the starter there for the past three years, and though he’s only 25, he’s not exactly showing the type of improvement at the plate that would convince the higher-ups that he’s the future. His OPS+ of 83 was a career low, and his career high is just 91. Marte’s OPS+ in 2019 (remember, it’s a park-adjusted stat) was 120. Ben Cherington has a lot on his table right now. He’s the new general manager of the Pirates, and the Pirates hired him because they aren’t in the greatest place at the moment.One of the things on Cherington’s to-do list is to figure out what the future holds for Starling Marte. The club picked up its 2020 option for the 31-year-old outfielder, a no-brainer decision at $11.5 million, after Marte produced a season that included 23 homers, 25 stolen bases, an .845 OPS and 2.9 bWAR in 2019. His contract calls for another option that’s an easy decision if he’s healthy, for $12.5 million in 2021. And here’s the other thing: After a couple of years of rebuilding and accepting losses, the Padres are ready to compete for something other than a run at .500 in 2020. Adding Marte would be a big step in that direction, at a very reasonable cost — trading from a strong, deep farm system and at $24 million in salary over the next two years. White SoxWhy this makes sense: Remember what I just said about the Padres: deep farm system, rebuilt franchise ready to win now, upgrade needed in center field? Well, that applies to the White Sox, too. Four players started games for the ChiSox in center field in 2019: Leury Garcia (71), Adam Engel (65), Ryan Cordell (13) and Charlie Tilson (12). Compared with other teams’ center fielders, the White Sox ranked 23rd in OPS (.699), tied for 17th in runs (86), tied for 25th in homers (16), tied for 20th in stolen bases (13), 19th in on-base percentage (.307) and 26th in ISO (.129). So, yes, there’s room for improvement. The White Sox have a potential future superstar in left field, Eloy Jimenez (31 homers in his Age 22 season in 2019), but he’s still a work in progress with the glove. Pairing an established center fielder — Marte has two Gold Gloves on his resume — next to him for at least the next two years would do wonders for the club’s playoff prospects.
Four students of the Johanna Cecilia Secondary School, in Region Two, were nabbed with a quantity of ganja on Friday.Reports reaching this newspaper detail that the Police received information that four boys were seen smoking cannabis in the school’s toilet.As such, a teacher swooped down on them, and one of the boys, aged 12, was caught with two grams of cannabis. He claimed that he found it in the toilet. His friends, aged 12 and 14, were also searched.This newspaper was told that one 14-year-old admitted that he had brought the substance to school and shared it with the three others. The Police have since launched an investigation.
(NASA photo)The Funny River fire on the Kenai Peninsula has topped 67,000 acres.The combination of Memorial Day weekend and extreme fire conditions have firefighters concerned.Download AudioJim Schwarber, a public information officer with the Alaska Incident Management Team on the Funny River fire, says the fire has been growing gradually in nearly every direction, and is within a few miles of some communities along the Sterling Highway and the Bear Creek subdivision on Tustumena Lake.“We have folks working on all those areas to work towards securing that line to try to hold the fire back,” he said.So far, the fire hasn’t caused any structural damage, but Schwarber says as part of the fire creeps west, firefighters are growing more concerned.“That’s where the larger communities are is on the west side of the fire, and we’re putting a lot of effort into slowing and holding the fire so that it doesn’t cause any damage,” Schwarber said.There are around 375 personnel working on the Funny River fire, with more crews expected in the coming days.Schwarber says this fire is burning a lot hotter than fires normally do this early in the season, which makes it particularly dangerous.“The fire has been burning very active in typical fuels, but it’s also been spreading and burning in mixed hardwoods, which is an area that typically slows a fire,” he said.Certain fuels, like black spruce, tend to burn more actively later in the summer, but this year it’s happening early.As the annual influx of campers make their way down to the Peninsula for Memorial Day weekend, Schwarber says they need to be cognizant of the dangers.“The Kenai is a tinderbox right now, and we need to behave appropriately,” he said.Red Flag warnings are in effect for the western Kenai Peninsula and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.Until further notice, all open fires are prohibited on the Kenai Peninsula. The term “open fires” refers to any flame source not immediately extinguishable or controllable and applies to any form of wood or charcoal-based fire, even in established fire rings. Gas grills, backpacking or camp stoves using fuel or compressed canisters which can be regulated and shut off are still permitted for use.