Quick Hits: Utley, Beltran, Weiner, PEDs

Batting practice has long been a fixture in baseball, but in a piece for WEEI.com, Gabe Kapler suggests shaking things up by adopting the Japanese way.  In Japan, B.P. involves a left-handed hitter and a right-handed hitter going pitch-for-pitch, which, Kapler explains, results in a more worthwhile experience for all involved.  Kapler also highlights some aspects of NPB that he was less wild about, including his time with the Yomiuri Giants where he was handed a stuffed animal at home plate to give away to a fan after notching a homer.  Here's more from around baseball..

  • Chase Utley is basically the second base version of Carlos Beltran, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs (on Twitter) opines.  While both players aren't what they used to be and have dealt with injuries, they're still easily worth ~$13MM per year.  Utley agreed to a two-year deal worth $25-30MM earlier tonight with multiple vesting options, a deal that reportedly started with Beltran as a comparable.
  • MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner placed much of the blame for the recent Biogenesis scandal on Juan Carlos Nunez, an aide who steered several players towards the Florida clinic, writes Steve Eder of the New York Times.  Weiner went on to deflect criticism from the ACES agency, which has been heavily linked to the suspensions.  “From our perspective, there is no evidence Sam and Seth have been involved in anything directly,” Weiner said. “Nobody said: ‘Sam and Seth [Levinson] set me up. Sam and Seth knew what was going on.’” 
  • One consequence of PEDs is that it can make it more difficult for MLB execs to evaluate talent, GM Jon Daniels explained to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.
  • Ben Badler of Baseball America (subscription required) looks at six Cuban players with major league potential.

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