Five managers on the hot seat

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1. Eric Wedge (Indians) – The Indians might have been more justified in
firing Wedge a month ago, before injuries to Grady Sizemore, Asdrubal
Cabrera, Aaron Laffey and Anthony Reyes gave the team a better excuse
for its poor record. The Indians have been underperforming all along,
though. They’re nine games under .500 even though they’ve scored just
nine fewer runs than their opponents over the course of the year
(308-317). Wedge was too slow to try to put a better defensive team on
the field, and he deserves some of the blame for the bullpen woes. It’s
time for a change.

2. Manny Acta (Nationals) – Acta won’t survive into 2010 if the
Nationals amass baseball’s worst record for the second year in a row.
He’ll be lucky to make it into August unless his team puts together a
winning streak soon. Acta seems more open to new ideas than most and
has shown a willingness to experiment, but he’s done a poor job of
handling what’s been baseball’s worst pitching staff.

3. Cecil Cooper (Astros) – I don’t think the Astros are
underachieving at 25-30 one-third of the way through the season, but GM
Ed Wade and owner Drayton McLane likely disagree. Cooper’s status has
been the subject of speculation since almost the beginning of the
season, and he actually seems a little safer now than he did a month
ago, as the Astros have been winning recently. I still think he’s
likely to go if the Astros don’t move up from last place in the NL
Central to at least fourth by the All-Star break.

4. Trey Hillman (Royals) – The Royals’ surprisingly strong start
raised expectations and thus may have hurt Hillman’s case for sticking
around. Kansas City always figured to be a 75-win team, but that might
not fly after an April in which an AL Central title looked like a
legitimate goal. Hillman’s faults are obvious: he does as poor of a job
of running a bullpen as any manager in baseball and he pays little
attention to platoon advantages on offense or defense. I don’t see him
landing another major league managerial job once the Royals let him go.

5. Bud Black (Padres) – Truly a pleasant surprise, San Diego is just
four games under .500 despite possessing what looked like baseball’s
weakest collection of talent at the beginning of the year. Only the
Nationals and Orioles have worse run differentials than the Padres, who
have scored 221 runs and given up 271. That Black has coaxed the team
to a 26-30 record is quite an achievement. Still, Black is managing a
team that is expected to eventually have a new owner in Jeff Moorad.
CEO Sandy Alderson is gone, and it seems likely that more changes will
come after the year. Black will likely survive the season, but if the
Padres opt to go in a different direction at GM over the winter, then
they may bring in a new manager as well.

Others – Fredi Gonzalez has my vote for baseball’s worst manager,
but the Marlins won’t want to have to pay two managers at once again. …
Jerry Manuel’s Mets are playing better lately, so he should be safe
unless his mouth gets him in trouble. … A’s manager Bob Geren has
plenty of support from good friend Billy Beane and can’t be blamed for
assembling baseball’s most injury-prone team.

There will be no criminal charges arising out of Curt Schilling’s video game debacle

Curt Schilling
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In 2012 Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios, delivered the fantasy role-playing game it had spent millions of dollars and countless man hours trying to deliver. And then the company folded, leaving both its employees and Rhode Island taxpayers, who underwrote much of the company’s operations via $75 million in loans, holding the bag.

The fallout to 38 Studios’ demise was more than what you see in your average business debacle. Rhode Island accused Schilling and his company of acts tantamount to fraud, claiming that it accepted tax dollars while withholding information about the true state of the company’s finances. Former employees, meanwhile, claimed — quite credibly, according to reports of the matter — that they too were lured to Rhode Island believing that their jobs were far more secure than they were. Many found themselves in extreme states of crisis when Schilling abruptly closed the company’s doors. For his part, Schilling has assailed Rhode Island politicians for using him as a scapegoat and a political punching bag in order to distract the public from their own misdeeds. There seems to be truth to everyone’s claims to some degree.

As a result of all of this, there have been several investigations and lawsuits into 38 Studios’ collapse. In 2012 the feds investigated the company and declined to bring charges. There is currently a civil lawsuit afoot and, alongside it, the State of Rhode Island has investigated for four years to see if anyone could be charged with a crime. Today there was an unexpected press conference in which it was revealed that, no, no one associated with 38 Studios will be charged with anything:

An eight-page explanation of the decision concluded by saying that “the quantity and qualify of the evidence of any criminal activity fell short of what would be necessary to prove any allegation beyond a reasonable doubt and as such the Rules of Professional Conduct precluded even offering a criminal charge for grand jury consideration.”

Schilling will likely crow about this on his various social media platforms, claiming it totally vindicates him. But, as he is a close watcher of any and all events related to Hillary Clinton, he no doubt knows that a long investigation resulting in a declination to file charges due to lack of evidence is not the same thing as a vindication. Bad judgment and poor management are still bad things, even if they’re not criminal matters.

Someone let me know if Schilling’s head explodes if and when someone points that out to him.

Andrew Miller for Lucas Giolito: WHO SAYS NO?!!

BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 28:  Lucas Giolito #44 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the first inning during a baseball game against the New York Mets at Nationals Park on June 28, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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The rumor mongers are churning up some good stuff about the Yankees and the Nationals maybe talking about an Andrew Miller for Lucas Giolito deal. It started with Jon Morosi saying that the Nationals were willing to trade Giolito, one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, to the Yankees for Miller straight up.

Taking two steps back, the idea of a Miller-for-Giolito deal seems like it’d be something the Yankees would jump at in a heartbeat. Giolito would, in the normal course, be worth more than a relief pitcher. Even a good one under team control like Miller is. So if the Nats were willing to do this, the Yankees would be fools not to accept, right?

Well, no. Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman are saying that the Yankees are looking for a massive return for Miller, more than what Cubs gave them for Aroldis Chapman. That deal netted New York prospect Gleyber Torres and three other players who have future value. Gioloto is worth more straight up than Torres, but the Yankees want another big package, not just one guy. Assuming those reports are true, are the Yankees being greedy?

Maybe not! Maybe it’s not about the Yankees’ eyes being wide. Maybe it’s about the nature of prospects and how all of our eyes get a bit wide over them, especially when national rankings are released each spring. We see Giolito or someone like him named the top prospect — or maybe a top-3 prospect — and immediately believe they are untouchable or, at the very least, close to invaluable.

But here, if the rumors are to be believed, the Nats are offering him for a relief pitcher. And the Yankees are saying “nah, we need more.” Maybe they both see something the prospect raters and coveters don’t. Maybe, in the abstract, they’re just as high on him as the raters and coveters are but maybe they don’t live in the abstract. Maybe they have the added benefit of (a) experience with the fortunes of young pitching prospects; and (b) a downside risk in loving them too much that the raters and coveters don’t have. No prospect rater risks being fired if the guy they rank #1 in any given year blows his shoulder out. Team employees have been.

I have no idea if there are legs to these rumors. I know that I like Giolito as a prospect, for whatever that’s worth, and the Yankees definitely have a need for young, projectable and controllable pitching talent. Likewise, given that they’re in a transitional period right now and given that they Have Dellin Betances, they could do without Andrew Miller if they needed to. He’s someone they could deal in order to get a guy in Gioloto who would instantly become their top prospect.

But it’s the deadline and people get a bit nuts. Teams ask for the stars, yes, but those of us on the outside tend to forget that a huge number of prospects, especially pitching prospects, never pan out. For all of the hype a deadline occasions and for as much as we see a beautiful future for each and every young hurler that comes down the pike, there are no clear answers about who is or who isn’t being unreasonable here. That is, if any of this stuff is true.

Enjoy the trade deadline, everyone. Just remember that no one knows anything and everyone, on some level, is making a bet.