Torre becomes fifth-winningest manager of all time

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By beating the A’s last night Joe Torre moved past Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson for fifth place on the all-time wins list with 2,195.

“If you told me a dozen years ago that I’d be in this rarefied air, I’d
tell you you’re full of baloney because I certainly started way under
.500 when I took over the Yankees in 1996,” Torre said. “I have to
thank George Steinbrenner for putting me in a position to do this. I’ve
admired what Sparky did for all those years, and I’m proud to be in
that company.”

Torre is certainly right about his career path being different than
you’d expect from the fifth-winningest skipper in baseball history, as
he became a manager in 1977 at the age of 36 and spent five seasons
going just 286-420 (.405) with the Mets. By comparison, Anderson won
102 games as a 36-year-old rookie manager in 1970, and had four NL
pennants and two World Series titles after seven seasons on the job.

Not only did Torre start slow, he had a modest 894-1,003 (.471)
career record when Steinbrenner hired him to take over the Yankees as a
55-year-old in 1996. The rest is history, of course, as Torre won six
AL pennants, four championships, and 60 percent of his games during a
dozen seasons in New York and has gone 128-101 (.559) in two seasons in
Los Angeles.

Torre will have a very difficult time moving higher than fifth on
the all-time wins list because he has two active managers ahead of him
in Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, and they lead him by 162 and 301 wins,
respectively. Of course, his standing in the top five is also very
safe, as 65-year-old Lou Piniella is the next-closest active manager
with 463 fewer wins and no one else is even within 800.

Connie Mack is the all-time leader with an amazing 3,731, which is
35 percent more than second place John McGraw at 2,763. To put that
into some context, consider that Torre could win 100 games per season
until the age of 80 and he’d still be 280 shy of Mack. Also consider
that, among the 10 managers with 2,000 victories, Mack is the only one
with a sub-.500 record. He managed an astounding 7,755 games–only 347
fewer than Torre and Anderson combined–and won 48.6 percent of them.

Shapiro, Murray defend Dellin Betances after arbitration feud

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees and the American League pitches against the National League during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.

Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”

Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”

Royals will experiment with Alex Gordon in all three outfield spots this year

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 7: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals reacts to a fan while on first base during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.

Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.

According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.

While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.