The Pirates are jerking Sanchez, Wilson and their fans around

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On Friday
I relayed the news of the contract offers given by the Pirates to
Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson. When I did, I said “I can’t recall an
instance of Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington playing games with players.”
Well, here’s an instance of it:

The Pirates yesterday pulled back their contract extension offers to
Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez and, though they remain open to new
negotiations, there was no indication any are forthcoming. “That time
has come and gone,” general manager Neal Huntington said of the offers’
lifespan. “They feel like we’re awfully light both in years and
dollars. In our minds, the conversations are at a standstill . . .
Typically, in a negotiation, you get a counter-offer. That’s how
conversations continue. We’ve not gotten that to this point.”

I love how Huntington is trying to make Wilson and Sanchez sound like
the bad guys here. But listen to Wilson: “Answer me this: How can we
respond with counter-offers when we were told that those were
take-it-or-leave-it offers? How do you counter that?” And then listen
to Huntington again:

“A year ago, I was an idiot for extending Freddy for $6 million. And
now, I’m an idiot for not being willing to give him a heck of a lot
more than that. In Jack’s case, he has played terrific defense for us,
maybe the best of his career. But this is the fourth of five years that
he’s been a below-average league bat for his position. So, we’ve got to
be realistic in our evaluations.”

Except that, according to the wire reports, he wasn’t offering “a heck of a lot more than that”:

Sanchez was offered $10 million over two seasons, a deal contingent
upon him shelving the $8.4 million he will be owed in 2010 if he makes
600 plate appearances this season. Wilson, the most tenured Pirates
player with nine seasons in uniform, was offered $8 million over two
years – or less than his club option of $8.4 million for next season
alone.

To sum up: Sanchez was given an option by Neal Huntington that rewarded
good consistent play, and he has delivered it. The new offer he was
given, however, takes that away and stands to pay him far less than he
can expect to get over the next two years regardless. Wilson is also
being asked to drop his option and take a pay cut, all while being
bad-mouthed by his boss. Neither of the offers ever stood a chance of
being accepted and Huntington had to know it.

Not that they’re necessarily terrible offers on some objective
level. In fact, they probably represent decent approximations of each
players’ value going forward. The problem, though, isn’t the offers
themselves. It’s the way in which they were communicated: publicly, and
in such a way as to put Sanchez and Wilson on the spot and to make them
sound like bad guys when they were rejected.

A GM in Huntington’s position sometimes has to make unpopular moves,
such as parting with popular players like Sanchez and Wilson. He should
have the guts to simply do so, however, rather than make a big phony
show of wanting to keep them in an effort to win the P.R. game.

Dodgers “trying to trade” Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero
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Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.

Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.

Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.

The New Zealand World Baseball Classic team performs the Haka

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It’s World Baseball Classic time again. Just the qualifying rounds. The actual tournament happens in 2017. Qualifiers will happen in Sydney, Australia, Mexicali, Mexico, Panama City, Panama and Brooklyn, N.Y., periodically, between now and September.

The Sydney round just got underway yesterday, so yes, some actual baseball is going on. As I’ve written and ranted before, the WBC is not my favorite thing that happens in baseball and certainly not the most important thing, but it’s pretty fun. Especially when there are displays of enthusiasm and pageantry and the like.

Such as the Haka, which basically every New Zealand sports team does and which never gets old:

 

Down in Sydney, the Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa teams are competing in a six-game, modified double-elimination format. In the other three qualifying rounds, Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Nicaragua, Colombia, France, Panama, Spain, Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan will compete. Each qualifying round puts one representative in the WBC.

Those four qualifiers will compete in the WBC itself against countries that performed well enough in the past that they need not submit to qualifying: Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.

Someone make sure Jon Morosi is well-hyrdrated. It’s gonna be a long year.

Yovani Gallardo and the Orioles are both “optimistic” about a deal

Yovani Gallardo
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Multiple reports Wednesday had the Orioles and free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo deep in negotiations on a multi-year deal. Nothing has been finalized yet, but Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com says “both sides appear to be pretty optimistic still.”

Ghiroli adds that the “ball is in the Orioles’ court,” although that may simply reveal her likely source to be Gallardo’s agent. Whatever the case, Baltimore is apparently now willing to forfeit their first-round draft pick to sign Galllardo and he may lead to a domino effect in which they also forfeit a second-round draft pick to sign outfielder Dexter Fowler.

The idea being that if you’re going to cough up the 14th overall pick to sign a mid-level free agent with spring training right around the corner you might as well cough up a lower draft pick to sign a second one. Gallardo has shown signs of decline, including a big dip in strikeout rate, but he logged 184 innings with a 3.42 ERA for the Rangers last season.

Chipper Jones says the Mets are his pick to “go all the way”

Braves Spring baseball
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Chipper Jones may believe some weird things but he’s pretty savvy and clear-eyed when it comes to analyzing baseball.

Remember back in 2013 how he picked the Dodgers to beat the Braves in the NLDS? And how, because of his perceived “disloyalty,” Braves players had an immature little temper tantrum and refused to catch his ceremonial first pitch? Yeah, that was a great look. If I was more inclined to the hokey and irrational, I’d say that created “The Curse of Chipper” and that it condemned the Braves to two straight years of sucking. Hey, people have built careers on curses sillier than that.

Anyway, kudos to Chipper for apparently not giving a crap about that sort of thing and, instead, saying what he thinks about baseball. Stuff like how he thinks the Mets are going to win it all, saying “They’re really setting the bar and they’re my early-season pick to probably go all the way.”

Keeping in mind that anything can happen in baseball, it’s as good a pick as any other I reckon. Even if it means he has to say that the team who was his greatest rival during his playing career — and whom he thoroughly owned during that time — is better than the one that pays his salary now. Or any other one.