New Jays GM a fantasy dud

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Though he is a quick learner, apparently.
10 years before replacing J.P. Ricciardi and assuming the title of Blue Jays interim general manager, Alex Anthopoulos took part in Scoresheet fantasy baseball, a game of which I also happen to be a fan.
I’m not going to do a full rundown — if you’re interested, click on the link — but Scoresheet leagues tend to be drafted somewhat similarly to regular fantasy leagues, with the caveat that most are keeper leagues. The big difference is that no categories are involved: games are simulated by the Scoresheet software using actual stats that each player accumulates during each of the 26 weeks of the season. Also, defense counts and managers can employ tendencies, such as when to put the bench into play, whether to sac bunt with anyone but the pitcher and when to pull the starter. It never works perfectly, but it’s still plenty of fun to watch unfold, and there’s a simulated postseason that uses a mixture of September stats and full-season stats to try to come up with the fairest possible result.
As is turned out, Anthopoulos discovered the game long before I did. Thanks to a hot tip from Rotoworld’s Nate Stephens and a little digging, we see that Anthopoulos took part in the 10-team AL-only Harwell League in 1999 and 2000.
In 1999, his “Big Uns” team finished an incredible 49-113, a full 23 games behind any of the league’s other nine clubs. It scored 542 runs and gave up 989. For comparison’s sake, the 1962 Mets scored 617 runs and allowed 948.
Things got ever so slightly better the following year. In the turnaround to end all turnarounds, Anthopoulos’ club went 111-51, a full 62-game improvement. The “Big Uns” scored 1,170 runs and allowed 788. To put that in perspective, one major league team has reached four figures in runs scored in the last 50 years, that being the 1999 Indians at 1009.
So, obviously, this league had some balance issues. Anthopoulos went from worst to first in the regular season and then won the championship 4-1 in the best-of-seven series. Keying his turnaround were some big offseason deals. He moved Mark Mulder, Freddy Garcia and Nick Johnson for Tim Hudson and Paul Konerko. Next was Konerko, Darin Erstad, Kelvim Escobar and one-time top prospect Ryan Anderson for Jason Giambi and Jim Thome. He then spun Thome for Eric Chavez. He somehow managed to swindle away Manny Ramirez, Jorge Posada and Troy Glaus as well, though that did cost him Chavez. Less impressive was trade of Michael Cuddyer for Ron Villone, though that would never come back to haunt him.
To put it mildly, he was an active owner during his two years in the league. But that all changed after 2000, when he got an entry job with the Expos and left fantasy baseball behind. Or at least declined to continue playing under his own name.
Anthopoulos is no lock to keep his GM job once the Blue Jays name a new president, but outgoing CEO Paul Beeston is recommending him for the job. He certainly has my support, and only partly because of the Scoresheet background.
No, the far more significant factor is that, if his team name is any indication at all, he apparently was a “big” Married with Children fan.

Orioles have reached out to Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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From Jon Heyman of CBS Sports comes word that the Orioles “like” free agent starter Yovani Gallardo and “have reached out to him” to gauge his interest in coming to Baltimore and what that might cost.

Gallardo rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Rangers earlier this month and so his free agency is tied to draft pick compensation, but that shouldn’t hurt his bottom line all that much.

The 29-year-old right-hander posted a solid 3.42 ERA in 184 1/3 innings (33 starts) this past season for Texas and he pitched well in his one ALDS start.

Heyman reported a few weeks ago that the Diamondbacks are interested, and the Cubs, Blue Jays, and Dodgers were tied to him just ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.

Cubs, Cardinals, Giants, Dodgers, and Red Sox all showing serious interest in David Price

AP Photo/Tim Donnelly

David Price has expressed a desire to return to Toronto, where he finished out the 2015 season, but FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes Wednesday that the Blue Jays “are not expected to be a major factor in his free agency.”

The teams that should be considered serious suitors, per Rosenthal, are the Cubs, Cardinals, Giants, Dodgers, and Red Sox — all deep-pocketed teams looking to contend in 2016. Money is apparently the issue for the Blue Jays, who are currently owned by Rogers Communications.

Price registered an outstanding 2.45 ERA, 1.076 WHIP, and 225/47 K/BB ratio in 220 1/3 innings (32 starts) this past season between the Tigers and Jays, finishing second in the American League Cy Young Award race behind Dallas Keuchel of the Astros.

The 30-year-old left-hander is probably looking for a six- or seven-year contract worth more than $25 million per season. He is represented by agent Bo McKinnis.

Marlins have begun extension talks with Dee Gordon

Dee Gordon
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald wrote three weeks ago that the Marlins were probably going to explore an extension this winter with second baseman Dee Gordon. And it sounds like those talks are underway.

Via beat writer Joe Frisaro of

As a guest on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” show Wednesday morning, Gordon confirmed his camp has been in talks with the Marlins regarding a multiyear deal. A source told that the discussions are preliminary and have just recently started.

“My agent is doing the talking,” Gordon said on the show. “They’re just keeping me in the loop. I think it’s going pretty well right now. We’ll see how that goes. I’m just playing the waiting game. We’re going to do the right thing.”

The 27-year-old carries three more seasons of salary arbitration, so there’s no real rush to get something done before next spring. Gordon carries quite a bit of leverage after posting a career-best .333/.359/.418 slash line in 145 games this past season for the Fish. He led all major leaguers in hits (205) and stolen bases (58).

Braves sign Bud Norris to one-year contract

Bud Norris

Bud Norris has found a home for his attempt at a bounceback season, signing a one-year deal with the Braves. Jon Heyman of says it’s worth $2.5 million, which is a huge cut from his $8.8 million salary this year.

Norris had established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter from 2009-2014, but had a brutal 2015 season split between the Orioles and Padres with a 6.72 ERA in 83 innings and a late-season move to the bullpen.

In announcing the signing the Braves referred to Norris as a starting pitcher, so joining the rotation for a rebuilding team gives him a chance to get his career back on track with an eye on hitting the open market as a free agent again next offseason. And if he fares well, the Braves could use him to add a prospect or two at the trade deadline.