Fake trade: Fielder to Boston for Ellsbury

Leave a comment

Red Sox acquire first baseman Prince Fielder from the Brewers for outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and RHP Michael Bowden.
Why it works for Boston: Since David Ortiz may be more of a No. 6 hitter going forward, the Red Sox could use a left-handed power presence in the third or fourth spot in the order. Unlike anyone available in free agency this winter, Fielder provides that in spades. He finished third in the majors in OPS, second in homers, tied for first in RBI and fourth in walks this season. Boston can also easily handle his $10.5 million salary, and the team may prefer the short-term commitment to him rather than going to five years to re-sign Jason Bay or six or seven to bring in Matt Holliday.
Why it works for Milwaukee: The Brewers would want a young ace as the primary return for Fielder, but Ellsbury, the major league leader in steals this season, would fit nicely. As is, the Brewers would have to spend about $20 million to bring back Fielder and free agent Mike Cameron next year. They could plug Mat Gamel and Ellsbury into those holes, and since both are making the minimum, use the savings to bring in a pair of quality veteran starters this winter. Plus, they’d get a legitimate rotation option in Bowden, who had a 3.13 ERA in 24 starts as a 22-year-old in Triple-A this year. He projects as more of a No. 4 starter in the AL, but he may be a legit No. 3 in the NL.
Why it won’t happen: Milwaukee would probably hold out for Clay Buchholz in a Fielder deal, and the Red Sox won’t want to trade their young starter after the way he came on in the second half of the year. The Brewers have the ability to hold on to Fielder at his relatively modest salary for one more year and would still be able to get plenty for him in trade next winter, when he’ll have one year to go before free agency. In the meantime, they can shop J.J. Hardy and see if he’ll being a decent starter.

Miguel Cabrera has two herniated discs in his back

Jason Miller/Getty Images
1 Comment

Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera underwent an MRI which revealed two herniated discs in his back, MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports. With six games remaining in the season, if Cabrera plays again, it will be as a designated hitter.

The back issues shed a lot of light on Cabrera’s uncharacteristically subpar season. He’s batting .249/.329/.399 with 16 home runs and 60 RBI in 529 plate appearances this season. He carries an adjusted OPS of 92, which is eight points below the league average and 14 points below his previous career low set in 2003 with the Marlins.

Cabrera, 34, is signed through 2023 and is owed a minimum of $192 million through the end of his contract.

MLB managers weigh in on anthem protests

Getty Images
4 Comments

No other Major League Baseball player has taken a knee during the National Anthem since Athletics’ catcher Bruce Maxwell‘s protest on Saturday night. The demonstration was sparked by President Donald Trump’s call for the boycott of the National Football League and the firing of any player who chose not to stand during the anthem. The comments drew harsh criticism from many NFL players, coaches and owners and more than a few in MLB have also lended their support. There is still one game left to play on Sunday, but it’s unclear whether any of Maxwell’s league-mates will show their solidarity by refusing to stand as well.

Given a baseball culture that tends toward conformity more often than not, it seems unlikely. But it’s something league managers are prepared for — even if they don’t all agree with the demonstrations themselves.

White Sox’ skipper Rick Renteria specifically addressed Maxwell’s protest on Sunday, speaking to the league’s policy of inclusivity:

None of the White Sox knelt prior to their series finale against the Royals. Neither did members of the Pirates or the Cardinals, though St. Louis manager Mike Matheny and Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington both weighed in on the situation.

Matheny called the president’s comments “hurtful” and, like the Cubs’ Joe Maddon, appeared content to leave the decision to protest up to each player.

The Pirates, meanwhile, took a firmer tone. “We appreciate our players’ desire and ability to express their opinions respectfully and when done properly,” GM Huntington told Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “When done appropriately and properly, we certainly have respect for our players’ ability to voice their opinion.”

Just what the Pirates consider “appropriate and proper” protocol was left up in the air, and club president Frank Coonelly offered no further insights in a separate statement to the press. Setting strict parameters for players to voice their opinions kind of puts them in a gray area, one they’ll have to clear up should someone elect to protest in the days to come, either with a bent knee and a hand over their heart or in some other fashion.

Equally ambiguous were comments from Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts, who claimed to oppose the movement for personal, if misguided reasons, but also respected the right of his players to make an “educated” statement in protest.

The Indians’ Terry Francona took what was perhaps the most balanced approach of the entire group:

“It’s easy for me to sit here and say, ‘Well, I think this is the greatest country in the world,’ because I do,” Francona told MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. “But, I also haven’t walked in other people’s shoes. So, until I think, not just our country, but our world, until we realize that, hey, people are actually equal — it shouldn’t be a revelation — and the different doesn’t mean less. It’s just different. We’ve got work to do.”

These may all be moot points. Maxwell may be the only player to formally protest Trump’s comments, despite the good intentions of his teammates and fellow players around the league. Others may feel too ambivalent, threatened or uncomfortable to protest what the A’s catcher referred to as a “racial divide,” especially in a way that is routinely perceived as unpatriotic.

Even if the protests made by NFL players and Bruce Maxwell fail to gain momentum, however, the underlying issues they speak to are not going away anytime soon. Here, then, is where MLB managers can help foster a more inclusive environment throughout the league, not only by showing respect for a player’s decision to stand against racism but by actively partnering with those who do so. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a start.