Annoyingly, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi have been doing a blog that’s not a blog for FOXSports. Rosenthal is the best in the biz at putting legitimate rumors out there, but FOX has made it more and more difficult to access his latest tidbits, with too much content that doesn’t carry over to RSS and nothing being carried over to twitter. FOX just wants people checking the website at random intervals, apparently.
Also, in many cases, there’s no way to tell what is written by Rosenthal and what comes from Morosi, who simply doesn’t have Rosenthal’s track record in this game. That’s not a knock on Morosi, but it’s a ridiculous call from FOX and it’s incredible that Rosenthal puts up with it.
OK, enough complaining. Let’s check out the latest to see what Rosenthal, or perhaps Morosi, has for us:
*The Mariners have discussed Edwin Jackson with the Tigers and also like center fielder Curtis Granderson, though talks “are not all that serious,” according to FOXSports.com’s source.
The Tigers have way too much money tied up in horrible contracts and may choose to move Jackson, who is due $5 million-$6 million in arbitration and is two years away from free agency. Granderson is less likely to go, particularly to the Mariners, who already have an excellent center fielder in Franklin Gutierrez.
The report mentions right-handers Brandon Morrow and Shawn Kelley as possibilities for the Tigers in a Jackson trade. Detroit would insist on more than those two, though. Morrow still hasn’t made it as a closer or a starter, and Kelley is probably a setup man at best.
The Tigers are in need of a closer and could well target David Aardsma instead. Aardsma likely has more trade value than Morrow and Kelley combined, and the Mariners have the potential to cobble together a pretty good bullpen without him, particularly with top prospect Phillip Aumont on the way. Aumont is another pitcher the Tigers are surely asking about in return for Jackson, though he’d be hard to pry away.
Aardsma and a second-tier prospect for Jackson may well make sense for both teams. The Tigers would get a closer who is under control for three more years and save some money in the process. The Mariners would win from a talent standpoint.
*Agent Bean Stringfellow said the Red Sox, Braves, Nationals, Astros and Orioles are five of the eight clubs currently showing interest in free agent Billy Wagner.
That’s awfully straight-forward talk from Stringfellow, but of the five teams mentioned, only the Astros come as much of a surprise. It seems unlikely that they’ll come up with the cash to bring Wagner back to Houston. Atlanta, Washington and Baltimore all have to be rather appealing to Wagner from a location standpoint. The Virginia native likely would prefer to remain on the East Coast, and he’ll have the opportunity to do so.
There’s been talk of Wagner potentially accepting arbitration and staying with the Red Sox, but it’s highly unlikely that he’ll go that route. He’ll get a fair amount of cash and a guaranteed deal as a free agent. If he accepted arbitration, perhaps he could get a higher salary on a one-year deal, but it wouldn’t be in the form of a guaranteed contract. If he struggles or gets hurt during spring training, the Red Sox could cut him and owe him just one-sixth or one-quarter (depending on the timing) of his salary. The Red Sox are also perhaps the only interested team that wouldn’t use him as a closer.
*The Nationals are “drawing strong trade interest” in 30-year-old outfielder Josh Willingham.
The Nats buried Willingham at the beginning of last season, giving him just 35 at-bats in April, but as Lastings Milledge, Austin Kearns and Elijah Dukes all faltered, he stepped up and went on to hit .260/.367/.496 with 23 homers in 427 at-bats. That’s not out of line with his career 840 OPS. The problem is that he’s a big liability in the outfield, and he has a history of back problems.
Washington’s current plan is to go with an outfield of Willingham, Nyjer Morgan and Dukes next year, with Adam Dunn at first base. The team has been trying to upgrade its defense, though, and Willingham’s departure could help in that regard.
Willingham is due about $5 million next season and is under control for two more years, so he’s an attractive piece. The Nationals won’t give him away like the Marlins did last year, but they should consider moving him if it’d bring in a legitimate young starting pitcher.
When the Nationals fired Matt Williams a year ago, it might’ve been a safe assumption that they were going to go with that new breed of young, handsome recently-retired player-turned-manager who, despite a lack of experience, allegedly knows how to deal with modern players better and knows how to handle a clubhouse. Those assumptions have proved largely off with these guys — Williams was a disaster, Matheny wins despite himself and Ausmus looks like he’s perpetually on the verge of a breakdown — but that’s the all the rage these days anyway.
Instead, the Nats hired Dusty Baker. Though Baker had tremendous success as a manager everywhere he went, he was maligned by some for some pitcher handling stuff in Chicago (which said pitchers have long denied was an issue, but let’s let that lie). He was also, more generally, thought of as a “retread.” Which is what people who prefer younger folks for jobs tend to call older people, even if the older people know what they’re doing.
And yes, I will cop to thinking about managers that way a lot over the years, so I’m not absolving myself at all here, even if I was pretty OK with the Dusty Baker hiring. I’ve evolved on this point. In no small part because of how Dusty Baker has done in Washington. Flash forward a year, the Nats are division champions and Baker may be a top candidate for Manager of the Year. That, in and of itself, should show you how wrong the haters were.
But if it doesn’t, this sure should:
I have no earthly idea what that means and Castillo gives no further context. All I know is that it sounds cool as hell and of any current manager, only Dusty Baker could say that and pull it off.
Because he’s Dusty Baker and has nothing to prove to you. And if you don’t like it, shoot, he’ll just go back home to his winery or whatever and live out the rest of his days being cooler than you.
With the regular season ending on Sunday and most of the playoff spots locked up, there’s really only one big thing left to argue about: postseason awards. So let’s spend some time looking at who should win each of the four major awards and who will win them. Which are often totally different things. Next up: The Manager of the Year Awards
The Manager of the Year Award is pretty dumb. Numbers aren’t everything in any award, but there are literally zero numbers that gauge a manager’s effectiveness or performance apart from wins and losses and wins and losses are mostly a function of talent on the roster, for which the manager is not responsible. This is not to say managers aren’t important. Of course they are! They make important decisions every day and keep the clubhouse running smoothly and that’s important. It just so happens to be unquantifiable and subject to anecdote and projection.
For instance, Matt Williams won the Manager of the Year Award with he Nationals in 2014. He was run out of town on a rail in 2015. Did he suddenly forget how to manage? Or did he never really know but was blessed with good fortune and better players the year before?
Joe Maddon won the award last year, in large part because the Cubs outperformed expectations. This year the Cubs are the best team around. But everyone expected them to be because of all that talent! Does that mean that Maddon’s 2015 award was fraudulent? The product of poor expectations assessment on behalf of the media? At the same time, there’s a pretty strong vibe that he won’t win it this year, so are we to say that winning between 101 and 104 games is . . . a worse job than last year? Don’t even get me started on arguments that Bruce Bochy somehow became a lesser manager this year, because I suspect — and bear with me on this — something else is going on with the Giants.
Manager of the Year has always been about narratives and expectations of people on the outside looking in who nonetheless purport to know how the manager performed his job in the most inside baseball kinds of ways. It’s poppycock. It may as well be the Golden Globes.
So, rather than just break it down the way we did the other awards, let’s just thrown this out like the big mess that it is:
Bill and Ashley say that Terry Francona should be the American League Manager of the Year. Bill’s reasoning: “The Indians went essentially the whole year without Michael Brantley and their pitching staff imploded in September. Francona deserves a lot of credit for holding the team together.”
Hey, works for me too! Let’s give it to Tito. Even if we can tell a compelling story about John Farrell and the Red Sox and even if Jeff Banister, the reigning AL Manager of the Year, improved by anywhere from 6-9 games in the standings this year over last in a division most people thought the Astros would win.
Bill says Dusty Baker, arguing that “The Nationals had all kinds of bullpen issues and Stephen Strasburg wasn’t able to pitch the final two months of the season. They could’ve easily folded but they didn’t, and I think that’s a reflection on Baker.”
Ashley says Dave Roberts. She didn’t give me her reasoning, but I bet she’d agree with me if I said “The
Nationals Dodgers had all kinds of bullpen rotation issues and Stephen Strasburg Clayton Kershaw wasn’t able to pitch for two months of the season. They could’ve easily folded but they didn’t, and I think that’s a reflection on Baker Roberts.” You could throw in some stuff about how Yasiel Puig was managed by Roberts (i.e. better, though his come-to-Jesus demotion may have been the front office’s doing). I think I’ll go with Roberts, simply because I feel like it’d be bad precedent to give it to a Nationals manager every even numbered year simply because that dang franchise is inconsistent.
What about the Cubs? Here’s Bill again:
I considered Joe Maddon of the Cubs, but the team was so good I think the Cubs could’ve had a kitten manage the team to a playoff berth.
I say we give it to a kitten. Kittens are the best.