Monday's minor matters: Mets, Cardinals adding bench candidates

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henry blanco.jpgFOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal says the Mets and catcher Henry Blanco are close to agreeing to terms.
Blanco, 38, hit .235/.320/.382 in 204 at-bats while playing behind Nick Hundley in San Diego last season. He’s a career .228/.292/.366 hitter, but he’s always been very well regarded as a defender. It’s something of a surprise to see him land in New York. It’s hard to imagine the Mets going with an Omir Santos-Blanco pairing behind the plate, so it looks like Santos will lose his spot once the team lands a starter.
Veteran backup catcher Chris Coste told his hometown paper, the Fargo-Moorhead Forum, that he’s signed a major league deal with the Mets.
Coste hit .224/.301/.317 in 205 at-bats for the Phillies and Astros last season. He turns 37 in February and he’s never been very good behind the plate, so it’s odd to see the Mets putting him on their 40-man roster. He’s not an ideal option as a No. 2 catcher, and he probably no longer has the offensive value to be very useful as a pinch-hitter/backup first baseman/third catcher.
The Cardinals agreed to terms with second baseman Ruben Gotay on a minor league deal.
Gotay was expected to be one of the most sought-after minor league free agents after hitting .272/.429/.450 for the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A club. He’ll provide the same kind of protection for the Cardinals that Jarrett Hoffpauir would have had he not been lost to the Jays on waivers. Gotay is challenged defensively at second base, but he can play there in stints and he’s improved at third base. He might be a legitimate bench player if given the opportunity.

Max Scherzer will not be ready for Opening Day

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Ten days ago Nationals ace Max Scherzer said he’d be ready for the start of the regular season. “I’m gonna do it,” Scherzer said.

[Ron Howard from “Arrested Development” voice] — No, he’s not:

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said that Max Scherzer is not on track to be the team’s opening day starter, and will most likely open the season as the third pitcher in the rotation.

He’s still projected to make it to the opening rotation, taking the hill, most likely, on Thursday April 6 against the Marlins. At least if the schedule doesn’t slip any more.

Scherzer, as you probably know, has a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger, which has messed with his preparation and has caused him to alter his grip a bit. As of now Stephen Strasburg will get the Opening Day nod.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.