Amaro had his reasons for the Polanco deal. Bad reasons, but reasons all the same

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Neither Aaron, nor Matthew nor I are all that thrilled with the Polanco deal, but via Rosenthal, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. defends the length of the deal thusly:

1. “I think he’s going to be in shape — he takes care of himself.

2.
“He’s versatile, he can move around. If he’s not playing third base in
two years, maybe he can go somewhere else (on the field).

“3. “We really don’t have anybody coming in the system at third base. We’re trying to protect ourselves.

4. “I wanted to be aggressive. I like him.”

Whatever. Most ballplayers take care of themselves. They still decline with age.

And where else is Polanco going to play? Utley is at second. Rollins is at short. There are three All-Star outfielders, and even if one of them goes down, Polanco’s bat couldn’t carry, say, left field even in his best years, which are almost certainly behind him. Basically, Amaro is saying that if he can’t stick at third for the length of the deal, he’s willing to pay $6 million for an old backup infielder.

Reason number three is the reason to go after any third baseman and doesn’t justify Polanco’s deal in any way. Reason number four — I simply like the guy — is the only one that actually illuminates the deal that was made. Amaro went with his gut.

Good for him and his gut, but it doesn’t make $18 million over three years to Polanco any more justifiable.

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.