The first manager sitdown just happened — Bobby Cox on one side of the room, Jim Riggleman on the other. You won’t be surprised to hear that I went with Cox, figuring that a chance to ask questions to the guy who has shaped and lead my favorite team since I was a teenager wasn’t one to pass up. I wasn’t alone, however, as Cox easily had three times the number of reporters around him than Riggleman did. Random Bobby Cox stuff:
- The Braves have thought about moving Chipper Jones to first base here and there, but they’ve had no discussions with him about it this winter and probably won’t. Cox admits that Jones had a bad year defensively last year, but that he should have won the Gold Glove two years ago. I guess Terry Pendleton was once a gold glover too, so at some point I suppose you have to cut off that kind of analysis.
- Is Martin Prado your starting second baseman, Bobby? “He’s gonna start somewhere.” Cox suggested that he could be an outfielder. Or a first baseman. I’d be shocked to see him start anywhere other than second, but I suppose the Braves still have holes and/or the need for leverage in negotiations with guys like Adam LaRoche.
- What about the possibility of Rafael Soriano or Mike Gonzalez accepting arbitration? “If they both accept we’ll have the best bullpen ever.” Despite this, Bobby has no idea. He does know that no matter who’s in the bullpen next year, Billy Wagner is the closer. “He’s the closer no matter what,” Cox says.
- Cox, in his last season as manager, wants no part of naming his successor. He thinks any number of guys on his staff would be good, but that’s Frank Wren’s decision, says Bobby.
- He was cagey about whether Jason Heyward would start the season on the big club. After acknowledging that he’s probably the best prospect in baseball and has a great makeup, he would only say that “we’re going to give him a chance to win a job next year.” I suppose you can’t just come out and admit that you’re going to keep a dude on the farm until you’re sure he’s not going to be a Super Two.
Lou Piniella is sitting down now. I’m going to go ask him why he’s been so unfair to Milton Bradley.
I’ve always been critical of the concept of “statement games” in Major League Baseball. Maybe it matters more in football where there are far fewer games and thus each one means much more, but in baseball a win lasts, at best, 48 hours and usually less. Like Earl Weaver said, we do this every day, lady. When you’re constantly talking, as it were, any one statement is pretty unimportant.
I’ll grant that a “statement win” is a thing players use to motivate or validate themselves, of course. We on the outside can roll our eyes at the notion, but we can’t know the minds of a major league player. If they think that they made a statement and it’s important to them, hey, it’s important to them. I’ll admit, however, that a statement loss is a new one to me:
Kolten Wong provided the basis of that headline. Here is what he said:
“I think we still made a statement. We were down 6-1 right off the bat. The game before, we were kind of in the same situation. We were tired of it,” second baseman Kolten Wong said. “Our pitchers have been our go-to these past few years. It was time for us to step up and I think we all kind of felt that, too. We just wanted to make this a game and show that we have our pitchers’ backs.”
In context it makes sense. A moral victory, as it were. They got to one of the best pitchers in the game after finding themselves down by several runs thanks to their starting pitching betraying them. The hitters didn’t go into a shell when most folks would excuse them for doing so against a guy like Jake Arrieta.
Makes sense and no judgments here. Moral victories matter. Still, it’s hard not to chuckle at the headline. I can’t remember a big leaguer talking quite that way after a loss.
The Dodgers have been mulling this for a long time, but they just announced that they plan on calling up top prospect Julio Urias. He’ll be making his major league debut against the Mets tomorrow evening in New York.
Urias is just 19 years-old, but he’s shown that he’s ready for the bigs. In eight Triple-A games this year — seven starts — he’s 4-1 with a 1.10 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 44/8 in 41 innings. He has tossed 27-straight scoreless innings to boot. While the Dodgers and Urias’ agent are understandably wary of giving the young man too much work too soon, he has nothing left to prove at Oklahoma City.
Urias turns 20 in August. Tomorrow night he will become the first teenager to debut in the majors since 2012 when Dylan Bundy, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Jurickson Profar each made their debuts.
Richard Dietsch of Sports Illustrated reports that Fox officials asked Vin Scully if he wanted to work the All-Star Game, be it calling the full game, doing an inning, making a guest appearance or whatever. Scully, though appreciative, said no thanks.
We’ve been over this, but for however much it might make people happy for Scully to make this kind of national appearance, there’s nothing in his history or in his apparent nature that would make such a thing appeal to Scully. For as much as an institution he has become, he still thinks of himself as an employee who calls Dodgers games, goes home and that is that. He has shown considerable discomfort, however politely he has communicated it, at being treated as something different or more special than that. And that’s before you remember that (a) it would be a totally different setup for him which would require a lot of extra work; and (b) the All-Star Break is a time when most baseball people take a couple of days off.
As I said the last time we discussed this, if baseball at large wants to give Scully some sort of national sendoff, the best bet would be for the powers that be to figure out how to get the final Dodgers games of the season nationally televised without blackout restrictions. That way we can all watch him doing his thing, in his element, for a final time without it being gimmicky.
We wrote recently that the hoodie Brad Ausmus was wearing during his May 16th ejection from a Tigers game was up for auction. Ausmus removed the hoodie during his little rant and draped it over home plate, fomenting both an ejection and a suspension. For what it’s worth, the Tigers are 6-2 since the incident, so go Ausmus Rage.
Anyway, the auction for the hoodie has closed and a winning bid declared. The bid: $5,010. The proceeds will go to the Tiny Tigers t-ball program funded by the Detroit Tigers Foundation and the Detroit Police Athletic League.
Who says rage is a negative emotion?