How will Mike Lowell do in Sox camp?

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Rob Bradford of WEEI checks in from Fort Myers where he spoke with Theo Epstein about the awkwardness that will be the Mike-Lowell-in-camp dynamic:

“I don’t know that it will be that dicey. As I’ve said, it’s one of
those things that will take care of itself. Mike’s priority is our
priority, which is to get him healthy. Until that happens, there’s
really not much that can be done. He’s going to be a little bit behind
everybody else because of the surgery he had. we’re going to do
everything we can to help get him healthy. Once he gets healthy, it
will take care of itself. If he’s really impressive and impressive to
other clubs, maybe something can be worked out. If not, I’m sure
there’s nowhere else where Mike would rather take a bit of a lesser
role than here.”

That’s about as honest as an assessment as you’ll hear from a GM. Most of the time in such situations you’ll hear the front office say “we think Mike Lowell will be a big contributor, etc, etc.,” even if it’s not plausible. Maybe so that the player’s ego isn’t bruised, maybe because they think that by doing so it will make the guy a more attractive trade target.  It seems, however, that Lowell and Theo and are going to be spending this spring openly and honestly shopping the guy.

Not that it’s completely honest. Because really, does anyone think that the Red Sox want to keep Lowell on the team, riding the pine, making $12 million to be a utility guy who can’t play up the middle?  I don’t, and if the Sox can’t find a trading partner I’d be shocked if they didn’t simply cut Lowell in the interests of a more flexible bench.  I mean, its not like they’re not going to be paying most of his salary even if they trade him.

Kris Bryant wants to be Cubs’ player rep, vows to “fight” for next collective bargaining agreement

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Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.

While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”

As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”

It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.