Nature abhors a vacuum and apparently baseball writers abhor a lack of news:
Mauer still has more leverage than Pat Williams on a teeter-totter,
but as negotiations have lagged, Mauer’s hesitancy to accept a
record-setting contract offer from his hometown team has made his
signing less than a sure thing and raised this previously unthinkable
“Won’t the Twins have to trade him if he refuses their best offer?” . . .
. . . a combination of modern baseball logic and Twins history
suggests that if the Twins’ decision-makers can’t sign Mauer, they will
be obligated to trade him . . . A trade could yield a closer to replace Joe Nathan and would protect
the franchise in the future from having one player on their roster
consuming 20 to 25 percent of their payroll, a formula that rarely
works in baseball.
Joe Mauer for a closer? Well, you drive a hard bargain, Twins, but I suppose Theo Epstein may bite the bullet and trade, say, Jonathan Papelbon for him. OK, Papelbon and a second or third tier minor league catcher to fill your organizational needs, but that’s his final offer.
Back here in the real world, the only thing trading Joe Mauer will “protect” the Twins from is from having to make ushers wipe down the upper deck seats before home games, what with the fact that no fans will ever show up to sit there.
The Twins are almost certainly going to sign Joe Mauer. If they don’t, they’d be better off simply letting him walk while engaging in kabuki theater to make everyone think that he was the bad guy than shipping him out for what, at this point, wouldn’t be quite the haul everyone thinks it might be.
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.
United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.
Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.
The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.