Jimmy Rollins on keeping Cliff Lee: "I guess that's just a move the Yankees do"

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Jimmy Rollins 2.jpgJimmy Rollins was on Dan Patrick’s radio show yesterday. He’s always a great interview. Very thoughtful. Despite the reputation he (unfairly) got early in his career, he’s pretty self-deprecating too. And, based on his comments when asked about why the Phillies traded Cliff Lee, very candid:

That, I have no idea. I’m sure we could afford him. We turned
nearly 4 million people through the turnstiles last year. I don’t know.
You should have (Phillies GM) Ruben (Amaro) on here . . . When the trade
happened, I actually got a text from Jayson Werth and he was like, ‘What
are we doing?’ And I was like, ‘Didn’t we get Halladay?’ And he was
like, ‘Yeah, but we traded Lee.’ And my mouth dropped like, ‘That wasn’t
part of the deal.’ I really don’t know. I thought we had enough to keep
him. I thought we could have done enough to keep him, but I guess that’s
just a move the Yankees do.

You can listen to the interview here (the Lee stuff starts at about the five minute mark). I don’t take his tone as one of complaint or second guessing, really. He defers to Ruben Amaro for the whys of it all. But you can tell that keeping Cliff Lee was his preference. Of course, it’s not like Rollins has any special insight as to whether trading him was the right move. Veterans will always, always, always prefer to keep their fellow veterans on a team over making trades that will help replenish the system with prospects.

My takeaway from this is not that Rollins is right that the Phillies should have kept Lee, necessarily, but that he seems genuinely blindsided by the deal. Makes me wonder how much the team communicates overall strategy with the players. Sure, it’s OK to be surprised the day it happens and texts start flying. But to remain surprised even a couple of months later is something else entirely.

Bryce Harper to Little League players: “No participation trophies, first place only”

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Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.

“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”

The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.

Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.

Indians to move Danny Salazar to the bullpen

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MLB.com’s William Kosileski reports that Indians starter Danny Salazar is being moved to the bullpen and will be available as soon as Wednesday or Thursday. The Indians will go on a five-game road strip starting on June 2, and manager Terry Francona said that Salazar could get a start during that trip.

Salazar, 27, has struggled to a 5.50 ERA over his first 10 starts this season. While none of those starts were absolute disasters, he failed to finish the sixth inning in seven of those 10 starts. It’s a far cry from his performance over the last two seasons, when he finished with a 3.45 ERA and 3.87 ERA.

Salazar’s walk rate is up to a career-high 11.9 percent, per FanGraphs, and he’s allowing many more line drives at the expense of ground balls. Compared to 2016, his line drive rate is up 8.9 percent and his ground ball rate is down 10.4 percent. All of that could explain Salazar’s struggles to some extent.