Over the weekend agent Darek Braunecker made headlines and drew criticism for saying he “wouldn’t anticipate” Cliff Lee re-signing with the Mariners, with my main beef being that there’s just no need to say stuff like that six months from free agency and immediately after Lee’s first start.
Lee apparently agreed, because he quickly tried to downplay the quotes, and now Braunecker has done his best to backtrack:
I can tell you this much, based on Cliff Lee’s initial impression of the Seattle Mariners organization, the city of Seattle, the club overall … Cliff is as excited as he can be about being there. What his future holds is anybody’s guess. We don’t know. We haven’t had any substantive conversations with the organization. …
You never anticipate a deal with any club. The bottom line is we can’t anticipate any moves. But if the question is, do we anticipate Cliff not having an interest in being in Seattle long term, that would be the furthest thing from the truth. I can tell you, unequivocally, that he’s enjoyed everything about it, as we anticipated.
Without question, Cliff Lee’s primary criteria moving forward is how long and how sustainable is the high level of success for that club. That’s what Cliff Lee is looking at with this club and in hopes of being able to participate in a postseason with the Seattle Mariners. What happens from there is anybody’s guess at this juncture.
As a wise man once said: “Take it easy, Champ. Why don’t you sit this next one out, stop talking for a while.”
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.