The Dbacks are not worried about the 2011 All-Star Game, and they probably shouldn't be


Arizona outline.jpgThe protests against Arizona hosting the 2011 All-Star Game continue (although much more quietly this week), but the team is not at all worried:

“I’ve had absolutely no indication that we’d lose the game. In fact, I’m confident that it will stay here. I think it’s a difficult
precedent for any league to set, making decisions based upon
controversial state bills.”

That’s Dbacks’ CEO Derrick Hall, who makes a point I generally agree with, but who is seemingly forgetting that the NFL set exactly that precedent with the Super Bowl in 1993.

And when I say I agree with his point, I’m not saying that the game shouldn’t be pulled (I’m kind of agnostic on that at present) or that baseball should make some sort of statement on the immigration law.  I’m simply agreeing with the notion that, yeah, it’s pretty hard for a league to pull a marquee event like an All-Star Game just like that.

It’s a politics thing. No, not immigration politics, but internal baseball politics. The horse-trading, lobbying, interest-balancing and boot-licking (along with any number of other “ings”) that goes into granting a city an All-Star Game is of a scope so great that backtracking on one of those decisions creates a ripple effect.

If you pull the game from Arizona in 2011, you probably have to promise another one back to them once the law is changed or the heat dies down or something. That runs into the other teams who are already scheduled or are lobbying to be scheduled in the future. And then there’s the question of where to play next year, which kicks off a whole new, more urgent round of all of that stuff.

Baseball doesn’t want any part of that. For that reason, I seriously doubt that they’ll move the 2011 All-Star Game absent some major, major event like civil unrest on the streets of Phoenix or a MLBPA-sanctioned boycott of the game.  Riding out extrernal heat is much easier for them as an organization than creating new internal heat.

Orioles interested in Denard Span

Denard Span
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.

Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.

The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.

Blue Jays showing interest in Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.

Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.

Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.

After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.

Trevor Cahill considering the Pirates as a potential destination

Trevor Cahill
AP Photo/Paul Beaty

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.

It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.

Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.

Blue Jays narrow GM search to two candidates: Tony LaCava and Ross Atkins

Tony LaCava
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.

LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.

Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.