The Rays need to make a decision on Hank Blalock

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hank blalock headshot rangers.jpgHank Blalock is (a) hitting 375/.435/.552 in Triple A; and (b) has the right to opt-out of his deal with the Rays and become a free agent if they don’t do something with him.  Yesterday, Scott Boras told Mark Topkin of the St. Pete Times that he’s poised to do just that:

“I would imagine that we’ll probably know something about Hank in the
next seven days. The time has come. The
time has come. He’s playing third base, obviously he’s hitting well,
he’s a young guy. The thought many teams had about players have come to fruition as
we expected in the first five-six weeks. I think a lot of people
understand Hank’s a better choice for them, so we’ll see. Obviously the
first hurdle is that Tampa Bay has to make their decision.”

He’s not wrong.  The Rays obviously don’t need a third baseman, but DH Pat Burrell isn’t hitting for squat right now and Carlos Pena is in a terrible slump and Blalock can play first base too.  Maybe the Rays think it’s too much of a jolt to team chemistry to call Blalock up to replace either of those guys, but calling him up to sit on the bench doesn’t enhance his trade value either.

The Mariners would probably trade a prospect, their moose, Ken Griffey’s pajamas and Mike Sweeney’s boxing gloves to have Blalock right now.  I’m not sure if they match up well with the Rays’ interests, of course, but I’m having a hard time seeing Tampa Bay simply let a valuable asset simply walk right now.

Max Scherzer will not be ready for Opening Day

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Ten days ago Nationals ace Max Scherzer said he’d be ready for the start of the regular season. “I’m gonna do it,” Scherzer said.

[Ron Howard from “Arrested Development” voice] — No, he’s not:

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said that Max Scherzer is not on track to be the team’s opening day starter, and will most likely open the season as the third pitcher in the rotation.

He’s still projected to make it to the opening rotation, taking the hill, most likely, on Thursday April 6 against the Marlins. At least if the schedule doesn’t slip any more.

Scherzer, as you probably know, has a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger, which has messed with his preparation and has caused him to alter his grip a bit. As of now Stephen Strasburg will get the Opening Day nod.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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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.