Rosenthal: to fix the Rays, contract the Pirates and Royals

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Rosenthal’s latest is a pretty by-the-numbers “oh, those poor Rays, winning ballgames but not drawing fans” thing. Until the end, anyway, which is when you can tell the exact moment he took a slug from that bottle of Old Uncle Jeb’s Small Batch Crazy Sauce:

Here’s a thought: Contraction. Not of markets, per se, though
unfortunately that would happen.

Of ownerships.

Such
a concept is sheer fantasy, highly impractical, unlikely to ever draw
commissioner Bud Selig’s support. But just think: If the Rays
played in Pittsburgh, they would pack PNC Park. If they played in
Kansas City, they would fill Kauffman Stadium.

So, stick the
Rays in Pittsburgh. Stick the A’s in Kansas City (for old time’s sake)
and leave the Bay Area for the whiny Giants.

Voila!

Instant
management upgrades for the Pirates and Royals. Twenty-eight teams,
less revenue sharing, a greater slice of the pie for all.

I’m not going to slam Rosenthal over all of this because on the most basic level I don’t think he’s serious about it. He makes the points that must be made about the state of the Rays’ franchise, but the contraction plan is kinda nuts and I’ll bet he’d freely admit that. He just wants to get people talking, and I have no problem with that.  In this way it’s much like his realignment proposal from back in February. It’s much like a lot of what I write too.

But apart from their audaciousness, Rosenthal’s posts have something else in common: they’re solutions in search of a problem.  Or at least in search of a problem large enough that it calls for such radical solutions (though it should be noted, Rosenthal obviously thinks otherwise).

Yes, the Rays have trouble drawing, and yes, that makes it harder for them, but (a) as Rosenthal himself notes, their TV ratings are improving (and TV ratings are where the real money is); and (b) it’s obviously not impacting how they’re doing on the field.  No, the Rays are never going to be on an equal financial footing with the Yankees. But no one else is either and baseball seems to be getting along just fine. Competitively speaking they’re doing quite fine, thank you.

It may not make for a big sexy column about contraction or realignment or whatever, but the work to be done to address these problems comes around the edges of the game with revenue sharing and things of that nature.  Not blowing up baseball in Pittsburgh and Kansas City.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.