Buster Olney sought a comment from Rockies’ GM Dan O’Dowd on the Pirates hiring of former Rockies manager Clint Hurdle:
“The Pirates are getting a leader who brings a positive, passionate energy everyday, and someone who handles every situation with honesty and integrity!”
Obviously O’Dowd is not gonna bury the guy in such a situation, but whenever I read something like that I can’t help but think “then why the hell did you fire him in the first place?” The best of these ever — and it will never be topped — was when Ted Turner fired Bobby Cox during his first stint with the Braves. When asked who would be an ideal candidate to replace him, Turner said: “It would be Bobby Cox, if I hadn’t just fired him.” True story. Probably helps that Turner is as crazy as a peach orchard boar.
I know the dynamic: a team loses, and you can’t fire the players, so out goes the manager. It seems to me, however, that more teams would probably do themselves a favor if they acknowledged the limitations of a manager’s ability to make a team win by himself, found a guy who was really solid and smart and whom they could trust, and stick with him. Bruce Bochy is a good recent example. He was in San Diego a long time and has stuck in San Francisco through thick and thin too. How many organizations would have fired him after two 90-loss seasons right out of the gate? A lot, I’d wager.
My sense: fire a manager if he can no longer get along with the players or if he is failing to carry out the orders of the front office. Or, at a certain point, if the team just changes dramatically from one that is veteran-laden to one that is all kids, sure, there could be compatibility problems. But if he was the right choice at the time you hired him, and nothing about him has changed apart from the quality of players he has to manage, stick with him.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.