The second most shocking thing about the Vernon Wells trade — after the Angels actually agreeing to it — was the fact that it left the Blue Jays with only $17.4 million in payroll commitments for 2012. The conventional wisdom when that news started to spread was that all of that freed-up money would be used to lock up 50-homer-man Jose Bautista. If that’s the plan, it hasn’t been made operation yet, because as Jon Paul Morosi reports, the Jays haven’t even approached Bautista with an offer yet.
Not sure I would either. I’m prepared to admit that the changes in Bautista’s swing in 2010 led him to achieve a new level of homerly-goodness that he will sustain for some time, but I’m not sure I’d wager a multi-year deal on it. If I was writing the checks in Toronto, I’d like to see another season of big power from the guy before grabbing the pen. Yes, that’s a gamble too inasmuch as Bautista will be a free agent after 2011 and could go anywhere, but who’s to say this isn’t 1961 Norm Cash or 1973 Davey Johnson we’re talking about?
It may cost the Jays the couple extra million they’re going to have to pay if they lose their arbitration case. It may cause Bautista to look for employment elsewhere in 2012 if he goes crazy again. But really, I’d be loathe to give the guy a multi-year deal after what could very easily be the best year he’ll ever have.
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.
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.