I gotta be honest: if John Malone, the CEO of Liberty Media — owner of my Atlanta Braves — invited me to have lunch with him, I’d probably balk too. I mean, really, what would we have to talk about? Our vast land holdings? Our fights with the FCC? The awkwardness of the fact that, in all likelihood, I know far more about the Atlanta Braves than he does? I mean, sure, if I could take him to Ted’s Montana Grill and talk about its namesake like he was my ex-girlfriend, pining for the days when he ran my team it would be fun. But really, I’d probably give it a pass.
But do you do the same thing if you’re a Dodgers fan? This guy did, according to Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times:*
After all these years, Brian Gadinsky was invited to lunch with the owner of the Dodgers. And he turned it down. He turned it down for the same reason he had earlier trashed his season-ticket renewal notice, which led to the invitation in the first place. He turned it down because it would mean breaking bread with Frank McCourt, and he is done with Frank McCourt.
“My friends all asked me if I was crazy,” Gadinsky said. “I told them, no, I am just tired. … I am tired of being loyal to a man who has not returned that loyalty.”
I guess I can see that. Of course, given that this is likely the only shot Gadinsky will ever have to slip McCourt a mickey, he probably should reconsider.
*Note: Plaschke continues to be the world’s worst abuser of the one-sentence paragraph writing style. Which is almost a awful as certain diseases, so when I block quote him I compress the paragraphs for readability. Bill: don’t do this anymore. It does not add gravitas to your prose. It makes things harder to read. It tips us all off to the fact that you are tasked with filling column inches and not telling interesting stories. Which is a shame when, as you often do, you have an interesting story. Cut it out, OK?
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.