Clint Hurdle had to know what a tough job he was taking when he agreed to manage the Pirates. They’d had 18 straight losing seasons and during that time six other managers had tried and failed to turn things around.
Hurdle probably thought he could do what the six before him couldn’t and if not at least he’d be earning around $1 million per year. What he likely didn’t count on was that the mainstream media in Pittsburgh might turn on him three weeks into the job.
Andrew McCutchen made the final out of last night’s loss to the Nationals by unsuccessfully tagging up from third base on a fly out to right field. His run would have merely cut the deficit from 6-3 to 6-4, yet afterward Hurdle declined to blame McCutchen for making a tactical mistake.
Instead he opined that “the only reason that we’re asking that question is because he was out … I bet everybody in the ballpark including [the media] thought we were going to send him.” Or as Pittsburgh Post Gazette columnist Bob Smizik put it, Hurdle “took a small first step toward damaging his credibility in Pittsburgh” and “spoke nonsense.”
Here’s more from Smizik:
If Hurdle really believes that, he’s not as smart as he’s been given credit for being. … It’s baseball 101 and Hurdle knows it. He compounded his malarkey with the following: “That’s going to win us more games than it’s going to cost us.” …
First of all, stupid baseball, which is what the play was, is not going win more games than it loses. There was no reason–none–to send McCutchen and Hurdle and Leyva know that. Playing aggressively is admirable. But it’s a fine line between being aggressive and being reckless. McCutchen’s play was reckless, particularly since he challenged such a strong throwing arm. If Hurdle is trying to set a tone, he’s setting the wrong one. He’s setting a tone for stupid baseball, not aggressive baseball. … And if Hurdle wants to maintain a semblance of credibility, he shouldn’t treat the fans like they don’t understand the game.
It’s a very long rant, so I had to cut out some sections for the sake of brevity, but you get the idea.
Earlier this week Tigers GM Al Avila said that his club was going to get “lean” and “efficient” and that their days of spending big money are over. Later in the week Avila said that they would not likely offer a long term contract to outfielder J.D. Martinez, who will become a free agent after the 2017 season.
None of those comments necessarily suggested that the Tigers would be conducting a fire sale or anything, and it’s certainly possible to get leaner while still competing. One would assume that the Tigers could cut fat in the middle but still head into battle with their superstars. But that may not be the plan. Buster Olney:
. . . the message being received from the rest of the industry is a dramatic shift for one of baseball’s oldest franchises: They will listen to trade offers on everybody.
Miguel Cabrera. Justin Verlander. Ian Kinsler.
Trading those guys would be a pretty big deal. In both senses of the term.
It would take a blockbuster-sized deal to move such players. Verlander is owed $28 million a year for the next three seasons and has a vesting option for 2020 at $22 million. Cabrera just finished the first year of an eight-year, $248 million deal that will be paying him more than $30 million a year between 2018 and 2023, with an $8 million buyout for 2024. And that’s before the fact that both Verlander and Cabrera are 10/5 guys with full no-trade protection if they choose to exercise it. Beyond that Kinsler is a relative bargain at $11 million in 2017 and a $10 million club option for 2018 with a $5 million buyout. Victor Martinez and Justin Upton are hanging around too.
But for as big a trade would have to be if any one of those guys were dealt, it’d be a bigger deal in terms of team philosophy and direction. Cabrera has confirmed his Hall of Fame credentials in his nine years in Detroit. He’s the best player to wear the English D since Al Kaline and has been the biggest star in the organization for most of a generation. Verlander is nearly as important and nearly as famous. I don’t think it’s likely the Tigers will move either of them because the logistics of such deals would be mind-boggling, but even entertaining deals for these guys would alter the course of the franchise for years and years to come. It happens to every franchise eventually, but I don’t think the Tigers fan base is prepared for it to happen to them yet.
Still: the free agent market is thinner that it has been at any time in years and years. Cabrera and Verlander, if they could be had, would be the biggest splashes any team looking to improve could possibly acquire. Kinselr would be a big get for anyone as well. Al Avila knows that. Even if he’s not ready to part with his superstars, he probably owes it to his organization to at least listen.
Major League Baseball just announced the broadcast schedule for both Games 6 and 7 (if necessary) of the NLCS and the entire World Series.
There are no surprises here. The World Series games are all on Fox. The pregame show starts at 7:30 and the games themselves start just after 8pm Eastern Daylight Time, regardless of whether it’s Chicago or Los Angeles representing the National League. For some reason Game five of the World Series, scheduled a week from Sunday if it comes to pass, starts seven minutes later than all of the other games. Maybe something super exciting will happen then.