A’s send Kevin Kouzmanoff to Triple-A, call up Scott Sizemore

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Last week, when the A’s acquired Scott Sizemore from the Tigers and optioned him to the minors, Matthew Pouliot speculated in this space that they’d turn to him at third base if Kevin Kouzmanoff continued to struggle.

Matthew guessed it would take another couple weeks for Kouzmanoff to lose the job, but the A’s just optioned him to Triple-A … and called up Sizemore.

Kouzmanoff posted good power numbers for the Padres despite playing half his games in the majors’ most pitcher-friendly ballpark, but he’s hit just .240 with a .279 on-base percentage and .389 slugging percentage in 205 games since joining the A’s last season.

Oakland is a pitcher-friendly ballpark too, but managing just 23 homers in 743 at-bats is a surprise and Kouzmanoff has never had enough plate discipline to remain an asset if he’s not hitting for power. Sizemore has been even worse in the majors, hitting .223 with a .612 OPS for the Tigers, but that comes in a total of just 65 games and he’s hit .313 with 20 homers, 21 steals, and an .881 OPS in 179 games at Triple-A.

Oakland may try to trade Kouzmanoff, but his stock has likely dropped far enough that finding a taker for his $4.75 million salary will be tough.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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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.

 

 

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.