Sometimes it’s tempting to look back at former Commissioner Fay Vincent and think about what things would be like if there still were a fully independent Commissioner as opposed to one who came up through ownership like Selig did and one who truly sees the best interests of the game as his highest duty as opposed to the best business interests of the owners.*
But then Vincent — who is always available for an interview, it seems — says stuff like this when asked about what he’d think of Mark Cuban as a baseball owner:
“I don’t think Mr. Cuban’s been an easy partner or owner for David Stern, and that would put me on my guard if he were to come to baseball … The rules are the rules. I think this enormous criticism — the screaming about officials, the kinds of things that got him fined by David — those are not actions of a sensible, responsible owner. I mean winning is not everything, and I’m afraid for some of these owners they get so carried away with winning they believe that’s the objective.”
Whatever, Fay. While troubling on some level, Cuban’s antics are basically a p.r. problem, not a threat to the game. And I would suggest you ask Mavericks fans — or Dodgers fans or fans of other poorly run teams — what, exactly, is more important to them than winning? And then ask yourself where the game would be if every owner had as his first loyalty the kind of harmony you’d like to see rather than putting together teams that win championship hardware.
*Though, to be fair, that approach is not necessarily bad even if it sounds like it is. There’s nothing written in stone that says the Commissioner has to be a statesman. He merely has to keep the game healthy, and Selig has done that, mostly because the best interests of owners have a lot of overlap with the best interests of the game. But now we’re getting into another conversation.
After letting rumors of the deal percolate for the last week, the Athletics officially announced their two-year, $11 million contract with right-hander Santiago Casilla on Friday (and threw a little bit of shade at the Giants, too). As previously reported, the contract includes an extra $3 million in performance bonuses.
Casilla, 36, got his major league start with Oakland back in 2004, racking up a 5.11 ERA and four saves over six seasons in the A’s bullpen. After picking up a minor league deal with the Giants in 2010, the righty flitted in and out of the closing role with varying degrees of success. Notwithstanding a slight downturn in his production rate during the 2016 season, he earned 123 saves and a 2.42 ERA during the past seven years in San Francisco. Securing another closing role might be a little tougher across the Bay, however, with a bullpen that includes fellow closers Ryan Madson, Ryan Dull and Sean Doolittle.
Why is this man smiling? Man, I wouldn’t be smiling if I read what I just read.
This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility.
For the second straight year, Law ranks the Braves as the best system in baseball. Number two — making a big leap from last year’s number 13 ranking – is the New York Yankees. Dead last: the Arizona Diamondbacks, which Law says “Dave Stewart ritually disemboweled” over the past two years. That’s gotta hurt.
If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone.