People’s mileage tends to vary on Tony La Russa. No one denies his success, but he does get criticized for his style.
For example, he’s been accused of cultivating that whole “I am a baseball genius” thing, which grinds folks’ gears. In fairness it isn’t anything he’s ever explicitly said, of course. It’s just an inference many have made based on watching him over 30 years or however long he’s been around. How much of that is a part of his personality and how much of that is merely our defensive reaction upon watching someone who, to be honest, could very well be smarter than his peers is an interesting question.
But whatever the truth of the matter is, La Russa is capable of some humble perspective. Like he showed in this interview with Marc Topkin of the St. Pete Times, when asked about his massive victory total:
From the White Sox to the A’s to the Cardinals, I have never not had the good fortune of the ownership and the front office and the players. If you ask (Rays adviser) Don Zimmer right now to put a hand on the Bible, or a Racing Form, and you say, you’re going to tell me if Jim Leyland had been in Chicago, Oakland and St. Louis, he’d probably tell you — and I would agree — that he’d have more wins than I have. Or Jim would have the 2,000 and I would have the 1,000. So when you look at the good fortune of the organizations, and you look at your friends and your peers, it’s tough to take (the success) personally. You appreciate the good fortune and leave it at that.
The rest of the interview is pretty interesting too, particularly his take on PEDs and the Hall of Fame. Worth a read on a slow day.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.