Report: Ryan Madson, Francisco Rodriguez will decline arbitration

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Although the market for relievers seems in serious decline, especially in light of the Blue Jays’ trade for a closer and the Rockies’ struggles in giving Huston Street away, neither Ryan Madson or Francisco Rodriguez have any plans to accept arbitration offers, according to MLB Network’s Peter Gammons.

Madson and K-Rod would be very interesting cases in arbitration, given how rarely free agents actually test the process. Madson made $4.5 million last season and would surely command a significant raise, though with just one season of closing experience, he might have a difficult time persuading a panel to award him the $9 million-$10 million he figured to earn in his first season of a new multiyear deal. K-Rod made $11 million last season, and considering that he finished with a fine 2.64 ERA in 71 2/3 innings, it’d be hard to argue he deserves much of a paycut.

Of course, if they did accept arbitration, it’d be to serve as setup men in 2012, something that could hurt their market as they reenter free agency next year. The Phillies signed Jonathan Papelbon to close, and K-Rod wasn’t happy last year after becoming an eighth-inning guy in front of John Axford.

Madson, at least, will still get his money in a multiyear deal. Even though the market for closers appears very limited at the moment, someone will step up and offer him at least Heath Bell money (three years, $27 million).

Rodriguez isn’t likely to be as fortunate, and his best move financially would almost certainly be to take the Brewers up on their offer. Of course, since he’s already made $55 million as a major leaguer, he can afford to take less and be happy elsewhere.

Max Scherzer will not be ready for Opening Day

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Ten days ago Nationals ace Max Scherzer said he’d be ready for the start of the regular season. “I’m gonna do it,” Scherzer said.

[Ron Howard from “Arrested Development” voice] — No, he’s not:

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said that Max Scherzer is not on track to be the team’s opening day starter, and will most likely open the season as the third pitcher in the rotation.

He’s still projected to make it to the opening rotation, taking the hill, most likely, on Thursday April 6 against the Marlins. At least if the schedule doesn’t slip any more.

Scherzer, as you probably know, has a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger, which has messed with his preparation and has caused him to alter his grip a bit. As of now Stephen Strasburg will get the Opening Day nod.

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.