Jerry DiPoto

You ain’t got to lie, Jerry, you ain’t got to lie

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I interviewed two general managers at the Winter Meetings: Ned Colletti and Ruben Amaro.  It was kinda neat. They’re important people and talking to them made me feel sort of important. It was for TV, and I’m sort of liking this TV stuff.  And of course talking to guys like that — and the assistants who assist them — is a good way to learn neat things that will eventually benefit you guys.  Of course you interview those guys if they are good enough to give you a bit of their time to do it.

But I gotta tell ya: dudes like that aren’t exactly forthcoming.  I knew that would be the case before the interviews and, as the interviews were happening, I was amazed at just how smoothly and cheerfully each of them were able to tell me absolutely nothing.  Especially Amaro. I know he’s a Ninja and everything, but I had no idea that he had mastered the Jedi mind trick too.  I haven’t looked at the tape for a while, but I’m pretty sure he told me that those were not the droids I was looking for. And I nodded happily.

But while the interviews weren’t the most illuminating things ever, Colletti and Amaro were just doing their jobs. Let’s face facts: there is zero upside to them telling me something of real substance. The offseason is about the art of negotiation and the art of negotiation depends on negotiators having superior information to their adversaries. Sure, Amaro could tell me and the TV audience that he wanted nothing more in the world than to sign Dontrelle Willis, but if he had it would have made that negotiation somewhat tougher for him. Why bother?

But I will say this: at least Amaro and Colletti were honest in the information they did provide.  Even if they weren’t forthcoming, there was nothing they said that could be construed as misleading.  As Ben Lindbergh chronicles over at Baseball Prospectus today, the same can’t be said of many general managers:

Inspired by the first item on the list below, I asked the BP staff for other instances in which a GM was less than forthcoming about his plans. Here are a few examples that show why it’s best to exercise some caution before buying into everything your friendly neighborhood baseball executive says …

What follows are seven pretty hilarious instances of general managers — leading off with Jerry “we’re not gonna spend money on guys like Albert Pujols” Dipoto — saying one thing and then doing something completely different.

It’s a great read, and a great reminder to put almost zero stock in anything a guy running a baseball team says.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.