UPDATE: Astros’ general manager Jeff Luhnow told Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle that he shouldn’t have used “drunken sailors” to describe the Rangers’ activity in Latin America. He also clarified his comments by saying that his point “was more about the magnitude of their investment prior to future limitations. Not saying it’s a bad strategy but one that many teams can’t afford.”
Hey, can’t blame the Rangers for getting while the getting is good. Luhnow would probably do the same if he was in the same spot as Daniels.
8:01 PM: The Astros and Rangers play in the same state and will soon be in the same division, but they shouldn’t exactly be considered rivals. Not yet, anyway. However, new Astros’ general manager Jeff Luhnow fired a shot across the bow earlier this afternoon in reference to the back-to-back American League champions.
Luhnow, who was in attendance for the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference at MIT, said that the Rangers are spending like “drunken sailors” in Latin America thanks to a new television contract.
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News spoke with Rangers’ general manager Jon Daniels, who responded to Luhnow’s comment by saying the following:
“I couldn’t be more proud of what our scouts and coaches have accomplished with the support of ownership. No need to respond to comments like that.”
Rangers’ president Nolan Ryan also refused to take the bait:
“I wish I had something witty to say,” Ryan said. “But my mother always told me that if I don’t have anything nice to say than to just be quiet.”
The Rangers have been pretty aggressive in Latin America over the past year, signing Cuban outfielder Leonys Martin to a five-year, $15.5 million deal last May and Dominican outfielders Ronald Guzman ($3.5 million) and Nomar Mazar ($5 million) a few months later. But they really ruffled some feathers among MLB executives earlier this week by agreeing to sign Dominican outfielder Jairo Beras for $4.5 million when many teams believed he was only 16 years old and thus ineligible to sign until July 2, which is when the new international spending cap goes into effect. The signing is currently being investigated by MLB.
On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.
Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.
The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.