Shane Victorino softens stance on demand for five-year deal

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One day after saying he wanted a five-year contract extension from the Phillies free agent-to-be Shane Victorino backtracked a bit, telling Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer: “I made it seem like I want a five-year deal, but I’d love to stay.”

Most of all, Victorino said, he’d like to get a new contract figured out “now rather than later” and “that’s what the basis of this whole thing is.”

Jimmy Rollins talked about wanting a five-year deal from the Phillies before eventually accepting a three-year, $38 million offer and based on Victorino’s comments it wouldn’t be shocking to see him do something similar. Of course, Victorino is two years younger than Rollins and has also gotten better with age, whereas the shortstop peaked in his late-20s like most players.

Victorino revealed that his agent has yet to engage in formal negotiations with the Phillies, but “is going to reach out to them” soon in the hopes of getting something done before Opening Day. He noted Torii Hunter and Aaron Rowand as comparable center fielders who signed five-year deals, with Hunter getting $90 million from the Angels and Rowand getting $60 million from the Giants.

Among all center fielders during the past three seasons Victorino ranked sixth in OPS (right behind Hunter) and fifth in Wins Above Replacement (right ahead of Hunter). Because the Phillies have so many other star players Victorino has probably been somewhat underrated, although that doesn’t necessarily mean signing him to a five-year deal that runs through his age-36 season would be a smart move.

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.

 

 

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.