When you give a talk radio dude a column, it’s always a safe bet to assume that he’s going to use the column to advocate for things that would make his talk radio job more fun and easy. To that end I give you Bill Simonson:
I think, if the Tigers fall to 8-10 games out of first place before the end of June, Leyland and his staff should be fired. It would be a move with no risk involved. He has no contract beyond this season. If he was as highly thought of by management as some Leyland lovers think, then why wouldn’t he have years left on a deal? You can’t fire a team, but showing Leyland the door might be the move this franchise needs.
I know managers get fired simply for losing all the time, but my view of things is that, among the handful of reasons to fire a manager, a poor won-loss record, standing alone, is the dumbest reason.
You fire a manager if he makes a lot of dumb decisions. You fire a manager if he bucks the authority of the front office in a way that prevents the team from carrying out the organization’s plans. You fire a manager if he loses the confidence and respect of the players or his authority over them is otherwise undermined in such a way so as to make his continued leadership untenable. You fire a manager if the composition of the roster radically changes and you suddenly have an awful fit in terms of temperament (i.e. the old vet-friendly manager suddenly finds himself in a rebuild. You fire a manager when a new owner and/or GM comes on board and the team wants to reset.
Now, a lot of those things cause poor records, and the subsequent firing may be chalked up to the poor record. But if none of the above things are present and the team is simply losing, firing the skipper is kind of pointless. He’s the same guy the GM had confidence in before the season. He still has the clubhouse under control. All that has changed is that his players are underperforming. Absent a clear link between things the manager has done and that losing, firing him is a pointless gesture.
Leyland has done none of those things. His team is underachieving. That’s on the players. Some of the players he’s had to work with don’t really belong on a major league roster. That’s on the GM. There is absolutely nothing which suggests to me that firing Leyland would turn the Tigers around because there is nothing that suggests to me that Leyland has done much if anything to make this team lose.
Jim Leyland has managed in the big leagues for 21 seasons. He didn’t suddenly forget how to do it. And getting rid of him isn’t going to suddenly make the Tigers a better team.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.
It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.
Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.
LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.
Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.
Update (7:58 PM EST): Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart met with Cueto earlier this month in the Dominican Republic and made a contract offer that the right-hander turned down. The Diamondbacks maintain interest in the free agent.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Diamondbacks spoke with Bryce Dixon, the agent of free agent starter Johnny Cueto. However, Rosenthal notes that Cueto’s price tag is expected to exceed the Diamondbacks’ comfort level.
Cueto, 29, is one of a handful of highly touted starting pitchers in this offseason’s free agent class. He is joined by David Price and Zack Greinke, among others. Jordan Zimmermann inked a deal in the neighborhood of $110 million over five years with the Tigers on Sunday morning, which will serve as a barometer for Cueto.
Cueto finished the 2015 regular season, between the Reds and the Royals, with a 3.44 ERA and a 176/46 K/BB ratio over 212 innings. He made 13 shaky starts with the Royals, but outside of a shellacking in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, pitched well in the post-season. Cueto pitched a complete game in Game 2 of the World Series against the Mets, helping put the Royals up two games to none at the time.
As a result of switching teams during the season, Cueto was not eligible to receive a $15.8 million qualifying offer. This means that Cueto, unlike Zimmermann for example, does not come attached with draft pick compensation.
Nick Cafardo provides this interesting nugget in his Sunday notes column at the Boston Globe …
Hanley Ramirez, 1B-DH, Red Sox — There’s now talk in the front office that Dave Dombrowski is trying to move Ramirez in a deal. The Mariners, Orioles, and Angels seem to be the targets, and all three make sense.
Cafardo notes that “there are huge hurdles to cross” before a trade could happen — like how much of Hanley’s remaining salary the Red Sox would have to eat and what positions the soon-to-be 32-year-old is able to play defensively at this point in his career.
Boston’s higher-ups have asked Ramirez to learn first base and drop 20 pounds this winter. Whatever team is looking to acquire him would probably have to be comfortable with him serving primarily as a designated hitter.
Hanley is owed $68.2 million over the next three seasons and he carries a $22 million vesting option for 2019. He batted just .249/.291/.426 in 105 games this past year.