NBC SportsTalk: Should Bud Selig block the Marlins-Blue Jays trade?

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I’ve seen some random writing on the Internet and heard some random chatter on talk radio about the possibility of Bud Selig stepping in and blocking the Marlins-Blue Jays trade on some “best interests of baseball” grounds. But let’s be clear about this: he won’t do it, and he probably shouldn’t.

Let’s take the “shouldn’t” first: He shouldn’t because there are situations where a trade that looks exactly like this one from a baseball perspective — a massive payroll dump for some young cheap talent — is legitimate for a team that wants to jump-start a rebuilding project. If you have expensive veterans and you’re not going anyplace, the best way to deal with it is to get rid of the expensive veterans. Cut ’em if you have no other choice, but if you can get a return for them, go for it, start fresh and move on.

The thing that makes this particular trade odious cannot be seen on the paper setting forth the terms of the transaction. The deal itself is not so unorthodox or insane that it requires intervention.  Rather, it is the background of Jeff Loria and the Marlins and the b.s. and baloney he has dumped on Marlins fans and the city of Miami for a decade that makes this all so vile, and that’s all outside of the terms of the deal.

That leads to the reason why Bud Selig won’t block this trade, even if there were other good reasons to do it.  He won’t do it because Selig stepping into this mess would represent rank hypocrisy.  Baseball rewarded Loria for killing a franchise in Montreal. Baseball for years allowed Loria to pocket revenue sharing money rather than use it on his team to make them better and, if their financial documents hadn’t been leaked to Deadspin, likely still would allow it.  Baseball has strongly encouraged owners to blackmail cities into building them publicly-funded stadiums. Indeed, it has actively discouraged efforts by owners to pay for their own ballparks.

Baseball will not block or, I presume, even criticize this trade because it is the logical product of the incentive system it itself has created. The way Loria has built up hope, taken taxpayer money and then trashed his team and crapped on his fan base may be rather extreme and possibly even disturbing for the people in the Commissioner’s Office, but given the way Loria has been incentivized for the past 10-15 years, it should not be shocking to them.  And for Major League Baseball to now, after all of this time, step in and object to the way Jeff Loria is mismanaging his franchise, would be a repudiation of policies that it has long encouraged among the ownership class, and if there is one thing that Bud Selig doesn’t do it’s reverse himself when it comes to this kind of stuff.

I was on NBC SportsTalk with Erik Kuselias last night and we talked about this a bit:

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Miguel Cabrera has two herniated discs in his back

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Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera underwent an MRI which revealed two herniated discs in his back, MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports. With six games remaining in the season, if Cabrera plays again, it will be as a designated hitter.

The back issues shed a lot of light on Cabrera’s uncharacteristically subpar season. He’s batting .249/.329/.399 with 16 home runs and 60 RBI in 529 plate appearances this season. He carries an adjusted OPS of 92, which is eight points below the league average and 14 points below his previous career low set in 2003 with the Marlins.

Cabrera, 34, is signed through 2023 and is owed a minimum of $192 million through the end of his contract.

MLB managers weigh in on anthem protests

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No other Major League Baseball player has taken a knee during the National Anthem since Athletics’ catcher Bruce Maxwell‘s protest on Saturday night. The demonstration was sparked by President Donald Trump’s call for the boycott of the National Football League and the firing of any player who chose not to stand during the anthem. The comments drew harsh criticism from many NFL players, coaches and owners and more than a few in MLB have also lended their support. There is still one game left to play on Sunday, but it’s unclear whether any of Maxwell’s league-mates will show their solidarity by refusing to stand as well.

Given a baseball culture that tends toward conformity more often than not, it seems unlikely. But it’s something league managers are prepared for — even if they don’t all agree with the demonstrations themselves.

White Sox’ skipper Rick Renteria specifically addressed Maxwell’s protest on Sunday, speaking to the league’s policy of inclusivity:

None of the White Sox knelt prior to their series finale against the Royals. Neither did members of the Pirates or the Cardinals, though St. Louis manager Mike Matheny and Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington both weighed in on the situation.

Matheny called the president’s comments “hurtful” and, like the Cubs’ Joe Maddon, appeared content to leave the decision to protest up to each player.

The Pirates, meanwhile, took a firmer tone. “We appreciate our players’ desire and ability to express their opinions respectfully and when done properly,” GM Huntington told Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “When done appropriately and properly, we certainly have respect for our players’ ability to voice their opinion.”

Just what the Pirates consider “appropriate and proper” protocol was left up in the air, and club president Frank Coonelly offered no further insights in a separate statement to the press. Setting strict parameters for players to voice their opinions kind of puts them in a gray area, one they’ll have to clear up should someone elect to protest in the days to come, either with a bent knee and a hand over their heart or in some other fashion.

Equally ambiguous were comments from Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts, who claimed to oppose the movement for personal, if misguided reasons, but also respected the right of his players to make an “educated” statement in protest.

The Indians’ Terry Francona took what was perhaps the most balanced approach of the entire group:

“It’s easy for me to sit here and say, ‘Well, I think this is the greatest country in the world,’ because I do,” Francona told MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. “But, I also haven’t walked in other people’s shoes. So, until I think, not just our country, but our world, until we realize that, hey, people are actually equal — it shouldn’t be a revelation — and the different doesn’t mean less. It’s just different. We’ve got work to do.”

These may all be moot points. Maxwell may be the only player to formally protest Trump’s comments, despite the good intentions of his teammates and fellow players around the league. Others may feel too ambivalent, threatened or uncomfortable to protest what the A’s catcher referred to as a “racial divide,” especially in a way that is routinely perceived as unpatriotic.

Even if the protests made by NFL players and Bruce Maxwell fail to gain momentum, however, the underlying issues they speak to are not going away anytime soon. Here, then, is where MLB managers can help foster a more inclusive environment throughout the league, not only by showing respect for a player’s decision to stand against racism but by actively partnering with those who do so. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a start.