Report: Mariners have “serious interest” in Raul Ibanez

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The Mariners acquired Kendrys Morales from the Angels this week in exchange for Jason Vargas, but they aren’t done trying to add bats.

George A. King III of the New York Post reports that the Mariners have “serious interest” in Raul Ibanez. It’s a bit of an odd fit on the surface, as the club already has a bit of a log jam between DH, first base and catcher, but King speculates that Jesus Montero would get the chance to be the regular catcher while Morales would play first base. Justin Smoak could become trade bait under this scenario, as Ibanez would project as the regular DH and occasional outfielder. And don’t forget the M’s also have John Jaso, who is quietly coming off a very nice season.

King hears that the Yankees have kept in touch with Ibanez’s agent, but they are currently focused on trying to add a right-handed hitting outfielder to complement Curtis Granderson, Ichiro Suzuki and Brett Gardner, who all hit from the left side. Scott Hairston remains a possibility, but they are hesitant to give him a multi-year deal.

Ibanez, 40, batted .240/.308/.453 with 19 home runs, 62 RBI and a .761 OPS in 130 games this past season. He was originally drafted by the Mariners back in 1992 and had two different stints with the big club, first from 1996-2000 and then from 2004-2008. The Rangers and Phillies are among the other clubs who have expressed interest.

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.