I know everyone hates A-Rod and he’s history’s worst monster and everything, but I’m really struggling to see how this latest flap — let’s call it The STFU Affair — is being spun as “here goes A-Rod again!” instead of “wow, Brian Cashman was really out of line there.”
And make no mistake, that’s how it’s being spun already. I’ve yet to see the usual columnists weight in — I’m sure Lupica and the rest will have fun things to say about this, all of which portray A-Rod as the beast here — but when even the normally even-handed and sharp Mark Feinsand of the Daily News is saying “Only Rodriguez could turn a positive story into a negative one this quickly,” you know that this is going to turn into yet another “A-Rod is the worst” fest.
Which is insane to me.
A-Rod’s transgression here: tweeting that he was ready and eager to play:
No, that message had not yet been approved for release by the Yankees yet, but (a) it was already news that was being reported by papers on Monday; and (b) is not something all that unusual in baseball. We often hear of players saying X about their readiness to rehab or come off the DL or whatever while the team says Y. We saw it in Washington just this past week with Bryce Harper. We see it many times a year. It’s something which is less-than-decorous, but it’s an inside-baseball kind of thing. Team officials care about it because they like to control the messaging for understandable reasons. The media may make note of it because any player-team disconnect is newsworthy. But about zero fans care about such things in the normal course and it’s never, ever cast as some scandalous statement.
On the other hand we have a general manager of a team telling his player, through the media, to “shut the f— up.” Think about that: when has that happened in the past? Under what circumstances is it ever considered appropriate for a boss to profanely excoriate his employee, be it privately, in front of people or, as in this case, in the press? If your boss told someone in your office that you should “shut the f— up” I don’t feel like you’d say “well, I did bring this on myself.” You’d be outraged and rightfully so. Your boss would probably be reprimanded.
Put any other player in A-Rod’s shoes here and any other GM in Cashman’s and the GM would be the one under fire here, not Alex Rodriguez. It’s not that way though because A-Rod is everyone’s favorite punching bag. That’s the only reason Cashman isn’t the one being raked over the coals here, as he should be. It’s just the latest example of A-Rod Derangement Syndrome.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.