The Twins enter tonight’s game against the Rays 63-82, meekly doggy-paddling to the end of the regular season. They have lost six of their last eight games, including a humiliating 18-3 loss to the first-place Athletics. CEO Jim Pohlad told the media that, given the way the team has played, “it’s embarrassing to walk through the concourse”.
Pohlad promised to help GM Terry Ryan “however he wants me to help”, citing free agents as an example. However, he doesn’t intend to get involved with long-term contracts.
Via Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press:
“We would spend any amount of money in the current year, but in order to be able to spend that amount of money, you often have to obligate yourself so far out also.
“But there will be situations that will work. We’re not going to spend just for the heck of it, but, personally, I believe that could be a way to put some juice in there.”
There is an urgency, Pohlad said, to making the Twins a contender.
“We don’t want to wait,” he said. “I’m not saying we’re not going to do two- or three- or four-year contracts, but that seven-, eight-year stuff is a killer.”
It doesn’t seem like the Twins are a handful of free agents away from contention, but with their in-progress youth movement and with Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano progressing, dealing with veteran free agents on one- or two-year deals may not be such a bad idea. It certainly makes more sense than borrowing from the promising future to supplement an uncertain present.
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.
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.