Thankfully, managers are chosen by a general manager and team owners and stuff and not by player referendum. Because if that were the case, it would be pretty awkward in Nats Land these days. Sarah Kogod reports that Jayson Werth is pro-Cal Ripken as the next Washington manager while Ryan Zimmerman is behind bench coach Randy Knorr.
I really don’t get the Ripken love. He’s basically pulling the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar thing, right? Wishing he was a manager and having people say it’s a good idea because he’s famous and was a good player while not having done the first thing that normally prepares one to be a manager like coach or work in the minor leagues or what have you? Maybe he’s a hell of a guy. Maybe he’d be a good manager. But being a good player is a totally different thing than being a good manager. Don Mattingly worked an apprenticeship under Joe Torre. Jim Leyland worked his way up. Farrell too. I guess Mike Matheny took the fast track, but he was always talked about as a coach-type even when he played.
It’s not about paying dues, even. It’s about seeing the game from a different perspective than you would as an individual player. Ripken hasn’t really ever done that. And nothing about his color commentary this playoff season suggests that he has any deeper insight into the game than guys who have actually managed and coached. Maybe Ripken’s fame and superior abilities as a player is enough for Werth and other Ripken people. I just can’t see how that would, in and of itself, translate into a good manager.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.
The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.
St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.
The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.
Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?
Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.