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Invasion of the Job Seekers

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Everyone who goes to the Winter Meetings knows who the Job Seekers are. They’re the black and navy suit-clad twentysomethings wearing badges that actually say “Job Seeker” on them. They’re there for the Professional Baseball Employment Opportunities job fair. They pay a couple hundred dollars for the privilege of applying for a shockingly small number of low-paying jobs somewhere in professional baseball. You see them sitting for interviews at various tables in and around the hotel. You see them walking around in packs, trying to get up the nerve to talk to managers, assistant general managers and broadcasters. If you’re wearing a badge of your own — like “media” — you see them look down at it as they pass you by and then quickly move on when they realize that you can’t help them become the next general manager of the Tampa Bay Rays.

I’ve always been fascinated by The Job Seekers, but I’ve never actually sat and talked to any of them at length. Jeb Lund did, however, and he wrote a wonderful story about The Job Seekers and the odds and absurdities they face over at SB Nation. The odds?

When I walk away to talk to the next guy, or girl, or the next one after that, I’m struck by how many broadly impressive resumes are here. They often have wildly divergent credentials, but all sound perfectly reasonable — insistent, almost — as qualification for any baseball job. Worse, their end goal of running a baseball team means that they are all trying to fast-track to one of only 30 such jobs in the world. To put this in perspective: There are three times as many available United States Senate positions, and the qualifications for them are vastly lower.

The absurdities? Dealing with John Kruk, for example. Or paying over $1,000 when it’s all said and done in order to maybe — maybe — grab a $17K a year internship that probably has you moving to Idaho or somewhere like it.

It’s a great read. Go check it out.

Max Scherzer still can’t throw fastballs

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals works against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.

The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.

Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.

The Dodgers asked the Tigers about Justin Verlander this offseason

DETROIT, MI - MAY 18: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches during the first inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on May 18, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.

It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.

Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.

The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.

So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.