Brian McCann has been one of the biggest free agent busts of the offseason so far, hitting just .221 with a .642 OPS in 74 games for the Yankees after seven-time All-Star catcher hit .277 with an .823 OPS in nine seasons for the Braves.
To his credit McCann hasn’t pulled any punches in assessing his own performance in the first season of a five-year, $85 million contract, telling Brendan Kuty of the Newark Star Ledger:
Horrible. Hitting–you know, I feel good behind the plate. But swinging the bat, I need to get better. We’ve just got to keep grinding. I’ve got faith in myself and I think we’ll swing the bats better.
McCann hit poorly in April and May, but June was his worst month with a .198 batting average and .580 OPS.
No one should have expected McCann to collapse so suddenly at age 30, especially since he was one of the better-hitting catchers in baseball last season in Atlanta, but back in November our own Matthew Pouliot did break down why McCann was a poor bet to age well into his thirties and our own Bill Baer analyzed why calling Yankee Stadium home wasn’t going to boost McCann’s power numbers quite as much as many people expected.
Of course, the Yankees talked about how they signed McCann for his Thurman Munson-like intensity behind the plate and … well, that hasn’t changed any (and he’s thrown out a career-high 45 percent of steal attempts, at least). And now they owe him $17 million per season through 2018.
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Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.
Today the Nationals fired him following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.
Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.
His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.
Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.
Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.
Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.
At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.
However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:
That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.
Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.