Must-Click Link: Is Brady Anderson creating problems in Baltimore?

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Brady Anderson hasn’t played in a big league game since 2002, but he has a locker in the Orioles clubhouse and dresses with the team.

Which would be fine if he were on the coaching staff and reported to Buck Showalter. But he isn’t — not exactly, anyway — and doesn’t. He’s actually the Vice President of Baseball Operations which, theoretically, makes him the second-in-command of the Orioles front office. And he’s a close confidant of Orioles owner Peter Angelos, seemingly answerable only to him.

Today Ken Rosenthal looks into Anderson’s curious role on the Orioles, and reports that it has created some friction in Baltimore. In-house everyone sings Anderson’s praises as a key member of the club, particularly with respect to strength, conditioning and nutrition, areas in which he was always ahead of the curve during his playing career and remains so. Coaches and players who have left Baltimore, however, take issue with Anderson’s alleged interference with the coaching staff and the perception that he is something of a clubhouse spy, reporting to Angelos and inserting himself into contract matters, which is not the sort of thing that people in uniform, in the clubhouse on a day-to-day basis do. Anderson denies that he plays a big role in this regard.

Where the truth lies here is likely contingent upon who is telling the story. The front office/clubhouse divide is a notoriously complicated one, with loyalties and traditions that don’t lend themselves to easy parsing. Given how much more of a role the front office has in on-the-field decisions today than it did even a decade ago, that relationship becomes even more complicated. How much of this is about that traditional divide breaking down and players reacting negatively to it? How much is it about front office overreach? It’s hard for us on the outside to know.

Either way, it’s an interesting read. And not just for what it means for Anderson and the Orioles. It tells us a lot about how clubhouses and front offices operate. Sometimes dysfunctionally.

Robinson Cano hit his 300th home run last night

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Last night Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ loss to the Texas Rangers. It was his 22nd on the season. Though it was insignificant to the outcome of that game, it was significant to Cano: it was his 300th career homer.

While we’ve become accustomed to not caring much about home run milestones south of, say, 500, 300 homers for Cano is a big deal, as he’s only the third second baseman to cross that threshold in baseball history. The other two: Jeff Kent, at 377, and Rogers Hornsby at 301.

Cano, who turns 35 next month, has a career line of .305/.354/.495 and 1,179 RBI, 512 doubles and 33 triples to go with those bombs. He’s in his 13th big league season and still has six more years left on his deal with the Mariners. He’s averaged 24 homers a year since coming to the Mariners. While he’ll obviously trail off at some point — and while great second baseman’s have this weird habit of just suddenly falling off a cliff — it’s highly likely that he’ll finish his career as the all-time home run leader among second baseman. If he remains healthy he should also get over 3,000 hits in his career.

Cooperstown, here he comes.

Reds sign catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year deal

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Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.

The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.

Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.