Author: Craig Calcaterra

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke delivers against the San Diego Padres during the second inning of a baseball game Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Zack Greinke officially opts out of his contract


USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that Dodgers starter Zack Greinke has officially opted out of his contract.

This is not a surprise. The deal he’s foregoing would’ve paid him $71 million over the next three years or an average of $23 million and change a year. That’s a few million below what elite starters such as Jon Lester, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander and some other pitchers make and lower than a guy who just put up a season in which he went 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA and will finish someplace in the top three of the Cy Young voting could make on the free market.

Not that he’ll be on the free market for long or, for that matter, that he has any intention of leaving Los Angeles. Like CC Sabathia did with the Yankees and his opt-out a couple of years ago, this is more likely a took for negotiation than a method of escape. By all accounts Greinke likes pitching in Los Angeles and, by any objective measure, the Dodgers would be screwed without him.

Figure that, by exercising the opt-out, Greinke will guarantee himself anywhere from $125-150 million, which is a nice little raise over what he’s making now.

Is Dave Roberts the frontrunner for the Dodgers’ managerial job?

Dave Roberts

When the Dodgers got rid of Don Mattingly it was initially assumed that it was Gabe Kapler’s job to lose. It may still be, but if the Dodgers do move Kapler from the front office to the dugout, it won’t be before a fairly lengthy interview process. Kapler, Darin Erstad, Dave Roberts, Tim Wallach, Dave Martinez, and Ron Roenicke have all been mentioned as candidates under consideration in Los Angeles, and several of them have already interviewed.

This morning Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke says that Dave Roberts is actually the frontrunner. Plaschke says Roberts “aced the interview, and he’s now apparently the favorite.” Plaschke doesn’t have a specific source for that (he makes allusions to ownership sentiment later) but there is no basis for doubting him. The Kapler stuff has only been discussed in media circles, the Dodgers haven’t publicly tipped their hand at all, Roberts is qualified for the job, has a history in Dodger Blue and has been through the interviewing gauntlet before. It’s not hard to picture him as a finalist for this job and, perhaps, the favorite at the moment.

But what is dubious in Plaschke’s column is the false construct he has created in order to compare Roberts — who Plaschke clearly favors — and Kapler, of whom he appears to not be the biggest fan. Specifically, he casts Roberts as a straightforward baseball man — he even calls him “gritty” — and Kapler as a “clone” of Baseball Operations President Andrew Friedman. He says “This also doesn’t mean Kapler wouldn’t be a palatable hire if they surrounded him with strong baseball folks, although he seems better suited for the front office.”

Kapler, of course, played twelve seasons in the majors and fifteen years total in professional baseball. He has even managed before, serving as the skipper for the Red Sox low-A affiliate. While that’s not the longest and richest resumé in the history of the world, it certainly doesn’t justify being cast as some sort of non-baseball side of a dichotomy with Dave Roberts, whose tenure as a professional player is almost identical to that of Kapler’s and who has not managed (Roberts has coached for five seasons, of course).

I have no idea if Kapler would be a good hire. Indeed, the Dodgers may very well decide not to hire him believing, as Plaschke says, that he’s best suited for a front office role. But I do not understand how one can cast him as some sort of baseball outsider who would need baseball man training wheels in order to handle the job. My sense is that, as has happened so often in the past, Plaschke is trying to cast himself in opposition to an analytically-based executive in Friedman by casting anyone aligned with him as some tool of the spreadsheet set who is somehow not qualified to wear a uniform. It’s his schtick and it pays his bills, so maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise.

It just seems to me that, in Kapler, he picked an odd target for his usual ammunition:

Baseball was, indirectly, on several ballots last night

Large Flag

Off-year elections are more than just a chance for you to get into a voting booth, realize you don’t know anything about the candidates for your local school board, city council and municipal court and to vote based on whose name sounds the coolest. I mean, yes, I voted for a guy named “Justman” yesterday because that’s a pretty great public service name, but that’s not the entire point of election day. It’s merely an ancillary benefit.

No, the real good stuff in off-year elections are the ballot initiatives. Here in Ohio we had one that would have legalized marijuana. Well, sorta. It was complicated as it was more aimed at giving a small handful of select, politically-connected businesses a monopoly on weed production and distribution, but as is the case with baseball, I suppose the best way to ensure the success of capitalism is to establish state-granted monopolies which allow for no competition whatsoever.

Speaking of baseball, there were a handful of items on ballots across the country which impacted the National Pastime yesterday. Over at Baseballot Nathaniel Rakich breaks down the initiatives and the results.

Short version: the Rays owners got some potential allies on the St. Pete City Council, the Giants were given an OK to go into the real estate business, Texas said OK to some gambling at the ballpark and Lance Berkman’s wife and daughters are now, thankfully, safe from a threat that, while 100% imaginary, has now been neutralized via turning a class of people into second-class citizens.

God Bless America.

St. Louis newspaper asks if the Royals are better than the Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals fans

There was a big victory parade in Kansas City today for the Word Champion Kansas City Royals. The Cardinals season ended three weeks ago with a loss to the Cubs in the NLDS. One would think that that would be enough to make the question of “who is better, the Royals of the Cardinals?” pretty irrelevant.

One would be wrong to think that, however, because this ran at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s website today:

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It’s not some snarky, wound-licking sour-grapes-inspired “well, it’s still cooler to be a Cards fan” thing. That may have been kinda funny actually. No, this is an actual position-by-position breakdown, the sort of which you might see just before a World Series matchup as opposed to the day after the season ended.

For the record, the writer believes that the Royals are better and does not simply rely on “scoreboard!” reasoning. So, whatever one thinks of the exercise — I choose to think of it as constituent service by some savvy Post-Dispatch editors who know that there’s a segment of Cards fans who need to reassure themselves that the Cardinals are still THE BEST — one cannot claim it was less-than-straight up in its execution.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be searching the archives for the article the PD ran in 2006 asking what teams were better than the 83-win Cardinals squad which won the World Series. I’ll let you know when I find something.

Three minor leaguers suspended for drugs


The season is over but the discipline of evil doers never ends. MLB just announced the suspension of three minor leaguers. One of them has a touch of major league experience. If you guess correctly, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a year’s supply of Stanozolol*

First up on our walk of shame is Atlanta Braves pitcher Steve Borkowski has received a 68-game suspension for testing positive for a metabolite of Stanozolol. He is currently on the roster of the rookie-level Danville Braves of the Appalachian League.

Next up is Chicago Cubs outfielder Adron Chambers has received a 50-game suspension for a second positive test for a drug of abuse. He is currently on the roster of the Iowa Cubs of the Pacific Coast League.

And, finally, San Francisco Giants pitcher Alvaro Diaz has received a 25-game suspension following “a violation of the Program.”  He is on the roster of the rookie-level Arizona League Giants.

*Note: this offer is void to all persons