Craig Calcaterra

Brad Penny

Brad Penny announces his retirement


Gregor Chisholm of reports that Brad Penny is retiring.

The Blue Jays had signed the veteran right-hander to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. He appeared in three games, allowing three runs on eight hits in five innings so far this spring. He obviously felt like didn’t have anything left, and the results seemed to confirm it.

Penny last saw big league action making a handful of appearances with the Marlins in 2014. He had thrown a grand total of 54 innings in the majors dating back to 2012. He lost a bid for a rotation spot with the White Sox last spring and spent the entire 2015 season in Triple-A, posting a 4.46 ERA and 81/33 K/BB ratio over 135 1/3 innings. So, yeah, it was time.

Penny finishes his career with a record of 121-101 and a 4.29 ERA (ERA+ of 99) in a respectable 14-year career with the Marlins, Dodgers, Cardinals, Giants, Red Sox and Tigers.

Happy trails, Brad.

Adam LaRoche could file a grievance against the White Sox


There are still a lot of unanswered questions in the whole Adam LaRoche retirement story. One I continue to wonder about is whether, contrary to the official story, White Sox players actually brought private complaints to Ken Williams over Drake LaRoche’s presence in the clubhouse. As of now Ken Williams is wearing it all, saying it was entirely his decision to ask LaRoche to bring his son less often, but as I have discussed in other posts, that doesn’t really add up. Either way, I find that angle of it more interesting than general “what do we think of kids in the clubhouse?” talk, which seems sort of beside the point.

Another interesting angle: whether LaRoche might file a grievance against the Sox over how all of this went down. That possibility is discussed in this article from Andy McCullough, who spoke with MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark about the matter. The details are vague — because the entire situation is still vague — but the upshot would be that a team action and a possible reneging on a deal to allow Drake LaRoche in the clubhouse may or may not have pushed a player into forfeiting $13 million and that’s the kind of thing the union worries about, as it should.

Was there was a “deal” about LaRoche’s son’s presence in place? A report from Dave Kaplan of yesterday said there was and the Twitter account of Adam LaRoche’s company suggested that was the case, but there are obviously more questions. Was it a handshake deal or is there contractual language? Was it broad, saying “sure, your son can come to the clubhouse whenever you want him to” or was there room for Ken Williams to ask LaRoche to dial it back? Whatever the case, it’s important to remember that, even if there was no actual contractual language about any of this, LaRoche could still have a case, as Eugene Freedman — who is a labor lawyer — notes over at Baseball Prospectus. When it comes to employment arbitration, customs and practices and expectations matter, not just the language in a contract.

While it’s possible that all of the emotions here die down soon and LaRoche comes back to the team (his retirement papers have not been processed) my guess is that the end game of all of this is LaRoche carrying on with his retirement and a settlement between LaRoche and the White Sox being reached in which he’s given a portion of his 2016 money. It’s doubtful that anyone involved here really wants to have a full-blown arbitration involving LaRoche’s son and internal clubhouse policy.

Especially if players did complain to Williams about it, which would likely be revealed in the arbitration.

Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro: “You’ll never see us do a player option”

Mark Shapiro

Mark Shapiro’s tenure in Cleveland was successful in some respects. They never won a championship, but they rarely if ever put truly awful teams on the field. There were and, since he left continue to be, business challenges with respect to attendance and local support. But the general sense of things is that he was a good businessman running the Tribe and that he made the most of what they had.

The knock on Shapiro was that when the club was good he was unwilling to spend extra to make it great. To put it over the top. Whether that was his choice or the task he was given by ownership, the feeling among Indians fans was always that Shapiro is willing to do anything to win and could be pretty savvy at making moves to do it, but only as long as it didn’t hurt the profitability of the Cleveland Indians.

When the Blue Jays hired Shapiro there were a lot of worried Blue Jays fans. Indeed, right after he came on board general manager Alex Anthopolus resigned after he was allegedly given a tongue-lashing by Shapiro for trading prospects for David Price and spending too much money. Never mind that, you know, it worked and the Blue Jays made the playoffs for the first time in 22 years, electrifying the fan base. Would Shapiro’s cost-cutting and cost-avoidance m.o. from Cleveland continue up north?

It’s probably too early to say, but Shapiro said something while on a radio show today that will probably give Jays fans pause:

I haven’t heard the entire interview and, from what I am told by people who did, Shapiro backed off a little bit saying later that he wouldn’t do this “8 of 10 times” or words to that effect. I’m told he also said that he meant straight player options and not opt-outs, though straight player options at the end of contracts aren’t terribly common. They tend to be vesting options or mutual options. Given that this came up in the context of a Jose Bautista deal and that, given its possible size and significance, the discussion about such a deal would likely include opt-outs, it’s hard to say what sort of line in the sand, exactly, Shapiro was drawing here.

But I keep looking at that word “never” in his quote. And I can’t help but think that a “never” or even an “8 of 10 times” approach on any aspect of a player contract is unwise. There is not an unlimited supply of elite players in baseball and there are not so many deals done that it’s impossible to do them absent some pre-set philosophy regarding what is and what is not, as a matter of principle, acceptable to a team. You do X for one player, you do Y for another. The circumstances can change everything. The player’s age. His skills. His position. Going through life with one hand tied behind your back — or going out of your way not to use one of your hands as a general disposition — seems pretty limiting.

I think Shapiro is a smart guy. I have always thought that, if some team gave him resources the Indians were never able or willing to give him, he could put together a great club which could win for a long time. I wonder sometimes, though, whether he was hired in Toronto to do what he was asked to do in Cleveland: be a budget hawk and prioritize the business side of things over the baseball side of things rather than balance them.