Craig Calcaterra

Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper blows a bubble as he steps out of the batter's box during the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015, in Washington. Harper flew out on the at-bat. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Apparently Dusty Baker needs to teach Bryce Harper “how to be a man”

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You would think that, after putting up a season which will almost certainly lead to him winning the MVP Award, the old game of bashing Bryce Harper as some sort of immature kid who hasn’t lived up to his hype would become inoperative. But nope, there are still some who think that trope has legs.

Here’s Steve Kettmann writing at Forbes about the Nationals hiring of Dusty Baker:

In Dusty Baker the Nationals are getting a man who understands people and knows how to work with young superstars to take them to the next level. Make no mistake: The single key to turning the Nats into a World Series team is not studying lefty-righty matchups, or contemplating WAR, but teaching Bryce Harper how to be a man . . . Under Baker’s guidance Harper will be the best player in baseball next year.

Harper was the best player in baseball THIS year, but I suppose we can let that go. As for teaching Harper “how to be a man,” well, I suppose we have to let that one go too because Kettmann doesn’t explain how he is lacking in that regard either. This smells an awful lot like off-the-shelf Harper criticism rooted in inferences made about a teenager six years ago.

Kettmann doesn’t write his column with the purpose of burying Harper — it’s more about praising Baker, whose book the small imprint Kettmann owns just published — but I find the autopilot “Bryce Harper is an immature kid” stuff to be beyond tiresome at this point. And, worse, divorced from reality.

Zack Greinke officially opts out of his contract

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)
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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
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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: