Craig Calcaterra

Philadelphia Phillies v San Francisco Giants, Game 4

Brian Sabean says that California taxes are a hindrance to the Giants signing free agents

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In the offseason you hear a lot of baseball writers talk about how so-and-so team will have to pay more to get a given free agent than thusandsuch team due to the disparity in taxes between the teams’ states.

I often mock this sort of thing, however mildly, because I can’t think of a single instance in which a player or an agent has publicly said that taxes played into their decision regarding where to go. And, maybe more to the point, the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Angels — all teams playing in high tax locations — have never struggled to sign free agents.

But Brian Sabean, talking to Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, says it’s a factor:

In one of Sabean’s more interesting comments, he offered a bit more insight into why he does not pursue more of the high-ticket free agents.

“To entice a free agent to come to San Francisco, we’re almost in an overpay situation, so why get involved in all those battles where you’re not going to be able to go up the totem pole money-wise?” Sabean said.

When asked to elaborate on why the Giants have to overpay, Sabean said, “You’ve got the state of California taxes.” . . . Asked if the high California income tax has been a problem for a while, Sabean said, “To a certain extent. Things now are getting more and more about the signing bonus, more and more about your take-home. Exponentially, when you get involved in some of those numbers, it makes a sizable difference to some.”

We don’t know enough about the offers rejected by given free agents to know how much, if at all, the Dodgers, Angles, Yankees and Red Sox have overpaid to compensate. But at least one GM is suggesting that they do.

Scorpions have invaded the White Sox and Dodgers spring training facility

Scorpion
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Build your spring training complex in the middle of the desert and sometimes you’re gonna get critters. This is from yesterday:

And this is today:

That second pic looks like it was taken along the stone walls that go all around Camelback Ranch, stretching down to the Sox and Dodgers’ facilities beyond the outfield wall. Walls which, in a number of places, fans can sit on and lean on.

Which means that a call is going to go out to an exterminator sometime before games start there next week.

The Cubs have hired Manny Ramirez as a hitting consultant

Manny Ramirez
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Last year, Manny Ramirez was a player/hitting coach for the Cubs’ Triple-A team, with an emphasis on the “coach” part. His big league is over, the Cubs said, and they valued him working with younger players.

That experiment was considered a big success by the Cubs, so they have given Manny a more formal position:

Ramirez worked with Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler, among others, and those guys are all a big part of the Cubs’ future. It would seem now that Manny is too.

Elvis Andrus is in The Best Shape of his Life

Elvis Andrus
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Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports:

Shortstop Elvis Andrus on Monday surged to the lead for most times invoking the spring training cliché “best shape of my career” by a Ranger.

One thing. Andrus appeared to be telling the truth . . . He joined a group of about a dozen teammates who religiously worked out daily at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He took up yoga and Pilates to increase his flexibility.

The difference is striking. Andrus dropped about 12 pounds and lost the puffy look to his face. He energetically bounced around the field during an informal workout that included seven projected starting position players.

Andrus hit a poor .263/.314/.333 last season and saw his stolen base success rate fall to 64 percent. He signed an eight-year, $120 million contract extension in April 2013.

(Thanks to Emily for the heads up)

Cal Ripken Jr. denies Gregg Zaun’s claim that he hazed and abused young players

Cal Ripken
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Gregg Zaun made claimed on Friday that, when he was coming up witht he Orioles, veteran players such as Cal Ripken Jr. hazed and, in Zaun’s words, physically abused him. And, for the record, he claimed he was fine with it and that more of that should be happening to young ballplayers today.

Roch Kubatko of MASN spoke to Ripken about it and Ripken disputes Zaun’s account:

“I talked to him because he’s a friend of mine. I consider him a good friend,” Ripken said today. “I don’t know how it got all out of whack. He apologized and said he used the wrong words. There was no abuse, there was no hazing. It doesn’t do anything for team unity. He knows that and everybody who knows me knows that.”

There was “horseplay,” apparently, but Ripken denies that it was hazing or abuse and denies that it was limited to rookie players. Ripken specifically denied the anecdote Zaun told about there being “an imaginary line” on the charter flights which rookies could not cross, leading to abuse.

Brady Anderson, also named by Zaun, denied Zaun’s claims. He also called Zaun’s overall credibility into question by noting that, contrary to Zaun’s assertion, Anderson did not play in the instructional league together as Anderson was in the Red Sox’ organization at the time.

Kubatko quotes Zaun here as well, and Zaun — quite predictably — claims he was taken out of context by the “blogger” who transcribed Zaun’s comments on the radio show on which he was appearing. Not that he eliminated any actual words Zaun said but, rather, that he didn’t explain that Zaun described the alleged hazing with “enthusiasm.” Which, um, sure Zaun, that changes everything. More on that here.

So, I guess that’s that.