Author: Craig Calcaterra


Not a surprise: The Greatest General Manager of All-Time is . . . Branch Rickey!


Mark Armour and Dan Levitt have written a book: In Pursuit of Pennants, which examines how front offices have historically found innovative ways to build winning teams. In support of that, they are counting down the top-25 GMs of all time over at their blog. Since it’s slow season, I’m going to continue linking to the countdown as it’s great stuff we rarely read about in the normal course.

And we come to the end of our countdown. And, no, the identity of the greatest general manager of all time is no real surprise. It’s Branch Rickey. A guy who is most famous, obviously, for being the man who signed Jackie Robinson. But a man who, if he had been hit by a bus before he started working for the Dodgers, may very well have been the greatest GM of all time anyway. In this I’m put in mind of Bill James’ response to someone who asked him if Rickey Henderson was a Hall of Famer. The reply: “if you cut him in half you’d have two hall of famers.”

Go read Dan and Mark’s analysis of Branch Rickey’s amazing career here.

And thank you so much for following along with this countdown. By all means, continue to back to the Pursuit of Pennants blog, as Mark and Dan plan to continue to update it. And please consider purchasing their book, of which this countdown is but a taste. Based on everything Dan and Mark have done in the past, I am certain it’s going to be excellent.

Reinstate Pete Rose if you will, MLB. But you really don’t have to.

pete rose getty

Today Buster Olney (Insider only; sorry) argues that Rob Manfred should reinstate Pete Rose:

More than 25 years has passed since Bart Giamatti announced that Pete Rose had accepted lifetime banishment from baseball.

That’s long enough.

No real purpose is served by keeping him locked away from the sport anymore. The time has come for Major League Baseball to find some middle ground with Rose — to let him back in, in some way, to create a loophole within the rules they control.

We’ve been over this a million times here, of course. And my position, while evolving a bit over the years, is still generally the same: reinstate Rose if you want to. He’s past the point now where any team would give him a job in baseball operations, so the risk that he’d do any harm is pretty minimal. Fans would like it and want to see it. He could very likely serve an excellent philanthropic role if baseball forced him to as a condition of his reinstatement. If Rob Manfred does decide to do it, I won’t get too bent out of shape. It’ll be a thing that happens and life will go on.

But I do get a tad irked at the rhetoric such that Olney deploys here. “That’s long enough.” The idea that Rose has served ample time and is deserving of baseball’s mercy. Or that, as some people put it, it is incumbent upon baseball to reinstate Rose. As if it’s a problem that baseball has to solve. The “time has come?” How, exactly? What has happened that has changed anything?

On the last point: no, it’s not a problem baseball has to solve, actually. Baseball banned him permanently. It can, in all good conscience, keep him banned. There is nothing forcing baseball’s hand here. Yes, some fans would like to see the gesture, but it’s not as if Pete Rose is unavailable to them. Hell, he’s more available than most ballplayers. He has made appearances at Reds games. He’s on TV and signing autographs all the time. Really, life will go on quite nicely for baseball if Pete Rose is never reinstated. The circumstances surrounding Pete Rose’s status are not exigent to anyone but Pete Rose.

As to the point of mercy: I wish the people who argue for Rose’s reinstatement — those who claim he has served “long enough” — would remember a few things about the time Rose has served. That his sentence was one he agreed to, voluntarily and with full knowledge that it was intended to be permanent. That he has served a ban at which he constantly thumbed his nose while lying to both those who had his potential reinstatement in their hands and the fans who were played for idiots for years until Rose finally, and calculatedly, decided to come clean in 2004. That his coming clean was to sell books.  I’m all for mercy. But there aren’t a lot of inmates serving life sentences who have their time commuted to 25 years. There are even fewer of them who get that treatment after failing to serve their time with good behavior. That’s where Rose is.

Which isn’t to say that baseball shouldn’t reinstate him. Again, no real harm will be done if it did. But let us not pretend that baseball owes Pete Rose anything or that Pete Rose deserves anything. If baseball were to reinstate him it would be a 100% free, selfless and charitable act. The sort of act with which Pete Rose is not, as far as can be told, personally familiar with.

The Reds and Aroldis Chapman avoid arbitration

aroldis chapman getty

Mark Sheldon of reports that the Reds and Aroldis Chapman avoided arbitration today with a one-year deal. The terms are unknown, but Chapman submitted a $8.7 million figure while the Reds’ proposal was $6.65 million. Figure the midpoint is what he’ll be paid.

Chapman will be 27 this season. Last year he saved 36 games with a 2.00 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 54 innings which is simply ridiculous.

UPDATE: Strike that midpoint talk: Jeff Passan reports that the deal is $8.05 million, which is nearly half a million above the midpoint.