<span class="vcard">Craig Calcaterra</span>

Chicago Cubs v San Francisco Giants

Pablo Sandoval wants respect

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As Pablo Sandoval takes his offseason tour to Boston, his brother/agent had this to say about what the third baseman is looking for:

In an interview with Ch. 7, Sandoval’s brother and co-agent Michael Sandoval said his client is looking for respect.

“It can be Red Sox, can be any other uniform,” Michael Sandoval said. “The good part of this is he’ll get a chance to explore his value on the market, see who can really appreciate him and his work.”

Having watched free agents make the rounds over the years, “respect” tends to mean “the biggest contract,” so in this way he’s not unlike most free agents.

But I do wonder if some of the stuff from the Giants about his weight over the years irks him. It’s easy to forget about it in the afterglow of the World Series, but Sandoval may believe that he has been treated a bit like a child over the years in San Francisco. I’m not saying that’d be a rational thing — he’s an athlete and it’s not unreasonable for a team to have expectations about the shape its athletes keep themselves in — but it has been pretty public and maybe that bugs him.

Post trade spin from Jason Heyward and John Hart

Jason Heyward AP
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The Jason Heyward trade makes sense for the Braves if they don’t feel like they could sign him long term. It makes far less sense if it was realistic for them to extend him. So, of course, we have some dueling quotes about that in the aftermath. First from Jason Heyward, talking about his mindset following his last go-around in arbitration:

“I wanted our next conversation to be about me possibly being in Atlanta for a long time. And that conversation never came about. So I took it as, that’s not what they wanted to happen.”

Here’s John Hart:

“He wanted a two-year deal and wasn’t interested in a long-term extension unless the dollars were maybe beyond where the club certainly wanted to go.  We had a strong feeling he was going to go on the market.  That’s what he wanted to do.  We wanted to protect ourselves and position ourselves better.”

This is probably each side talking past each other. I think Heyward is right that, if the Braves wanted to do a long term deal, it was incumbent upon them to approach him, and he said they hadn’t. At the same time, the Braves front office didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, and after doing multiple long-term deals with young players like Freddie Freeman, if they had any sense that Heyward would be willing to do something like that, they likely would’ve pressed the matter.

Doesn’t matter what anyone wants now, though. He gone.

Joe Maddon likes his potential replacements

Joe Maddon
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On Friday Joe Maddon offered his view of the guy whose job he took, saying he wanted to be “friends” with Rick Renteria. Over the weekend he offered his view of the people the team he left is interviewing to take his place:

“They’ve created a wonderful list, they really have,” Maddon said. “They’ve given themselves an opportunity to interview some really qualified people and make a typically very good Rays decision at the end of the day. I really believe that. You know it’s going to be well thought out, and they’re going to select a solid candidate to lead.”

With the caveat that I like Joe Maddon as much as the next guy, can we observe that maybe no one in Tampa Bay wants to hear his view about that just yet, just as Rick Renteria may not want to be his friend just yet? Yes, he had the right to leave his job with the Rays and yes, pending MLB’s investigation, he had the right to take the job the Cubs offered him. But maybe some folks are still a bit sensitive about all that.

Deep Thoughts: a fan’s take on the Cardinals-Braves trade

Atlanta Braves Photo Day
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The idea here applies to any fan when their team trades someone they like, I think. My team traded someone I like today, so let’s talk about how that goes, OK?

I like Jason Heyward. A lot. It’s not 100% rational and it’s not based on either his actual value or what I think he might do in the future. He has shown amazing promise, yes, and a big part of me feels like he’ll break out eventually, putting the power, patience and defensive skill he has shown in given seasons in the past altogether in the same year and be an MVP player. Like, if he pulled a .300/.400/.500 out of his rear next year and led the Cardinals to the World Series, I wouldn’t be shocked. I’m not predicting it or anything. Unlike some Braves fans I don’t truly believe that Heyward is some sort of megastar. Certainly not yet. Maybe not ever. I’m just saying I wouldn’t be shocked.

But that’s not what makes me love Jason Heyward so much. Like I said, it’s hard to quantify. A lot of is wrapped up in his awesome major league debut a few years ago. I was watching that game live and it was a thrill and that stuff doesn’t rub off easy. There’s also something interesting about a baseball player who looks like he could be a power forward or something. There’s something about him — closely related to my feelings about how he may do in the future described in the previous paragraph — that makes you think that, at any time, he could hit a homer or a triple or make a spectacular catch or something. I’m sure many of you have similar intangible — maybe ineffable — feelings about some of your favorite players. You like them because  . . . well, you just do. That’s how I feel about Heyward.

It’s worth noting, of course, that, objectively speaking, the Braves did OK here. At least if you assume they weren’t going to sign Heyward to a long term deal, which I think is a safer assumption than thinking they would. Shelby Miller may not be quite the prospect he looked like a couple of years ago and Tyrell Jenkins represents a lot of uncertainty (and if there is payoff, it’s a few years down the road) but having two decent-to-good-to-possibly-very-good pitchers under team control for a long time represents a lot of value. Depending on how you prefer to analyze such things, there are several non-crazy ways to analyze this trade as good for Atlanta at the moment if you’re so inclined.

But I’m not so inclined. Not because I disagree with that analysis out of hand, but because I’m a fan of one of the players and teams being analyzed. And no matter what my predispositions are when it comes to analysis (mine skew objective and sabermetric, you’re no doubt aware) it seems sort of wrong to immediately revert to that right when one of your favorite players gets dealt. No matter how much time we spend analyzing it, baseball is about fandom, and when your fandom is involved, you can hate it when your team trades a guy you like. Be it Jason Heyward or someone bigger. Or heck, for that matter if it’s Joe Shlabotnik.

Take the fandom and my love of Heyward out of it and the deal is defensible. But personally I hope I never get to the point to where, if my team does something I’m not hot about, I just revert to cold analysis. That’s no fun.

Done Deal: Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins agree on the biggest contract in baseball history

giancarlo stanton getty
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Word came over the weekend that it was coming and now it is reportedly done: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the 13-year, $325 million contract between Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins is officially “in place.” It won’t be publicly announced by the team until later this week, likely so that a press conference can be arranged.

The money is notable, but in reality it’s a natural tick up from the last biggest deal in baseball history, that being Miguel Cabrera’s $290 million+ pact with the Tigers. Stanton is younger and the deal is longer, of course, but this is not, contrary to what you’ll hear in the coming days, paradigm-breaking or some new high watermark in player greed, owner foolishness or anything like that. Baseball’s revenues are up dramatically. It was inevitable that a young, talented player was going to make a some serious bank like this eventually.

What is notable is the structure. Stanton, who is now 25, can opt out of the deal not long after he turns 30. Alex Rodriguez had a similar opt-out provision in his original $250 million deal he signed to join the Rangers. He exercised that opt-out in 2007 and signed an even bigger deal. Stanton, should he continue to be the top slugger in baseball could do the same. It could also lead the famously fire-selling Jeff Loria to move Stanton as that time approaches. And, even if this deal seems gigantic now, it’s a movable contract, I reckon, if Stanton remains elite.

And if he isn’t the top slugger? If he becomes an OK but not great power hitter like some have in the past? Well, then the Marlins are on the hook for a long, long time for an awful lot of money.

Still, I think I’d rather gamble $325 million on Stanton at 25 than a lot of other free agents closer to 30. And if I am the Miami Marlins — a team with a lot of young talent but in search of credibility and some genuine devotion from its often-burned fan base  — it’s not a bad gamble to take.