There are going to be a lot more of these this evening, but we’re trying to keep you apprised of the more significant ones. Like this:
Ramirez looks to be one of the more interesting free agents on the market. He hits when he’s healthy. Indeed, he hits better than almost every shortstop in baseball when he’s healthy. Except (a) he’s not healthy that often; and (b) he may not be a viable shortstop anymore. Or at least for much longer given his defensive trends.
Some team, perhaps the Yankees, could be in interesting fit for him, with him starting out as a shortstop and then transitioning to third over time. The bat may be worth it. Whether the first round pick attached to him would be worth it is another question altogether.
As expected, the Braves have extended a qualifying offer to starter Ervin Santana.
Earlier today Santana’s agent told David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Santana would consider accepting the offer. That could’ve been bluster to scare the Braves off from doing so, but if it was a bluff, it has been called.
Then again, Santana rode this railroad last year and ended up not latching on anywhere until March due to the draft pick compensation tied to him by virtue of the Royals giving him a qualifying offer. It’s possible he wants to avoid that fate again.
Santana finished the season with a 3.95 ERA and a 179/63 K/BB ratio in 196 innings.
Joe Maddon’s introductory presser was fun. Maddon seems to be powered by energy, enthusiasm and approximately ten cases of Red Bull as he talks about his philosophy and optimism for the job. Among the notable points:
- The press conference was held in a bar near Wrigley Field. And, for real, he offered to buy everyone a round. Specifically, “a shot AND a beer.” Watch:
- OK, being fair, it appears as though Theo Epstein said the Cubs were picking that up.
- Maddon mentioned that he took the job interview in his RV in Pensacola. He said the conversation went well, except that “Jed needed to get a coat.” He also mentioned that beers were shared. Which makes his job interview better than any interview you or I have ever had.
- Maddon was asked by a reporter “Do you know what the HELL you’ve gotten yourself into?” Which, OK, thanks for letting us know you know Chicago Cubs history. For his part, Maddon seemed to refuse to buy in to the notion that the Cubs are cursed or anything like that. Later, in response to another question, he said that his baseball motto is “Don’t let the pressure of the moment outweigh the pleasure.” I imagine some will constantly remind Maddon that the Cubs haven’t won forever and ever and everything, but I doubt Maddon will care that much.
- He didn’t button his jersey when he stood up for the usual introductory shot. And his collar as sort of half sticking out. It’s like Jeff Spicoli has taken over the Cubs. I think Spicoli would only be in his early 50s now, not 60 like Maddon is, but close enough.
- He used the word “synergy” and the word “philosophy” around 200 times. And he talked at about 100 m.p.h.
- As far as expectations, he said that he wasn’t sure when the Cubs would win but that, as a manager, he also said “I’m gonna be talking playoffs in spring training . . . Otherwise, why go?”
- When asked by a Baseball Prospectus reporter about his use of advanced analytics, he made mention of the card he keeps in his back pocket during games which is “dripping with analytics.” Sexy. Expect no less than three of the teams in your fantasy league to be named “Dripping with Analytics” next spring.
- When asked about the possibility that taking the job representing a bit of an awkward move given Rick Renteria still being the Cubs manager, Theo Epstein stepped in to answer first, reinforcing the timeline he laid out on Friday in which it was carefully established that the Cubs did no wrong and there was no tampering, etc. I don’t suppose we’ll ever know what happened with that specifically. I also know that no one with the Cubs, be it employees or fans, particularly cares, and that Rick Renteria is too much of a baseball lifer to make a fuss over it. For Maddon’s part, he reiterated that he had no idea that he had an opt-out clause with the Rays until his agent called him and told him.
There was certainly a lot of enthusiasm on Maddon’s part. And no small amount of enthusiasm from the press corps, who generally speaking, seem happy Maddon is around. Maybe they like that he’s a good quote. Maybe, even if professional ethics won’t allow them to admit it, they think he’ll make the Cubs a winner and that it’s more fun to cover a winner. I dunno.
But it’s certainly a new era in Chicago.
Joe Maddon will be formally introduced as the Cubs’ 54th manager at 3pm today. Which is frankly just mind-blowing when you think about it. Or maybe it’s not. I don’t know.
CSNChicago.com will have live, streaming coverage of the presser. Meet the Cubs’ new $25 million man. And try to think if there’s a been a guy so set up to be a legend as Maddon is right now. Taking over a team that has been bad for years yet is stocked with talent. He could flop, sure, but he could also become a guy who never has to buy his own drinks in Chicago again.
Here’s a no-brainer: The Royals exercised Wade Davis’ $7 million option for 2015.
Davis was one of the biggest reasons the Royals went as far as they did this season, posting a 1.00 ERA and 109/23 K/BB ratio over 72 innings. Combined with Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland, he helped form part of the best bullpen in baseball.
Of course there’s no guarantee when or where he’ll pitch in 2015, as the Royals’ surplus of relievers could make for many attractive trade options if Dayton Moore sees fit to pursue them. He basically has three closers now. If he flipped one of them for some offensive help Davis could be dealt or could become the team’s closer.