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.
The press conference officially introducing Joe Maddon as the next Cubs manager will go down at 3pm Eastern. You can watch it live here at CSNChicago.com.
In the meantime, we learn of his deal: it’s for five years, the team has announced. The financial side was not disclosed, but it is expected that it’ll be in the $5 million a year range. That’s what Mike Scioscia makes, and the thinking is that Maddon was expecting to be and would be at or at least near that level.
In other news, the most elite, sought-after manager in baseball — the one that a team would cast aside their current manager in order to get — is worth about the same as a decent setup guy. Not an elite one, but a decent one. Probably worth remembering that the next time we go crazy over-analyzing managers and the moves they make.
Over the weekend Bill Madden opined that, even if they’re the World Series champions, the Giants are “significantly flawed.” He laments the lack of “super teams” anymore. I’m assuming he didn’t write a similar column in November 2000, after an 87-win Yankees team won the World Series, but let’s leave that go for the time being. For now, know that Madden blames it on expansion:
Besides the aforementioned problems with the college scholarships and in the youth leagues, perhaps the biggest reason even the best teams in baseball are significantly flawed — as the Giants were — is because there are simply too many teams in baseball . . .
. . . “In retrospect, it was a terrible mistake to expand again in 1998,” a baseball executive said to me Friday. “It really watered down our product to the point, I think, if you talked to almost any owner in baseball, they would agree that contracting a couple of teams would really benefit the game. But it’s too late for that. I agree there’s not enough good players to go around and that results in us paying mediocre or worse players much more than they’re worth.”
I feel like there are way too many moving parts in baseball to blame parity — if we even consider it a problem, and I know not everyone does — on expansion. For one thing, expansion has occurred as the general population has grown and international talent pools have been better-explored, meaning that as a ratio, major league baseball players are not any more common now than they were before. Maybe less so.
For another thing, the rules under and the environment in which teams are built has shifted pretty constantly over the years. Draft pick compensation, slots for amateur players, and caps on international signings mean that what it takes to build a so-called super team has not remained constant to anywhere approaching a degree to which we can isolate expansion as a problem.
Finally, I’d note that there has been a pretty major change in the overall mindset of baseball teams in the past decade and change. There has been an arms race for front office brains with virtually every team greatly expanding its analytic and scouting operations. Whereas, 15 years ago, some GMs were playing checkers while others were playing chess, they’re almost all playing chess now. That limits the degree to which organizations can truly separate themselves from others.
Baseball is a complicated game. Building successful teams may be even more complicated than the game itself. Whenever you hear someone chalking up the results of a complicated system to one, straightforward cause, put your skeptic’s glasses on.
Tsuyoshi Wada signed a big deal to pitch for the Orioles but had Tommy John surgery before ever reaching the majors. The Cubs took a low-risk flyer on him last winter with a minor league deal and it paid off, with the 33-year-old putting up a 3.27 ERA in 13 starts.
Today the Cubs decided to bring him back for another year, this time, understandably, with a major league contract. Carrie Muskat reports that the deal is for $4 million, with a chance for $2 million more in incentives. Wada should be part of the Cubs rotation as the 2015 season begins.