Craig Calcaterra

Freddie Freeman

Fredi Gonzalez says Freddie Freeman will be a Brave next season

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The other night rumors circulated that the Braves were considering trading first baseman Freddie Freeman. While that seemed somewhat far-fetched — Freeman is the Braves’ best hitter, he is under a reasonable long term deal and the team is starved of offense — the Braves have traded a lot of players once thought off-limits in the past year or two.

Today Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez took to the airwaves and shot those rumors down:

 

Probably worth noting here that front offices do themselves no favors if they telegraph their moves in public. Indeed, just last January team President John Hart said that the club had no plans to trade Craig Kimbrel and he was gone before Opening Day. It was a decent deal for the Braves, perhaps in part because they made it seem like they really didn’t want to part with him. That’s how negotiation works.

For this reason — and, as the Kimbrel example shows — you can’t take an executive’s public pronouncements about a player at face value. So, while Gonzalez’s words sound pretty emphatic, and while it makes far more sense for Freeman to remain with the Braves than to be traded, remember that things can always change. All it takes is one phone call and the right offer.

David Ross to retire after 2016

David Ross
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Cubs catcher David Ross was on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM yesterday and was asked if 2016 would be his last year.He answered in the affirmative, saying “I think this is probably going to be it for me, time to be a dad, I’m going to give it one more run.”

Ross will be entering year two of a two-year, $5 million contract. He hit a paltry .176/.267/.252 in 182 plate appearances in 2015. He’ll turn 39 during Spring Training. He’s basically Jon Lester‘s personal catcher, however, so it’s not like he’s expected to carry too much weight.

(h/t MLB Trade Rumors)

Who will win the Manager of the Year Awards tonight?

Joe Maddon
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Night two of the BBWAA Awards is tonight, and the Managers of the Year will be announced in both the AL and the NL just after 6pm Eastern time. The finalists were announced a week ago. They are Terry Collins, Joe Maddon and Mike Matheny in the National League and Jeff Banister, A.J. Hinch and Paul Molitor in the American League.

In early October I broke down this race, making a case for who should win and a guess as to who will win. As I made clear in that post, however, the Manager of the Year Award is not really a matter suitable for analysis and prediction in the way the other awards are. A manager’s success is insanely dependent on his team’s talent level and health and, just because an otherwise good manager’s team doesn’t fare well doesn’t mean they somehow forgot how to manage well. If you do better with what outsiders thought you had six months earlier, hooray, you’re the manager of the year.

And so it is here. The Mets and Cubs have men who are widely perceived to be excellent managers at the helm but were considered to be less-than-ready for true contention. Most figured the Mets were a potential wild card team and it turns out they won the NL East before ballots were submitted. Most thought the Cubs wouldn’t be a playoff team for a year or two at least, and they won 97 games. Mike Matheny was expected to have a strong contender and more than fulfilled those expectations with a 100-win season but did so despite injuries to key players. A month or so ago I figured that Maddon would win and maybe should, but Collins is a great choice given the parameters typically used by voters. Injuries notwithstanding, Matheny will likely fall victim to the same implicit argument Joe Girardi usually does: “hey, your team is SUPPOSED to win!”

In the AL we have a more traditional setup: three new managers who took over teams perceived to be non-contenders at the beginning of the year but which greatly exceeded expectations. Hinch was considered a disaster of a manager in Arizona but one good year later and he’s new looked on in a new light. Molitor and Bannister had no track record. All three could turn out to be the Next Great Managers in Baseball History, about which books are written, but now their calling card is, primarily, having exceeded those expectations. Any could win. I have no idea who should. If I had to guess I’d say Banister, but it’s really a pick ’em.