Craig Calcaterra

Plaschke

It was only a matter of time: Bill Plaschke has turned on Andrew Friedman

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Back when the Dodgers hired Paul DePodesta as their general manager in 2004 the Los Angeles Times columnists decided that he was a no good sabermetric nerd and, as a group, decided that it was their business and duty to run him out of his job. Which, eventually, they did.

Since that time one of those columnists — T.J. Simers — has retired. Another one — Steve Dilbeck — is still on that “make fun of the geeks” kick. And then there is Bill Plaschke.

Plaschke is a bit more complex than the openly-trolling Simers and the luddite that is Dilbeck. Since 2004 he has said that he has come to appreciate the insights of sabermetrics, and there is some evidence of that. He has not, however, given up the idea that the Dodgers general manager has to be a dyed in the wool baseball man and, more importantly, that the Dodgers general manager has to please him and him alone in order to be good at his job.

The evidence: last night’s column in which he excoriates Andrew Friedman for the Matt Kemp trade, rips him for “blowing up” the Dodgers (and calls them “The Los Friedman Dodgers” which is just stupid). Which, fine, you can criticize the trade if you want to (Yasmani Grandal ain’t exactly Johnny Bench), but Plaschke’s efforts to do so are patently disingenuous.

  • He misleadingly characterizes Grandal’s value as a hitter, citing his batting average only which, well, so much for the appreciating sabermetric insights stuff.
  • Mere months after calling the Dodgers’ playoff loss the worst he has ever seen and one which required big changes, he changes his tune to say they were “just getting used to October” and now Friedman has ruined that beautiful, on-the-upswing team.
  • He says “two years ago, they were two victories from [the World Series]. With Kemp gone, they’re not getting any closer,” somehow forgetting that the often-injured Kemp was AWOL from those playoffs; and
  • He re-writes the history of the Mike Piazza trade, acting as if they got mere pennies on the dollar for him or something when, in fact, they got an awful lot of value in return. But hey, any weapon at hand.

The worst part, though, is that the thing is so infused with self importance. Get a load of this:

Impressively, the new guy isn’t afraid of the heat. Friedman returned a phone call even though he knew I would be criticizing the Kemp trade.

Yes. Impressive that the $30 million executive did not cower in fear from the newspaper person.

And then there’s this:

[Friedman] was asked if he understood how, just a couple of months into his journey, he was already treading in the sort of deep water not found off the shores of St. Petersburg.

All of this is premised on the notion that, in Los Angeles, it’s important that someone win a dang pennant for the first time in 27 years. It’s almost as if Plaschke doesn’t realize that Friedman won a pennant in Tampa Bay already.

Anyway, Plaschke’s alleged love of Matt Kemp is absolutely hilarious — I recall him ripping Kemp for his attitude, his love life and his frequent injuries in the past — but it can be understood completely when you realize that it is occasioned by a pathological need on Plaschke’s part to go after some guy who he does not think is worthy of Ned Colletti’s job. I’m just shocked he waited nearly two months after Friedman was hired to uncork this thing.

The 2014 Winter Meetings in Review

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These past few days in San Diego were borderline crazy. The Dodgers turned over a huge portion of their roster. The Cubs and White Sox made all kinds of noise. The Phillies finally began their tear-down and, perhaps, their rebuild. The Tigers and Red Sox shuffled and reloaded. The Yankees acted like some small market team. The Marlins and Reds, well, we’re not entirely sure what they did. It’s almost too much to keep track of.

But that’s why HardballTalk is here, dear readers. Below are links to the highlights of these few days in December when the past season was put in the rear view mirror for good and the foundations for the next season were laid:

The biggest deal: Jon Lester signed with the Cubs for $155 million. And here’s what the deal means for him, the Cubs and the Red Sox.

The next biggest: Matt Kemp was traded by the Dodgers to the Padres.

The Dodgers signed Brandon McCarthy to a four-year deal.

The White Sox signed closer David Robertson to a four-year deal. And the Yankees never even made him an offer. For that matter, the Yankees didn’t make an offer for McCarthy either.

But that’s not all! The White Sox also traded for Jeff Samardzija.

The end of an era in Philly: Jimmy Rollins was traded to the Dodgers.

Yoenis Cespedes (and some other guys) was traded to the Tigers for Rick Porcello (and some other guys)

The Tigers then traded for the Reds’ Alfredo Simon to replace Porcello in the rotation.

The Reds then traded another starter, Mat Latos, to Miami. Who’s gonna pitch in Cincinnati, you guys?

The Red Sox rotation makeover continued with the acquisition of Wade Miley and the signing of Justin Masterson.

The Dodgers traded Dee Gordon and Dan Haren to Miami for Andrew Heaney and some other guys. Haren may retire, however.

Oh, and the Dodgers didn’t really want Heaney anyway: they flipped him to the Angels for Howie Kendrick a few hours later. Heaney nonetheless looked back fondly on his many, many minutes as a Los Angeles Dodger.

The Twins signed Ervin Santana for $54 million

The Cubs re-signed Jason Hammel, showing that you can go home again. They also traded for Dbacks catcher Miguel Montero.

The Astros did some bullpen work: they signed Luke Gregerson and then they turned around and signed Pat Neshek.

The Veteran’s Committee had ONE job — to induct someone to the Hall of Fame — and it failed to do so.

The Rays reached an agreement allowing them to look for a new stadium. And, if they don’t get a new stadium, they’ll probably be sold and moved.

We learned that Madison Bumgarner once dated someone named Madison Bumgarner.

The Braves signed infielder/utilityman Alberto Callaspo.

The Royals signed DH Kendrys Morales.

Tom Gage of the Detroit News won the Spink Award. On the broadcasting side, Dick Enberg won the Frick Award.

The Angels acquired a guy who may be the worst hitter in baseball.

The Baseball Writers Association of America made a recommendation regarding the Hall of Fame ballot, but it was lame.

The Braves made an offer everyone will pretty much easily refuse.

The Pirates got Antonio Bastardo from the Phillies.

The Rangers acquired Ross Detwiler from the Nationals

The Rockies sent infielder Josh Rutledge to the Angels for a good relief pitcher.

The Cardinals got Mark Reynolds for some reason.

Nyjer Morgan is raging against the dying of the light: he’s going to go play in Korea.

Scott Boras did what Scott Boras does best.

Finally, I ranked all 30 major league managers by handsomeness again. Because that’s what’s really important.

I think we all need a breather now. Baseball can stop for a few days while we get our bearings if it would like to. Indeed, that’d be much appreciated.

 

Brian Cashman says Brandon McCarthy was “at a level that we couldn’t play on”

Yankees logo
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The Yankees have a level. Really. And it is apparently below 4/$48 million for a pitcher that they could probably use an awful lot:

Which is fine if the Yankees are, at long last, publicly committing to a rebuild and entering a phase where they are patient as their many bad contracts fall off the books. Which, really, they probably should at this point. But it is very strange hearing the Yankees talking about relatively modest ceilings for anyone.

Now watch: five minutes after I shut down and head for the airport they’ll give Max Scherzer $180 million.

Dave Dombrowski on Max Scherzer “I guess anything can happen but we’re not in active pursuit”

Max Scherzer Getty
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The Tigers trading Rick Porcello made it seem like, maybe — just maybe — they were making some room to bring Max Scherzer back. But then they picked up Alfredo Simon and now they have, arguably, six starting pitching options. So, what does that mean for the Tigers and Max Scherzer?

When you’re a free agent, I guess you’re a “situation.”

If the Tigers are not in active pursuit that means, as far as I can tell, no one is in active pursuit of Scherzer. Which means that this may be a classic Boras-client-signs-in-late-January kind of thing.

Done Deal: Yoenis Cespedes and two players traded to Detroit for Rick Porcello and a minor leaguer

Cespedes Getty
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UPDATE: The Sox are sending Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier to Detroit along with Cespedes.

10:18 AM: Ken Rosenthal says the deal is done. It’s Cespedes and two players for Porcello and a minor leaguer. We’ll update you when we know the names of the minor leaguers changing teams.

10:00 AM: Alex Speier of the Boston Globe says the Red Sox will send two additional players to the Tigers. Which makes this deal make more sense.

9:40 AM: The Tigers and Red Sox are pulling off a big trade according to Fox’s C.J. Nitkowski: starting pitcher Rick Porcello to Boston in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

Porcello is a perfect fit for Boston who, as you may have heard, is in the market for a starting pitcher. He’ll turn 26 at the end of the month but he already has six full seasons as a starter under his belt. In those seasons he’s 76-63 with a 4.30 ERA and 655 strikeouts and 263 walks in 1073.1 innings. Those numbers have a lot of learning curve built into them, however — he started extremely young — and a lot of TERRIBLE Tigers infield defense over the years, which has hurt the groundball-heavy Porcello a lot. In 2014 he was outstanding, going 15-13 with a 3.43 ERA and 129 strikeouts against 41 walks in 204.2 innings.

Cespedes certainly has pop, an arm built for a big outfield like the one in Detroit and the potential to uncork an excellent season, but his on-base percentage — .294 last season, .316 in his three seasons, heavily weighted by his first one — is a major problem. Also: Comerica Park is not going to be the best place in the world for his home run stroke.

Both Cespedes and Porcello have one year to go before free agency.