The unintended fallout from Saturday’s report in Venezuelan newspaper Diario Panorama regarding free agent Marco Scutaro is yet another cautionary tale of what can happen when Hot Stove news is misinterpreted.
Augusto Cardenas, who conducted the interview with Scutaro, wrote in a series of “tweets” that the Red Sox, Dodgers, Mariners and Rangers were among those interested
in the 34-year-old infielder. According to the report, Scutaro was
approached about playing shortstop for the Red Sox, second base for the
Dodgers and third base by other teams.
Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, who spoke to Cardenas on the phone, took this to mean that the Mariners and Rangers were the teams to contact Scutaro about third base, a rather curious development from the Rangers’ perspective with Michael Young expected to be the starter.
Jordan Bastain, who relayed the news via MLB.com’s Hot Stove Blog, quickly corrected the error, but the rumors made it far enough that that Rangers general manager Jon Daniels was forced to address the rumblings with Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
“We haven’t inquired about anyone for 3B and have no plans to,” Daniels wrote in an email. “End of story.”
Saturday’s Hot Stove lesson? The game “Telephone” can be just as dangerous, if not more so, over the series of tubes that is the internet.
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?