Quote of the Day: Bud Selig

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“Hank Aaron told me, ‘We never got out of the batter’s box.’ And Joe
Torre told me the same thing. You watch guys now. They’re in the
batter’s box and it’s ball one. Then they get out and they’re adjusting
everything. I said to the committee, ‘What are they adjusting? They
didn’t swing.'”

Commissioner Bud Selig in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, discussing the pace of the game. He added “We live in a fast-paced society. The game ought to be played the way
it’s always been played. You watch a 2-1 game and that ought not to take
3 hours and 4 minutes.”  I can’t argue with that. I also can’t argue with the fact that it’s much better to hear this from the Commissioner of Baseball than from some loose cannon umpire.

One question, though: does Selig really need to name-check Aaron and Torre on this? Bud’s been around a while so I’m sure he knows that guys didn’t use to step out all the time. Heck, they didn’t do it even 20 years ago.  At the risk of totally irresponsible armchair psychology — my favorite kind, by the way — this quote is a window into Selig’s insecurity. He’s the freakin’ head honcho of baseball, but he doesn’t feel confident enough in his role to simply state something obvious with authority. Instead, he invokes the names of two guys who he believes have much more weight and credibility than he himself does, likely believing on some level that his opinion wouldn’t matter otherwise.

Such behavior creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. Bud hasn’t taken many strong stands on his own. Instead, he has let public opinion dictate the courses he takes. This is just the latest example.

Yankees trade Sonny Gray to the Reds

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The deal was much talked about all weekend and now the deal is done: The Cincinnati Reds gave acquired starter Sonny Gray and lefty Reiver Sanmartin from the Yankees in exchange for second base prospect Shed Long and a 2019 competitive balance pick.

The key to making the deal happen: Gray agreeing to a a three-year, $30.5 million contract extension. The Reds will likewise hold a $12 million club option for 2023. The deal had been struck and a window granted through close of business today to get Gray to agree to the extension and, obviously, he has.

The Reds will get a pitcher coming off of a bad season in which he posted a disappointing 4.90 ERA in 23 starts and seven relief appearances. He was hammered particularly hard in Yankee Stadium but pitched better on the road. Great American Ballpark is not a great pitcher’s park itself but any change of scenery would be nice for Gray, who had become much unwanted and unloved in New York. In Cincinnati he has the assurance of a spot in the rotation and, even better for him, he will be reunited with his college pitching coach, Derek Johnson, who joined new manager David Bell’s Reds staff earlier this offseason. If he bounces back even a little bit, the Reds will have a useful starter at a below market price for four years. If he doesn’t, well, they haven’t exactly gone bankrupt taking the chance.

The Reds will also get Reiver Sanmartin, 22, who started in the Rangers system before being traded to the Yankees. He’s a soft-tosser who figures to be a reliever if he makes the big leagues. He played at four different levels last season, with one game at Double-A and the rest below that, posting a composite 2.80 ERA in 10 starts and 13 overall appearances while striking out 7.8 batters per nine.

The Yankees will get Shed Long, who is ranked as the Reds’ seventh best prospect. The 23-year old second baseman hit .261/.353/.412 at Double-A in 2018 and has hit very close to that overall line for his entire six-year minor league career. He strikes out a bit and may not stick at second base long term, shifting to a corner outfield slot perhaps, but he’s a legitimate prospect.

The Reds get another starter with some upside. The Yankees get rid of a problem and gain a prospect and a draft pick. Sonny Gray gets some job and financial security at a time when it is not at all clear what his future holds. Not a bad baseball trade.

UPDATE: Welp, the Yankees don’t have a prospect anymore. They just traded long to the Mariners for outfielder Josh Stowers. Stowers was a second-round pick in last year’s draft. He’s 21 and batted .260/.380/.410 with five homers and 20 steals over 58 games in Short-Season ball in 2018. He’s ranked by MLB.com as the Mariners’ No. 10 prospect, but now he’s New York bound.