Orioles manager Buck Showalter made a couple of controversial comments in a recent issue of Men’s Journal about some of his opponents in the American League East. He said Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter “ticks” him off and that he’d “like to see how smart” Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein “is with the Tampa Bay payroll.”
Epstein was asked about the remarks last week and played it safe, telling reporters that he hadn’t seen the article and didn’t care to comment. Red Sox skipper Terry Francona took a different route.
The eccentric skipper spoke Sunday with Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe:
“I got asked that the other day and I hadn’t seen it. I got it third-hand and I kind of joked about it a little bit. Then I read it and actually I was kind of aggravated a little bit,” Francona said. “I don’t think that’s anybody’s place. That’s my boss. I was actually kind of aggravated a little bit. It’s not the end of the world, but I thought he shouldn’t have done it.”
“I just thought that was a little bit out of line. I don’t think he’d be appreciating if I said something about Andy [MacPhail, Baltimore’s president of baseball operations], which I wouldn’t. It’s none of my business. And for the record, I think Andy’s really good.”
The Showalter-led Orioles went 3-3 against Boston at the end of last season. Given Baltimore’s mediocre roster and the additions that the Red Sox made this winter, our guess is that .500 record won’t last too long.
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?