Who is the most hated player in your team’s history?

218 Comments

I try to ac-cent-u-ate the positive and e-lim-i-nate the negative as much as possible, but it’s a long baseball season so it’s easy to get negative.

I tend to get the most negative about my own team when they’re not playing well. Oh, if you could take a man’s life for the thoughts that’s in his head I’d have been on that execution line many a times over the past 25 years. Between Robert Fick and Lonnie Smith I’m surprised I’m still living.

Jim Moore over at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer goes through the exercise with respect to the Mariners today, trying to figure out who the most hated Mariner of all time is.  He settles on Bobby Ayala but thinks that Chone Figgins is closing fast. Only Mariners fans can judge, though, because such assessments are inherently subjective. Only fans of a given team can speak to who that team’s most hated player is. Those on the outside just can’t understand.

I don’t know who the Braves’ most hated player is. Robert Fick was only there a year, but I truly hated him. It’s not Lonnie Smith. He was actually the only good player they had for a while there and I think people forgive him for his World Series (and other) transgressions. It might be John Rocker, but I bet that’s more because he embarrassed Braves fans more than he was actually hated, because he pitched pretty well while with the Braves.  I have to give it some thought.

In the meantime, what say you?  Who is the most hated player in your team’s history? Or at least recent history.  Show your work, please.

Mark Lerner says Nationals can’t afford both Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg

Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images
1 Comment

The defending champion Washington Nationals may have to replace two star players in third baseman Anthony Rendon and starter Stephen Strasburg as both are free agents. Both are represented by agent Scott Boras and both are expected to command lucrative contracts. As a result, Nationals managing principal owner Mark Lerner said the club can’t afford to bring back both players, Todd Dybas of NBC Sports Washington reports.

Lerner told Donald Dell in an interview, “We really can only afford to have one of those two guys. They’re huge numbers. We already have a really large payroll to begin with.”

As Dybas notes, there are myriad reasons why Lerner would say this publicly. If Lerner had instead said, “Yeah, we’re filthy stinking rich, especially coming off of a World Series win. We could afford to get every free agent if we wanted to,” then the Nationals would have no leverage in negotiations. Creating artificial scarcity increases the Nationals’ leverage when negotiating with Boras and his clients. And as Dybas also points out, Lerner’s statement also prepares fans for an unsatisfactory outcome not unlike when the club took itself out of the running to bring back outfielder Bryce Harper earlier this year. This not to say Lerner’s statement is justified; it’s just how things work in the current system.

Lerner also defended the Nationals’ approach to free agency. He said, “They think you’re really back there printing money and it’s whoever goes to the highest bidder. It’s not that way at all. You give these fellas — there’s a negotiation that goes on, but…We’ve been pretty successful in free agency over time. You’re not going to get everybody. Certain players may want to go home, closer to where their home is. You never know the reason why people move on. But, we’ve been very successful. Probably one of the most successful teams in free agency the last 10 years. We’re very proud of our record. But, again, I think people have to realize, it’s not all up to us.”

It is true that the Nationals have been one of the most active teams in free agency in recent years. In a league that has otherwise done the opposite, they deserve some credit for that. But the Nationals are also keenly aware of the competitive balance tax threshold, which teams use as a de facto salary cap. They don’t have to, but they choose to because it’s a convenient structure that allows them to limit expenditures.

At the end of the day, it’s baseball’s financial structure that is rotten. It forces constant misinformation out of everyone’s mouths so as to protect their financial interests and leverage, and incentivizes teams to value profits above all. In a perfect world, MLB team owners wouldn’t need to cry poor every offseason, but we don’t live in such a world.