Padres give up on Jorge Cantu

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Even though the Padres will be using the designated hitter in Minnesota this weekend, they said after Wednesday’s game that they’re cutting veteran Jorge Cantu.

The move is likely clearing a spot for Orlando Hudson to come off the DL on Friday.

Cantu was signed to platoon with Brad Hawpe at first base and back up Chase Headley at third base, but he was a big failure in his role, hitting .194/.232/.285 with three homers in 144 at-bats.  With the recent promotion of Anthony Rizzo, Cantu was no longer needed as a first baseman against lefties, leaving him with little to do.

It’s hard to say what’s next for Cantu.  He drove in 100 runs in 2009, and he’s still just 29 years old.  However, he’s struggled mightily over the last year and he’s a liability defensive anywhere except first base.  He went unsigned into late January over the winter before settling for $850,000 from the Padres, and there should be even less demand for his services now.  Odds are that he’ll have to spend some time in Triple-A before getting another shot.

Red Sox owner: “spending money helps”

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The other day Rob Manfred said, as he and other owners have said often in the past, that there is no correlation between payroll and winning. He said that defensively, in response to criticism of the slow free agent market of the past two offseasons.

As we have noted in the past, Manfred is not being honest about that. While, yes, in any given year there can be wild variation between payroll and win total — the Giants stunk last year, the A’s won 97 games — common sense dictates otherwise. What’s more, a recent study has shown that there is a pretty strong correlation between winning and payroll over time. Yes, you can fluke into a big season with a low payroll — Deadspin compared it to a cold snap occurring during a time of climate change — but if you want that “sustained success” teams claim they want, the best way to ensure it is to spend more money over time.

If you know anything about baseball labor history, though, you know well that the Commissioner and the owners will continue to mischaracterize the dynamics of the business as it suits them. Mostly because — present lefty sportswriters notwithstanding — very few people push back on their narratives. Fans tend to parrot ownership’s line on this stuff and, more often than not, baseball media acts as stenographer for ownership as opposed to critic. That gives owners a far greater ability to shape the narrative about all of this than most institutions.

Which makes this all the more awkward. From David Schoenfield of ESPN:

In apparent contradiction to his own commissioner, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry said Monday that, while there is not a perfect correlation between a bigger payroll and winning, “spending more money helps.”

Which is right. The correlation is not perfect — teams can spend a lot of money on a bad team if given the chance and a low payroll team like the Rays can bullpen their way to 90 wins — but you’re way more likely to win year-in, year-out if you’re spending than if you go cheap all the time and hope for a miracle season.

Which is not to say that Henry is some labor activist owner. He and his fellow front office officials have a long history of backing the league office on just about everything that matters and will no doubt do so with labor matters in the runup to the next CBA negotiation. The owners tend not to have a solidarity problem.

But Henry does seem to draw the line at peddling baloney, which is a shockingly necessary thing when the league and the union’s relationship turns acrimonious.