Not so long ago Wilson Valdez got all kinds of undeserved credit for the Phillies’ success, but now they’ve traded the light-hitting utility man to the Reds for left-handed reliever Jeremy Horst.
Valdez has topped 300 plate appearances in each of the past two seasons despite hitting just .254 with a .300 on-base percentage and .351 slugging percentage, but the 34-year-old figures to see much less action in Cincinnati.
Horst made his big-league debut with the Reds last season, appearing in 12 games, but at 26 years old he’s a marginal prospect with middle relief upside. In other words, he’s a fair return for Valdez.
It used to be that the top dog in a team’s baseball operations department was the general manager. That has changed over the past several years with some combination of title inflation, a genuine addition of supervisory layers and, on some level, employe poaching insurance leading to the top dog now being called, usually, a “president of baseball operations.”
Brewers’ general manager David Stearns is the latest to assume that tile, as the club just announced that he has been promoted to Milwaukee’s president of baseball operations. He has also received a contract extension of unknown length.
Not a big shock given how well the Brewers did in 2018, winning the NL Central title and playing in the NLCS. It’s also worth noting — with a nod to that “employee poaching insurance” item above — that Stearns has drawn some interest from other organizations. It’s thus not unfair to see the promotion is both a thanks for a job well done and a means of keeping other teams’ hands off of him, as employees are generally not given permission to interview for lateral moves, but are given permission to interview for promotions.
The Mudville Nine may have wanted to steal him from Milwaukee, but for Stearns to get a promotion from where he is now would require the creation of some other lofty title.