Rockies owner says Tracy, O’Dowd not fall guys

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Remember when the Colorado Rockies went to the World Series? That was only five years ago, but it seems like 500 the way the Rockies play these days.

Only the Chicago Cubs (15-28) have a worse record than Colorado (15-27), which lost its sixth straight game on Tuesday.

Nonetheless, club owner Dick Monfort isn’t preparing to make any big changes, and expressed his full support for both manager Jim Tracy and general manager Dan O’Dowd in an interview with Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post .

“I have had people get in my face and say, ‘You’ve got to do this and do that.’ And believe me, I understand the fans’ frustration,” Monfort told The Denver Post on Tuesday. “I know everybody wants a fall guy and everybody wants blood. I just don’t think it’s appropriate to do.”

Monfort went on to say that if there is anyone to blame, it’s him, and it’s possible he became too in love with his own players, though “I don’t believe that’s the case.”

The Rockies are a franchise that prides itself in fostering a culture of strong character. But maybe this franchise is simply too nice from the top down, when it could use some tough decisions both with management and with player personnel.

Then again, the Rockies are 4-16 this month. Maybe this is the dreaded vote of confidence.

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

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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.