Sources told the New York Daily News that former Red Sox catcher Kelly Shoppach, who has since been traded to the Mets, used Adrian Gonzalez’s phone to express the team’s displeasure with Bobby Valentine last month, leading to the meeting that has caused such a stir this week.
Three sources suggested to the paper that Shoppach sent the message, a charge that Shoppach denied when asked. Gonzalez refused to answer questions on the subject Saturday.
The Daily News suggests that Shoppach’s message came with Gonzalez’s consent:
A small group of players that has been unhappy with Valentine this season — a group that included Shoppach, according to a source familiar with the circumstances — was complaining about the manager in late July and engaged Gonzalez in the conversation. A member of the group suggested that the only way to bring about action would be to voice their problems to ownership. Gonzalez was tired of hearing the constant grumbling and agreed with them that a message from him — the team’s highest-paid player — would get management’s attention.
If that’s the truth, Gonzalez comes off worse than had he sent the message himself. For a nine-year veteran and one of the game’s highest-paid players to let a journeyman backup catcher speak for him reflects terribly on him.
Then again, we’ll probably never know the truth about how exactly the sequence of events went down.
Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.
No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.
Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:
Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.
Manfred didn’t stop there, however.
An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?