Andrew Friedman got $35 million to leave the Rays for the Dodgers … and he might be underpaid

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Everyone figured the Dodgers must have shelled out a ton of money to lure Andrew Friedman away from the Rays and now Buster Olney has the details: $35 million over five years.

That’s obviously a ton of money, but $7 million per season means almost nothing to a Dodgers team with a $240 million (and climbing) payroll.

Plus, in terms of what $35 million buys you on the field Friedman is getting–for example–$14 million less than Ricky Nolasco and $13 million less than Ubaldo Jimenez got as free agents last winter. He’s getting third-starter money, basically. Jason Vargas (four years, $32 million) or Scott Feldman (three years, $30 million) money.

I think there’s a strong argument to be made that general managers (or perhaps more accurately front offices, overall) can have a larger impact on a team’s long-term success than even elite players, let alone third starters. GMs are much tougher to evaluate than players and Friedman still has plenty to prove, but if you think a GM and/or president of baseball operations is truly great then $35 million in a bargain.

And my guess is we’re going to see GM salaries skyrocket soon as more high-revenue teams realize it’s one of the few remaining places to out-spend your low-revenue opponents now that draft and international spending is mostly regulated.

Gabe Kapler chooses not to bench Jean Segura for lack of effort

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The Phillies are in a tailspin. The club lost its perch atop the NL East, losing 12 of its last 18 games dating back to May 30. They enter Thursday night’s action four games behind the now-first-place Braves. The reasons for the slide are myriad, including a rash of injuries, but the players have also simply not played well. Understandably, fans are upset.

It didn’t help when, for the second time in three weeks, shortstop Jean Segura didn’t run hard on a batted ball. On June 3, Segura didn’t run on an infield pop-up that eventually resulted in a season-ending injury to Andrew McCutchen. On Wednesday during the second game of a doubleheader, Segura weakly hit a Max Scherzer pitch to shallow left-center that wasn’t caught. Because he was watching the ball rather than running hard, he had to hold up after a wide turn around first base.

To the surprise of many, Segura wasn’t pulled from the game despite the lack of effort. To the even further surprise of many, manager Gabe Kapler included Segura in Thursday’s lineup against the Nationals, which has otherwise been thoroughly reshuffled. Per Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Kapler said, “Jean is one of our eight best players. I don’t think taking one of our eight best players and our shortstop out of our lineup is what’s best for the Philadelphia Phillies.”

Kapler said he had a long talk with Segura. “I told him that we’re going to address not just him but other players in the clubhouse and we’re going to talk about the highest level of effort and talk about how we can’t win every night but we can win the game of give-a-[hoot] and be undefeated in that category. Then we can protect the Phillies by putting the best lineup together on a nightly basis and not think about making ourselves feel better by sending a message.”

Kapler hit the nail on the head with that last line. Benching Segura only makes fans and pundits feel better by punishing someone for a perceived transgression. But does it actually teach anything, and is it actually beneficial to the team? Maybe to the former, and no to the latter. Matt Winkelman of Baseball Prospectus brought up a great point on Twitter, writing, “The idea that punishment is the only way to solve a problem or change behavior is such a narrow minded idea.” People learn best in different ways. Some might respond well to punishment. Others may just need a good talking-to. It’s a case-by-case thing. Kapler is right to apply nuance to the situation.

So many of baseball’s long-held beliefs have fallen to the wayside in recent years. The idea that a player must always be punished for a lack of effort will hopefully be the next one to be taken out to the dumpster.

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Update: Appropriately, Segura hit a game-tying solo homer. Good thing he wasn’t benched.