The 2014 Winter Meetings in Review

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These past few days in San Diego were borderline crazy. The Dodgers turned over a huge portion of their roster. The Cubs and White Sox made all kinds of noise. The Phillies finally began their tear-down and, perhaps, their rebuild. The Tigers and Red Sox shuffled and reloaded. The Yankees acted like some small market team. The Marlins and Reds, well, we’re not entirely sure what they did. It’s almost too much to keep track of.

But that’s why HardballTalk is here, dear readers. Below are links to the highlights of these few days in December when the past season was put in the rear view mirror for good and the foundations for the next season were laid:

The biggest deal: Jon Lester signed with the Cubs for $155 million. And here’s what the deal means for him, the Cubs and the Red Sox.

The next biggest: Matt Kemp was traded by the Dodgers to the Padres.

The Dodgers signed Brandon McCarthy to a four-year deal.

The White Sox signed closer David Robertson to a four-year deal. And the Yankees never even made him an offer. For that matter, the Yankees didn’t make an offer for McCarthy either.

But that’s not all! The White Sox also traded for Jeff Samardzija.

The end of an era in Philly: Jimmy Rollins was traded to the Dodgers.

Yoenis Cespedes (and some other guys) was traded to the Tigers for Rick Porcello (and some other guys)

The Tigers then traded for the Reds’ Alfredo Simon to replace Porcello in the rotation.

The Reds then traded another starter, Mat Latos, to Miami. Who’s gonna pitch in Cincinnati, you guys?

The Red Sox rotation makeover continued with the acquisition of Wade Miley and the signing of Justin Masterson.

The Dodgers traded Dee Gordon and Dan Haren to Miami for Andrew Heaney and some other guys. Haren may retire, however.

Oh, and the Dodgers didn’t really want Heaney anyway: they flipped him to the Angels for Howie Kendrick a few hours later. Heaney nonetheless looked back fondly on his many, many minutes as a Los Angeles Dodger.

The Twins signed Ervin Santana for $54 million

The Cubs re-signed Jason Hammel, showing that you can go home again. They also traded for Dbacks catcher Miguel Montero.

The Astros did some bullpen work: they signed Luke Gregerson and then they turned around and signed Pat Neshek.

The Veteran’s Committee had ONE job — to induct someone to the Hall of Fame — and it failed to do so.

The Rays reached an agreement allowing them to look for a new stadium. And, if they don’t get a new stadium, they’ll probably be sold and moved.

We learned that Madison Bumgarner once dated someone named Madison Bumgarner.

The Braves signed infielder/utilityman Alberto Callaspo.

The Royals signed DH Kendrys Morales.

Tom Gage of the Detroit News won the Spink Award. On the broadcasting side, Dick Enberg won the Frick Award.

The Angels acquired a guy who may be the worst hitter in baseball.

The Baseball Writers Association of America made a recommendation regarding the Hall of Fame ballot, but it was lame.

The Braves made an offer everyone will pretty much easily refuse.

The Pirates got Antonio Bastardo from the Phillies.

The Rangers acquired Ross Detwiler from the Nationals

The Rockies sent infielder Josh Rutledge to the Angels for a good relief pitcher.

The Cardinals got Mark Reynolds for some reason.

Nyjer Morgan is raging against the dying of the light: he’s going to go play in Korea.

Scott Boras did what Scott Boras does best.

Finally, I ranked all 30 major league managers by handsomeness again. Because that’s what’s really important.

I think we all need a breather now. Baseball can stop for a few days while we get our bearings if it would like to. Indeed, that’d be much appreciated.

 

Neal Huntington thinks players should be allowed to re-enter games after concussion testing

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Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has suffered many concussions throughout his 12-year career, was hit on the back of the helmet on a Joc Pederson backswing Saturday against the Dodgers. Through Cervelli remained in the game initially, he took himself out of the game shortly thereafter and went on the seven-day concussion injured list on Sunday.

Perhaps inspired by Saturday’s event, Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggested that players should be allowed to re-enter games once they have passed concussion tests, the Associated Press reports. Huntington said, “Any player that had an obvious concussion risk incident should be allowed to be removed from the game, taken off the field, taken into the locker room, assessed by a doctor, assessed by a trainer, go through an extended period of time and then re-enter the game. Because right now, all of this has to happen on the field.”

Huntington added, “The player has to feel pressure as he’s standing there with 30,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 eyes on him. He has to feel pressure to make a decision whether (he’s) in or (he’s) out of this game. He knows if he takes himself out and he’s the catcher, there’s only one other catcher, and the game becomes a fiasco if that other catcher gets hurt.”

Huntington, who has been forward-thinking on a number of other issues, has it wrong here. The concussion protocols were created because players frequently hid or under-reported their injuries in order to remain in the game. Especially for younger or otherwise less-proven players, there is pressure to have to constantly perform in order to keep one’s job. Furthermore, there is an overarching sentiment across sports that taking time off due to injury makes one weak. Similarly, playing while injured is seen as tough and masculine. Creating protocols that take the decision-making out of players’ hands keeps them from making decisions that aren’t in their own best interests. Removing them would bring back that pressure for players to hide or minimize their ailments. If anything, MLB’s concussion protocols should become more stringent, not more relaxed.

The powers that be with Major League Baseball have no doubt followed the concussion scandal surrounding the National Football League. In January, the NFL settled for over $1 billion with retired players dealing with traumatic brain injuries, including dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. For years, the league refused to acknowledge the link between playing football and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia and has many negative effects, such as increasing the risk of suicide. Since baseball isn’t often a contact sport, MLB doesn’t have to worry about brain injuries to this degree, but it still needs to take preventative measures in order to avoid billion-dollar lawsuits as well as avoiding P.R. damage. In December 2012, former major league outfielder Ryan Freel committed suicide. Freel, who claimed to have suffered as many as 10 concussions, suffered from CTE. MLB players can suffer brain injuries just like football players.

Huntington seems to be worried about not having enough rostered catchers in the event one or two catchers get injured. That is really an issue of roster management. Carrying only two catchers on the roster is a calculated risk, often justified. Huntington can ensure his team never has to be put in the position of not having a catcher in an emergency by rostering a third catcher. Rosters are expanding to 26 players next year, by the way.