This summer’s new reality show: “When Managers Manage!”
“We’ve got to get better, and we’ve got to start stringing together wins,” McClendon said. “That’s the message I’m going to send to my club starting the second half. I’ve given my club a lot of string and allowed them to do a lot of things, but it’s not working and we’ve got to change things . . . You try to stay positive and encourage your club, but maybe it takes prodding of a different nature,” McClendon said. “And if that’s the case, then that’s what I have to do.”
I suppose tone matters, but none of the hands-on or hands-off stuff from McClendon will matter much if no one besides Nelson Cruz swings a decent bat and the bullpen can’t figure it out. As the linked article makes clear, there is not a great chance of the M’s adding any big parts — the Mark Trumbo trade was probably it for them — so the current roster just has to turn it around.
Will McClendon cracking the whip help? Hard to see how. But what else can he do?
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.