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Tony Clark calls Bill James’ comments ‘reckless and insulting’

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As Bill wrote last night, father of Sabermetrics Bill James, now a senior advisor on baseball operations for the Red Sox, had quite a night on Twitter. He talked about players being overpaid and, when it was suggested that some were underpaid, he sarcastically said “my heart bleeds for them.” He went on to say “If the players all retired tomorrow, we would replace them, the game would go on; in three years it would make no difference whatsoever . . . The players are NOT the game, any more than the beer vendors are.”

While that may a be sentiment some fans have regarding the value of players, it was quite a thing to hear from someone high up in the baseball operations department of a major league baseball team. Indeed, it was such a thing that this morning it elicited a strong response from MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark, who just issued the following statement:

The Comments Bill James made yesterday were both reckless and insulting considering our game’s history regarding the use of replacement players. The Players ARE the game. And our fans have the opportunity to enjoy the most talented baseball Players in the world every season. If these sentiments resonate beyond this one individual, then any challenges that lie ahead will be more difficult to overcome than initially anticipated.”

I’m sure Tony Clark knows this already, but those sentiments do resonate beyond Bill James. Indeed, it’s certainly the case that a great many people in baseball front offices believe that the players are not as important a part of the game as they actually are and, at the very least, would be fascinated with the opportunity that a mass retirement of players would present. I suspect that if they are critical of the 1995 replacement player scandal, they are no doubt mostly critical of the sloppy way the plan was implemented, not the existence of the plan itself. It is the age-old owner vs. worker dynamic, which applies to baseball just as it does any other industry.

The difference is that, in baseball, management has spent the past 20 years or so learning not to say such things out loud. James’ offense here, from the point of view of baseball teams, is likely giving voice to that quiet part.

 

Report: Nathan Eovaldi drawing interest from at least nine teams

Nathan Eovaldi
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Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.

Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.

A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.