Front Office Notes: Zduriencik, Dipoto, Anthopoulos

Jack Zduriencik’s tenure with the Mariners was characterized by long streams of firings, resignations and strife, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes. Those began early in Zduriencik’s time in Seattle, with Zduriencik apparently frequently blaming others for the team’s problems under his leadership. Baker prints excerpts of a rather amazing email from Zduriencik to then-manager Don Wakamatsu about the struggling 2010 team in which Zduriencik seemed to blame his staff for the failures of the players he had acquired the previous offseason. “When putting this club together throughout the winter, everyone was involved,” Zduriencik wrote. “I asked many questions about the acquired players this offseason and in all cases moved forward to acquire or refrain from acquiring a player based on received recommendations.” He also suggested that the struggles of that 101-loss 2010 team might be due to a “lack of urgency and preparation,” implying that the coaching staff was to blame. The Mariners finally fired Zduriencik this week. Here’s more on front offices.

  • Former Angels GM Jerry Dipoto looks likely to be a talked-about name as the many teams with vacant GM positions search for candidates, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi writes. Dipoto appears likely to be a candidate for both the Brewers and Mariners jobs. The Mariners have said they will prioritize experience (which, obviously, Dipoto has), and Morosi notes that Dipoto was a finalist for the Mariners GM job years ago, when the team ultimately hired Zduriencik.
  • The Blue Jays are still seeking a team president, but when they hire one, that person will endure criticism if he or she fires GM Alex Anthopoulos, Morosi says. Anthopoulos’ acquisitions of veterans like Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, Troy Tulowitzki and David Price have helped propel the Blue Jays to first place in the AL East. The team’s decision to keep Anthopoulos shouldn’t be a difficult one, Morosi says.

Week In Review: 8/22/15 – 8/28/15

Here’s a look back at this week at MLBTR.

Key Move

  • The Mariners fired GM Jack Zduriencik.

Trades

Claims

Designated For Assignment

Outrights

Released

Retired

Key Minor League Signings


Full Story | 0 Comments | Categories: Week In Review

AL East Notes: Buchholz, Red Sox Front Office, Hanley, Shapiro, Tolleson

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski says that righty Clay Buchholz is done for the year, as Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald tweets. The new top Boston baseball decisionmaker added that he sees it as an easy call to exercise a $12MM option to keep Buchholz — if he is healthy. That’s an important proviso, of course, though the Sox should have time to assess his recovery before making a final decision.

  • Dombrowski spoke with the press today as he accompanied the Red Sox on the road for the first time, as Tim Britton of the Providence Journal reports. While the offseason is still a ways away, he’s still short on time. “There’s going to be some shortcomings that are just going to fall through the cracks,” he explained. “I can’t see the minor-league clubs; I just don’t have enough time to be able to do that.” Before deciding on any additions or subtractions to his front office group, Dombrowski says, he’s working to get to know his current staff. “You just have to really do your homework to get to know people and to get to know whose opinions you can feel you really trust,” said the incoming executive. “… The people here will know the players better than I will.”
  • While the Red Sox front office composition remains to be seen, one prominent member is already on his way out. Pro scouting director Jared Porter is heading to the Cubs, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com tweets. It’s important to note that, as Britton explains, Dombrowski indicated that at least one front office member was departing (quite possibly Porter) in a move that had already been in the works before his arrival.
  • Dombrowski also touched upon the Red Sox‘ pending move of Hanley Ramirez to first base, as Britton further reports“It just seemed to make sense” to try the veteran out at the position, he explained. “Not that you have to rush it, but it gives us some time to get him out there. I wouldn’t want to say, ‘Let’s wait until spring training and let’s see if he can do it.’ What happens if he can’t do it? You really need to know that more so now.”
  • If the Blue Jays are going to land Indians president Mark Shapiro to fill that role in Toronto, they may well do so in the coming days, according to Joe Vardon of the Plain Dealer. A source says that “closure” on Shapiro’s status is expected in short order. We learned earlier today that Cleveland has authorized him to meet with the Jays.
  • There’s something of an unusual situation brewing between the Blue Jays and infielder Steve Tolleson, who is on the temporarily inactive list at Triple-A, as John Lott of the National Post writes. Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos said that Tolleson “just decided he didn’t want to play anymore,” while Tolleson says he’s injured. The question is whether Tolleson was injured when he was designated for assignment by the club, the argument being that he should (if that was the case) be earning a major league salary from the MLB disabled list.


Front Office Notes: Brewers, Reds, Levine, Mariners

Here are the latest notes involving front office (and managerial) matters around the league:

  • The Brewers are “finalizing” a list of candidates to interview for their open GM position, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. It seems that Milwaukee is preparing to take a close look at a variety of possibilities in finding a successor for Doug Melvin, though, so it’s likely that the process is still a long ways from completion.
  • Reds owner Bob Castellini said yesterday that the club will not make any moves regarding manager Bryan Price during the season, as John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. But Castellini did say that the organization will “look at everything after the season,” and declined to give any assurances as to how the team will handle Price and GM Walt Jocketty, each of whom remains under contract for one more year. Despite a tough year and questionable outlook, Castellini indicated that he still has hopes of contending in 2016. “We’re down but not out,” he said. “I don’t think next year will be a waste. We don’t have the mindset that we’re not going to contend. We’re not giving up on the year.”
  • Thad Levine has been an integral part of the Rangers front office, explains Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, who suggests the time may be right for the club to make him its general manager while moving Jon Daniels into the role of team president. Otherwise, warns Grant, Levine could be a prime candidate for the GM jobs opening elsewhere in the league.
  • Mariners president Kevin Mather clarified his comments from earlier today regarding manager Lloyd McClendon, as Larry Stone of the Seattle Times tweets. Mather said that the organization’s new GM will have final say as to the field staff, though he plans to recommend that McClendon be retained. Meanwhile, it would appear that Seattle is preparing to keep attempting to put a contending club on the field in the near future. Mather said that he’s not concerned that ownership will look to trim payroll for 2016, as the Times’ Ryan Divish notes on Twitter.
  • Mather also indicated that the Mariners will consider their internal options in the general manager hunt, including acting GM Jeff Kingston, as the AP’s Tim Booth tweets. But the organization’s preference is to find a candidate with more experience, Mather added.

Blue Jays Claim Danny Dorn

The Blue Jays have claimed first baseman/outfielder Danny Dorn off waivers from the Diamondbacks, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter. He’ll be optioned to Triple-A, per the report.

Dorn is in a somewhat unusual situation for a claimed player. After spending parts of seven seasons at the Triple-A level, the 31-year-old only saw his first chance at the big leagues this year. But his short stint with Arizona was short and unproductive.

That being said, Dorn has produced strong power and on-base numbers over his minor league career. And he is destroying the Triple-A level this year, with 305 plate appearances of .386/.444/.618 hitting.


Heyman’s Latest: Castro, Shapiro, Davis, Anderson, Brewers, Phils

Within his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that displaced Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has joined Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez as struggling former stars that have cleared waivers. (The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo first reported that Ramirez and Sandoval cleared waivers.) The Cubs had a few trade discussions pertaining to Castro prior to the July 31 non-waiver deadline, per Heyman, and they’ll likely revisit trade talks this winter. As for Sandoval, Heyman hears that there are not active discussions at the moment, although one can easily imagine new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski exploring ways to shed that sizable commitment this offseason.

Some more highlights from Heyman’s latest column…

  • Indians president Mark Shapiro has been given permission to meet with the Blue Jays about their opening, per the report. The veteran Cleveland executive is “believed” to sit atop Toronto’s wish list, and Heyman says there’s an increasing expectation that he’ll end up moving over to the Jays.
  • Chris Davis is in line for a significant payday this offseason, but the Orioles aren’t likely to be the ones writing the check. Heyman hears that two years ago, following Davis’ brilliant 53-homer campaign, agent Scott Boras was eyeing Joey Votto’s 10-year, $225MM contract as a comp. Granted, Davis’ reduced production since that time has almost certainly lowered the asking price, but I personally agree with the assessment of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes in his latest Free Agent Power Rankings: Davis is in line for a nine-figure contract, which seems beyond Baltimore’s traditional comfort levels.
  • Though some were surprised to see Brett Anderson land a $10MM guarantee from the Dodgers due to his injury history, Heyman hears that the Dodgers may be considering an even more surprising move: extending a qualifying offer to the injury-prone hurler. Anderson, in my eyes, would be a risky candidate for such an offer, but there’s reason enough that the Dodgers could make that call. For one, the team can afford a $16MM investment in an injury-prone pitcher, and Anderson’s worth close to that kind of cash when healthy. Secondly, Anderson’s coming off one of the lone healthy seasons of his career and may see this as his best chance to cash in on a multi-year deal. He could see the only downside as another one-year deal worth $10MM+, meaning he’d be risking around $6MM for a chance at quite a bit more.
  • The Brewers are expected to take “well into next month” in their search for a new general manager and are interested in pursuing non-traditional candidates. We’ve heard several possibilities batted around, and Heyman says he’s heard at least some chatter about Athletics assistant GM Dan Kantrovitz and Red Sox special assistant Jerry Dipoto.
  • While the Phillies could have their own front office changes to make, Heyman says it’s still possible that Ruben Amaro Jr. could not only stay in the organization in some capacity, but keep the GM chair.
  • In a separate piece, Heyman also takes an interesting look at the thirty best deals made over the last year. There’s certainly a good case to be made for his top choice: the Blue Jays’ acquisition of Josh Donaldson.

Minor MLB Transactions: 8/28/15

Here are today’s minor moves:

  • The Yankees announced that lefty Chris Capuano has been outrighted. Thus far, Capuano’s most recent trip through DFA limbo is taking the same course as the previous three that have occurred in the last month. Odds are that Capuano will again take up residence in Triple-A and then move back to the big league roster after rosters expand at the end of the month. MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch spoke with Capuano and GM Brian Cashman for an interesting story on the somewhat unusual situation.

Rangers Designate Chris Rearick For Assignment

The Rangers have designated lefty Chris Rearick for assignment, according to club executive VP of communications John Blake. Texas will promote a fellow southpaw relief option in 22-year-old Andrew Faulkner.

The move comes just one day after Rearick was claimed off waivers from the Padres and optioned to Triple-A. It is certainly possible that the Rangers added the 27-year-old with hopes of slipping him through waivers themselves. That would allow the team to hold him in its minor league system while not occupying a 40-man spot.


Rockies Designate Ken Roberts For Assignment

The Rockies have designated left-handed pitcher Ken Roberts for assignment in order to clear space on the 40-man roster for fellow lefty Jason Gurka, tweets Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post.

Roberts, 27, made his Major League debut for the Rox in 2015, appearing in nine games and totaling 9 1/3 innings with a 5.79 ERA and a five-to-two K/BB ratio. A longtime farmhand of the Rockies, Roberts was selected in the 25th round of the 2010 draft and posted strong minor league numbers until reaching Triple-A for the first time this season. However, while Roberts has an unsightly 5.12 ERA in Triple-A this year, he’s posted an outstanding 28-to-4 K/BB ratio in 31 2/3 innings there. He’s surrendered a surprising and uncharacteristic 14.2 hits per nine innings in a very hitter-friendly Albuquerque environment due to a freakishly high .443 BABIP. While poor luck and a hitter-friendly environment probably aren’t solely to blame for his Triple-A struggles, there seems to be good reason to expect that Roberts would not continue to allow hits at such an alarming rate.

Gurka, also 27, is a former 15th-round pick of the Orioles (2008). He’s worked to a more palatable 2.86 ERA with 7.6 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 in 63 innings between Double-A and Triple-A this year. Opposing lefties have hit .208/.310/.264 in 2015 versus Gurka, who will also be making his big league debut when he first takes the mound for the Rockies.


Cardinals Hire Randy Flores As Director Of Amateur Scouting

The Cardinals have hired former Major League left-hander Randy Flores as their new director of amateur scouting, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cards looked at candidates from other teams before turning to Flores, who retired from the game as a player following the 2010 season, per Goold.

Since retiring, the now-40-year-old Flores returned to USC to complete a master’s degree in education and serve as the baseball team’s assistant coach. He also founded his own company, OnDeck Digital, which uses video capture technology to allow baseball and softball players to critique their own game. Scouts also use the technology to gain access to of video on prospects/players, and 11 Major League teams currently use the service, Goold adds.

Flores spent parts of five seasons in the Cardinals’ bullpen, totaling a 4.35 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 178 innings. He totaled 250 innings in the Majors, working primarily as a left-handed specialist and accumulating a career ERA of 4.61. Flores won a World Series ring with St. Louis in 2006.

The need for a scouting director, of course, is due to the firing of former director Chris Correa, who was dismissed earlier this summer after admitting to having a role in the Cardinals’ breach of the Astros’ computer network.


Denard Span To Undergo Season-Ending Hip Surgery

AUG. 28: Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports (on Twitter) that Span is set to undergo season-ending hip surgery next Tuesday. The issue is in his hip labrum, manager Matt Williams tells reporters including Mark Zuckerman of Comcast SportsNet (Twitter link).

AUG. 27: Nationals center fielder Denard Span is headed back to the disabled list with inflammation in his left hip, and as Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington writes, this most recent injury may very well bring his season to a close.

This will be Span’s third and seemingly final trip to the disabled list in 2015 — an unfortunate series of events for any player, but particularly for Span, who is eligible for free agency for the first time at season’s end. If his season is indeed done, injuries will have limited the 31-year-old to just 61 games. Of course, his production in those 61 games has been excellent; Span has totaled a .301/.365/.431 batting line with five homers and 11 stolen bases.

Defensive metrics were down on Span in 2015, though injuries may have played a part in his deteriorated rankings, as Span does come with a reputation as a plus defender in center field. After beginning the season on the disabled list due to offseason core muscle surgery, Span again landed on the disabled list in early July due to back spasms. He returned from the DL just three days ago, but his stay on the active roster will be a brief one. As Zuckerman writes, the string of injuries were very likely related to one another.

Manager Matt Williams told Zuckerman and other reporters that while it’s not clear if Span will return in 2015, he would “imagine it’s going to be very tough for him to get back.” The loss of Span, of course, further dampens the playoff hopes of what has been a disappointing Nationals club in 2015. Though Washington emerged victorious tonight, so too did the division-leading Mets. Picked by most (myself included) to win the division, the Nationals instead trail the Mets by 6.5 games and are an even more distant nine games back in the NL Wild Card race.

Compounding matters for the Nationals is the fact that rookie outfielder Michael Taylor — Span’s likely replacement — left tonight’s game with a knee injury suffered when crashing into the outfield wall. It’s not known how long Taylor will be sidelined, but Zuckerman notes that center fielder Matt den Dekker, who would’ve been a September call-up anyhow, will presumably be called up as a corresponding move to replace Span.


Unknown Team Claims Kimbrel On Revocable Waivers; Trade Unlikely

Padres closer Craig Kimbrel has been claimed on revocable waivers by an unknown club, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). However, a club official tells Rosenthal that the Padres have no intention of trading Kimbrel.

Kimbrel is earning $9MM in 2015 as part of a four-year, $42MM contract extension signed with the Braves, and he’s owed about $1.87MM of that sum through season’s end. He’s owed $25MM on top of that sum through the 2017 season, including a $1MM buyout on a $13MM club option for the 2018 season.

After a rocky start to the season in which Kimbrel posted a 5.93 ERA through his first 15 appearances, Kimbrel has been characteristically outstanding. Since May 16, Kimbrel has a 1.73 ERA with a 49-to-13 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings and collecting 26 saves in 27 opportunities.

Acquired in a stunning blockbuster trade on the eve of Opening Day, Kimbrel came to the Padres alongside Melvin Upton Jr. in exchange for outfield prospect Jordan Paroubeck, right-hander Matt Wisler, a Competitive Balance (Round A) Draft Pick and the contracts of Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin (the latter of whom was immediately designated for assignment and released). Kimbrel drew significant interest prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but GM A.J. Preller elected to hold onto the four-time All-Star and former Rookie of the Year.


Early Notes On The Mariners’ GM Search

Earlier today, the Mariners announced that they’ve dismissed GM Jack Zduriencik. Assistant GM Jeff Kingston will serve as GM on an interim basis as the Mariners look for a new GM. Here are some takeaways from president Kevin Mather’s press conference with the Seattle media and comments/rumors on the search for a new GM…

  • Mather will begin his search immediately and hopes to have a new GM in place by early October, tweets MLB.com’s Greg Johns. He plans to spend the month of September looking at and interviewing candidates.
  • Mather’s preference is to hire an experienced general manager, tweets Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. He will handle the search personally, Divish adds, and he specifically referenced that he doesn’t want to waste the remaining prime years of Robinson Cano, Felix Hernandez and Nelson Cruz while a new GM learns on the job for an offseason or two. Meanwhile, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune tweets that Mather will not wait for candidates that aren’t able to interview until after the postseason; he does not want to wait that long to have a new top decision-maker in place.
  • Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN tweets that Mather spoke to manager Lloyd McClendon and expressed full confidence in him, telling his skipper, “at the end of the day, you will work for [the] new GM.” It appears (particularly in light of his later comments) that Mather meant those words as an indication that McClendon’s fate will ultimately be determined by the organization’s new hire, rather than as an assurance of job security.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Mariners have already been quietly reaching out to potential GM candidates. Former Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd is one exec to whom Seattle has spoken. O’Dowd’s name has also come up in connection to the Red Sox’ GM opening.
  • ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick notes that former Marlins GM Larry Beinfest, who is looking to return to a front office, first broke in with the Mariners (Twitter links). Other names that have been speculatively linked to the Mariners include Rangers AGM Thad Levine, former Angels GM Jerry Dipoto, Indians AGM Mike Chernoff and Yankees AGM Billy Eppler, he adds.
  • Zduriencik’s final move as GM was to option Mike Zunino to Triple-A, tweets Drayer. Zduriencik said the demotion was in Zunino’s best interest. “Just a breather, a break,” Zduriencik explained. “We would have liked to have done it sooner.” Zunino, of course, will likely be back before too long. Rosters expand on Sept. 1, and the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate will see its regular season close on Sept. 7. In the meantime, John Hicks will be promoted and make his Major League debut.

Mariners Fire GM Jack Zduriencik

The Mariners announced today that general manager Jack Zduriencik has been relieved of his duties, effective immediately. Assistant GM Jeff Kingston will assume Zduriencik’s responsibilities on an interim basis through season’s end, according to the team. In a press release announcing the front office shakeup, Mariners president Kevin Mather offered the following statement:

Jack Zduriencik

“We have reached the point when change of leadership of our baseball operations is needed for the Seattle Mariners to reach our goal of winning championships. We are very disappointed with the results this season, and are not satisfied with the current operation. The search for a permanent general manager will begin immediately, and while there is no deadline, we expect to have a new GM in place as soon as practical. We have great respect for Jack and his work ethic. He was an excellent representative of the Mariners both within the game of baseball and in the community. On behalf of the entire organization, I wish him and (his wife) Debbie all the best, and thank him for all his efforts.”

Zduriencik came to the Mariners with a scouting background from his time with the Brewers, but Seattle hasn’t drafted well under his watch. The Mariners twice had the No. 2 overall pick under Zduriencik, but neither player selected — Dustin Ackley (2009) or Danny Hultzen (2011) — has contributed much, if anything, to the Mariners’ success. Seattle selection of Mike Zunino with the No. 3 overall pick in 2012 may yet prove to be a successful move, but Zunino was rushed to the Majors and has batted just .193/.252/.353 as a big leaguer. Of course, the selection of Kyle Seager in the third round back in 2009 will go down as one of the best picks made that year. James Paxton and Taijuan Walker may yet prove to be prudent selections, though both have battled health issues, and neither has established himself relative to his lofty prospect status just yet.

Building a productive lineup in an environment that naturally suppresses offense has long been an issue for the Mariners, and Zduriencik was unable to solve the problem either. His offseason signing of Nelson Cruz has helped guide the Mariners to their best offensive output in Zduriencik’s seven-year tenure as GM (at least in terms of park-adjusted metrics like wRC+ and OPS+), but the Mariners still rank 24th in runs scored this season. Under Zduriencik, Seattle has never ranked better than 19th in the Majors in runs scored (the only time they ranked better than the bottom third of the league), and they’ve twice scored the fewest runs in all of Major League Baseball.

The decision to sign Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240MM was made with an eye on winning immediately, and while the Mariners came very close in 2014, they’re nowhere near contention in 2015. That contract will likely hinder the organization for years to come, even if Cano can continue his second-half rebound and perform well over the next couple of seasons, and the opportunity to capitalize on his prime seasons will wane with each non-contending year.

Zduriencik, of course, did have his successes as a general manager. Under his watch, the team signed ace Felix Hernandez to a seven-year, $175MM contract that included five years and $135.5MM of new money. That contract runs through the 2019 season and includes a conditional $1MM club option that comes into play in the event that King Felix ever spends more than 130 consecutive days on the disabled list due to elbow surgery. To this point, Hernandez has made good on his end of the deal, which will conclude after his age-33 season. Zduriencik also made one of the most shrewd pitching acquisitions in recent history when he landed righty Hisashi Iwakuma on a one-year, $1.5MM contract prior to the 2012 season. Iwakuma proved to be an excellent buy, and the two-year, $14MM extension (which included a $7MM club option for the current season) yielded one of the highest returns on investment in recent memory.

On the trade front, Zduriencik notably oversaw the acquisition of Cliff Lee from the Phillies — a move in which he acquired one of baseball’s best arms but gave up virtually nothing in the way of future value. However, Zduriencik also failed to recoup much value when eventually dealing Lee away to the division-rival Rangers, as centerpiece Justin Smoak had a middling career with Seattle. Smoak was one of several high-profile hitting prospects that didn’t pan out with the Mariners; Jesus Montero stands out as another much-ballyhooed prospect that has not developed as hoped, and Zduriencik parted with Michael Pineda in order to bring him to the Pacific Northwest. Acquisitions of Austin Jackson and Mark Trumbo, more recently, have failed to yield dividends.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


MLB Wins Collusion Case Versus Barry Bonds

Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz has ruled in favor of Major League Baseball over Barry Bonds in the case of Bonds’ allegations of collusion against him following the 2007 season, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports.

Word of Bonds’ plans to pursue legal action first broke back in May, and Heyman reported at the time that Bonds had waited until the resolution of successfully-challenged felony charges (obstruction of justice) before attempting to take action against the league. Heyman now writes that Bonds worked with MLBPA lawyers in an effort to use circumstantial evidence to prove that teams conspired against him to keep him out of the game following what was a brilliant 2007 season.

Though he played much of that 2007 campaign at the age of 42 and would’ve been 43 heading into the 2008 season, Bonds put together a .276/.480/.565 batting line with 28 homers. That sky-high .480 OBP unsurprisingly led the league — the sixth time he had led the league in that category in a span of seven seasons. Nevertheless, Bonds’ then-agent Jeff Borris said early in the 2008 season that he did not receive a single offer — even one at the league minimum — for his client. Bonds even went so far as to publicly offer to play for the league minimum midway through that offseason, Heyman notes, but no offers emerged.

Heyman writes that “there was no smoking gun” in Bonds’ case, and Horowitz did not find Bonds’ side to be compelling enough to rule in his favor. Indeed, it’d be difficult to necessarily prove that there was definitive conspiracy against Bonds in spite of the fact that it was surprising at the time that no team — even an AL team with a need at DH — was willing to take on Bonds’ baggage and defensive limitations in exchange for the upside of one of the most potent bats in the game’s history.