- Some Cardinals fans are creating signs to encourage Albert Pujols to re-sign in St. Louis and donating the proceeds to the first baseman's foundation, Yahoo's Jeff Passan reports. Pujols is set to hit free agency after the season and Ron Heinz and his friends want to make sure he stays put.
- The Mets will likely have a payroll of about $120MM next year, according to Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog. Cerrone suggests the Mets haven't yet decided how seriously they'll consider trade offers for Jose Reyes this summer and points out that it's unclear if GM Sandy Alderson intends to offer the shortstop a long-term deal.
- ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick identifies nine key partnerships that have emerged so far this season, including Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp and Jose Bautista and Blue Jays hitting coach Dwayne Murphy.
Ever wonder which GMs have held their positions the longest? Or how many GMs were with their current teams a decade ago? I've compiled the list thanks to Baseball America's executive database. It shows how long GMs have been with their current teams, not when they got their first gig running a team. That list would look different, with Andy MacPhail, Dave Dombrowski and Sandy Alderson at the top (I'm using the term 'GM' loosely; some of the executives below have different titles on their business cards).
The Bay Area has baseball's two longest-tenured GMs, two of the five people on this list to have held their current job for more than a decade. There's been lots of turnover in the past five years, as more than half (17) of baseball's GMs were hired in that time. Here's the complete list:
- Brian Sabean, Giants, 1996
- Billy Beane, Athletics, 1997
- Brian Cashman, Yankees, 1998
- Dan O'Dowd, Rockies, 1999
- Kenny Williams, White Sox, 2000
- Larry Beinfest, Marlins, 2002
- Dave Dombrowski, Tigers, 2002
- Jim Hendry, Cubs, 2002
- Doug Melvin, Brewers, 2002
- Theo Epstein, Red Sox, 2002
- Jon Daniels, Rangers, 2005
- Andrew Friedman, Rays, 2005
- Ned Colletti, Dodgers, 2005
- Dayton Moore, Royals, 2006
- Andy MacPhail, Orioles, 2007
- Bill Smith, Twins, 2007
- Ed Wade, Astros, 2007
- Neal Huntington, Pirates, 2007
- Frank Wren, Braves, 2007
- Tony Reagins, Angels, 2007
- John Mozeliak, Cardinals, 2007
- Walt Jocketty, Reds, 2008
- Jack Zduriencik, Mariners, 2008
- Ruben Amaro, Jr., Phillies, 2008
- Mike Rizzo, Nationals, 2009
- Alex Anthopoulos, Blue Jays, 2009
- Jed Hoyer, Padres, 2009
- Kevin Towers, Diamondbacks, 2010
- Chris Antonetti, Indians, 2010
- Sandy Alderson, Mets, 2010
The latest from the NL West, where the Rockies have built a 4.5 game lead over the Dodgers, the defending World Champions, the D'Backs and the last-place Padres...
- Steve Foster of Inside the Rockies wonders which position player the Rockies will call on when they decide 13 pitchers are no longer a necessity. Ian Stewart, Chris Nelson, Eric Young Jr. and a number of other former big leaguers are among the candidates to join the Rockies.
- Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is essentially facing "the prospect of his second divorce in 18 months," Yahoo's Tim Brown says of MLB's takeover of the club's financial operations. "And the guy who fought his way in will fight more ferociously on his way out, you can be sure of that." Brown hears from a friend of McCourt's that he is a "street fighter" at heart.
- Giants GM Brian Sabean told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that his team isn't left-handed enough. Brandon Belt, who swings from the left side, is playing left and right field in the minors and he'll almost certainly stay in the outfield when he returns to the majors, according to Schulman.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he knows his bosses will consider firing him if the team doesn’t perform. And though he says he wants to stay in the White Sox organization for the rest of his life, Guillen says GM Kenny Williams and owner Jerry Reinsdorf don’t owe him anything.
“If Kenny or Jerry doesn’t think I’m doing my job . . . they’re going to fire me because my players don’t produce,” Guillen told Rosenthal. “I respect that. I don’t mind getting fired. If I get fired, it’s for a reason. What reason? Me.”
Though several rival executives believe the White Sox would be better off without Guillen, at least one team covets the former shortstop as a future skipper. The 15-8 Marlins expressed interest in obtaining the rights to Guillen in the offseason are not currently discussing an extension for manager Edwin Rodriguez, who is on a one-year contract, according to Rosenthal.
Rosenthal notes that the White Sox asked for Logan Morrison in exchange for the right to hire Guillen last offseason, not Mike Stanton. Last fall, many reports indicated that Stanton was at the center of the discussions between the White Sox and Marlins.
In my recent column about how teams replace sudden losses, I wrote that I had some problems with that movie. I figured this would be a relatively uncontroversial statement, but loyal reader Ernesto Figueroa wrote:
Hello! I would love to read more about your problems with the film The Babe starring John Goodman. I really enjoyed the film & want to know more about your criticisms.
Ernesto, I'm glad you asked. I even went back and re-watched. Simply put, I found the writing and directing to be nearly cartoonish, with characters assigned one face that they were required to keep on throughout. I would blame the actors, but when even people like James Cromwell and John Goodman are guilty of it, it pretty much has to be the direction. And Goodman's Ruth magically goes from a child who speaks like he is five until age 30 to a wise old man from 31 through the end of the film.
But this is a baseball site, not Roger Ebert's site. So I will point out the shocking baseball transgressions in the film.
1. John Goodman is morbidly obese from the start. He looks nothing like young Ruth, and his difficulty getting around the bases, during years when Ruth registered double figures in stolen bases, is absurd.
2. Babe Ruth, and you'd think a bio pic would take the time to find this out, was first and foremost a pitcher for many, many years. Yet somehow, we aren't treated to him on the mound until the 34th minute of the film.
3. John Goodman's swing never comes close to the sweetness of the Babe's. Every one of his "home run swings" looks like a foul ball into the first-base stands. He lunges after the ball, swings above it, yet somehow the ball lands over the Forbes Field wall.
4. With the Boston Braves, Goodman is portrayed as a man spitting up blood (he didn't get throat cancer until more than a decade later) who has a runner run out his home runs (against baseball rules, never happened, and the one thing a slowing slugger actually can do is a home run trot). He isn't late-career Babe Ruth; he is late-movie Charles Foster Kane.
I could go on. But look, I am an MLB Trade Rumors writer, so my passion is for transactions. And I think this isn't a small nitpick: the movie, an hour and forty nine minutes long, gives the better part of a minute, thirty seconds to the biggest transaction in baseball history: Babe Ruth to the Yankees.
The deal that spawned decades of misery in Boston, championships and a new stadium in New York, and a legendary career was quite complicated. Ruth wanted a bigger payday, and no wonder - he'd just hit 29 home runs, setting the all-time mark, and posted an OPS+ of 216. He asked for a $10K raise. Boston owner Harry Frazee balked.
The White Sox offered him Shoeless Joe Jackson for Ruth, arguably a poorer long-term asset than the $125K in cash and $300K loan he received from the Yankees. (Jackson was banned from baseball after the 1920 season for his role in the fixing of the 1919 World Series.)
So let's see: two of baseball's most legendary franchises, with a third at the periphery, two of the biggest stars of the era... and it merits about a minute of screen time?
The film wasn't exactly overstuffed with material that couldn't be cut. Maybe leave out one of the six car rides Ruth took with a gang of children. Or, I don't know, one of the two- TWO- scenes at parties where Ruth makes a partygoer pull his finger, with predictable results. Would it surprise you to know both of these scenes lasted longer than the Ruth-to-the-Yankees business?
As for the circumstances that sent Ruth to Boston after the 1934 season, that turned out to be a solid decision for the Yankees. Ruth had just posted a 160 OPS+, though he played in just 125 games at age 39. But Ruth wanted to manage the team, and the Yankees simply didn't think he was ready to be a Major League skipper. Ruth asked for his release, and signed as a free agent with the Braves. In an interesting sidenote, Ruth's 118 OPS+ with Boston would have ranked him above every New York outfielder other than George Selkirk in 1935. And his salary wasn't nearly the $80K it was at his peak; Boston agreed to pay him just $35K.
Ruth to the Braves is explained in greater detail in the film than Ruth to the Yankees, though Yankees owner Colonel Jake Ruppert is as cartoonishly a villain as one can be. Also, Ruth's second wife is given much of the exposition of the situation, but delivers it with an impassioned plea. Somehow, she's very passionate about the business effect Ruth had on baseball approximately 15 years before.
The final scenes, which involve Ruth happening to walk by as the Braves' owner explains, in unnecessarily hostile detail, to no one in particular, why Ruth is just a parlor trick instead of a manager-in-waiting, are particularly slow. The final scene, where a boy Ruth once visited in the hospital in a different city returns to give Ruth back his ball in Pittburgh, takes stretch to a whole new level.
Still, all this could be forgiven if we had one strong five-minute scene with Boston owner Harry Frazee and Ruppert negotiating the deal. Alas, it is not to be. Thus, from a transaction standpoint, I rate The Babe as Designated For Assignment.
THURSDAY: The Pirates officially announced the move this morning.
WEDNESDAY: The Pirates will designate John Bowker for assignment tomorrow morning, according to Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (on Twitter). The Pirates needed to clear 25-man roster space for Xavier Paul, whom the Pirates claimed off of waivers from the Dodgers yesterday.
With Jose Tabata, Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Matt Diaz and Lyle Overbay on the roster and Paul on his way, the Pirates will cut Bowker instead of carrying another outfielder/first baseman. In 18 plate appearances this year, he has a .250/.333/.313 line, not far from his career marks of .238/.289/.391. The 2004 third-rounder has already appeared at first base and in right field, the two positions he has played most often in his four big league seasons.
After consecutive disappointing seasons, Kyle Lohse is averaging nearly 8.0 IP per start this year and has a 1.64 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9. Lohse, who signed a $41MM deal with the Cardinals in 2008, is living up to his contract so far in 2011. Here are today's links...
- Tom Schieffer says he wants to be helpful, not disruptive, when he takes over the Dodgers' day to day operations and finances, according to Quinn Roberts of MLB.com. Earlier today, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt sounded intensely displeased with MLB's involvement in L.A.
- Dontrelle Willis does not have an out clause in his contract with the Reds, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The left-hander has a 1.12 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 24 innings at Triple-A Louisville so far in 2011.
- TCU is set to announce that left-hander Matt Purke has been cleared to return to the mound, according to MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo. That's excellent news for Purke, who was recently shut down with shoulder soreness and evaluated by Dr. James Andrews. Click here for MLBTR's Q&A with Purke.
The Angels designated right-hander Jason Bulger for assignment, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times (on Twitter). The Halos optioned Matt Palmer to Triple-A, and activated Joel Pineiro and Scott Downs from the disabled list in corresponding moves.
Bulger, 32, has a sparkling 0.96 ERA in 9 1/3 innings this year. However, he has walked more batters (10) than he has struck out (7). Opponents have hit just .167 on balls in play and Bulger's 7.54 FIP and 6.14 xFIP suggest his ERA should probably be 5-6 runs higher than it is.
Bulger has a 4.33 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 5.1 BB/9 in 133 career innings, all but 10 of them with the Angels. The seven-year veteran has pitched in manager Mike Scioscia's bullpen every year since 2006.
Commissioner Bud Selig worries about the Mets, but grants them more leeway than the Dodgers because their owners have built up goodwill over the course of three decades, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, on the other hand, has been far from a model owner since buying the team, which led to MLB’s recent takeover of financial operations. Here’s the latest on the Dodgers, plus other notes from around the league:
- McCourt took out a $25MM loan in September as well as a recent $30MM loan from FOX, according to Heyman.
- Though McCourt signed paperwork guaranteeing that he wouldn’t sue MLB, he’s considering legal action. He didn't rule the possibility out earlier this evening.
- One competing GM says he's surprised by the Indians' hot start. He expected the Tribe to be horrible after seeing them this spring, but they are now 15-8, in first place.
- A Red Sox person says Carl Crawford’s slow start (.163/.209/.233 line so far) doesn’t necessarily have to do with playing for a new team or with a new $142MM contract. His .188 BABIP probably has a lot to do with it.
- The Braves are concerned about their offense, according to Heyman.
The Astros released right-hander Fernando Nieve to allow him to sign with a Korean team, according to Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). The Pirates signed Nieve in December and released him in March, when he didn't make the Opening Day roster. Two days later, Nieve signed with the Astros.
Nieve, 28, pitched 42 innings for the Mets in 2010, posting a 6.00 ERA with 8.1 K/9, 4.7 BB/9, 2.1 HR/9 and a 37% ground ball rate before he was Mets granted him free agency. No pitcher who completed 40 innings or more matched Nieve's 18.5% HR/FB rate last year.
The Venezuela native has started three games for the Astros' Triple-A affiliate this year, posting a 7.63 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 15 1/3 innings.