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Alex Anthopoulos Rumors
Barring an epic collapse, the Mets and Yankees will reach the postseason together for the first time since 2006, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. In fact, the Mets clinched the NL East just a few minutes ago. Sherman takes a look at how both New York franchises reached October baseball via important offseason and trade deadline moves. Here’s more on Sandy Alderson, Brian Cashman, and others.
- Alderson whiffed on his offseason moves for a second year in a row, per Sherman. Sean Gilmartin, a solid middle reliever, was the best acquisition. Alderson forfeited the Mets’ first round pick and a bundle of cash to sign Michael Cuddyer. That move has seemingly backfired. A lack of depth hurt the club until mid-season when he acquired Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe, Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed, and Yoenis Cespedes. The promotion of Michael Conforto has also helped.
- The Yankees experiencedÃÂ the polar opposite story. Cashman’s only in-season move of note was the acquisition of Dustin Ackley. However, he spiked the offseason. Rather than invest in more expensive, old players, Cashman focused on youth. First, he gambled that closer Andrew Miller could match the production of former Yankee David Robertson for less money. Cashman was right, and he earned a compensation pick when the White Sox inked Robertson. He also did well to acquire Didi Gregorius and Nathan Eovaldi (if Eovaldi can avoid a second Tommy John surgery).
- While Alderson and Cashman have been vindicated, they won’t win the executive of the year. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos may have had the biggest impact on his roster by acquiring Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, Devon Travis, David Price, and Troy Tulowitzki. However, those players were costly – both in prospects and financially.
- Royals GM Dayton Moore is another candidate for top executive. He made a couple unpopular moves that have turned out well, especially the signings of Kendrys Morales and Edinson Volquez. He also acquired Kris Medlen, Ryan Madson, Johnny Cueto, and Ben Zobrist. The club ran away with the AL Central after their surprising success in 2014.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels has surged up the list. His club was treading water when he traded for Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman at the July deadline. Now Texas is on the cusp of clinching the AL West. He also added Yovani Gallardo prior to the season. Sam Dyson and Mike Napoli were smaller in-season moves. While the acquisition of Hamels may have reinvigorated the club, I still wonder how history will view the trade.
- Meanwhile, Pirates GM Neal Huntington works below the radar, but his role in rostering Francisco Liriano, A.J. Burnett, Francisco Cervelli, Jung-ho Kang, Aramis Ramirez, J.A. Happ, and others should not be underestimated. The club’s depth and versatility is a big reason for their success.
- The Braves may have the second worst record in baseball, but GM John Hart did well to accept reality and rebuild. His remodeling should help the club prepare to contend in 2017 when their new stadium opens. In the process, Hart cleared dead weight off the payroll and improved the farm system dramatically. Personally, my favorite move was the creative swap for Touki Toussaint.
Barry Zito tossed an inning in the Athletics‘ 5-1 loss to the Astros today, marking his first Major League appearance since 2013. It wasn’t exactly a triumphant return (Zito allowed a hit, a walk and a two-run homer to Colby Rasmus in his one inning) but it still represented a milestone for the veteran southpaw, who worked his way back to the Show after sitting out 2014 and spending most of this season at Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate. Here’s more from around the game as we begin a new week…
- David Stearns was involved in all facets of baseball operations as the Astros’ assistant GM, which Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets was one of the many reasons why the Brewers wanted him as their new general manager. Stearns’ multi-tasking ability made him the ideal choice as Jeff Luhnow’s lone second-in-command in Houston, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle notes that many teams have multiple assistant GMs who oversee different departments. Stearns’ departure, therefore, leaves the Astros with a big hole to fill. The Astros have several highly-touted members of the organization who could potentially be promoted to assistant GM, and Drellich notes that promoting from within could help the Astros retain these front office talents before they’re lured away by other clubs.
- There is some thought in rival front offices that the Giants could bid on Yoenis Cespedes this winter, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (Insider subscription required). Cespedes would likely be deployed in left, though some time in center field wouldn’t be out of the question if the Giants wanted to keep him playing every day while also finding time for Angel Pagan and Nori Aoki (assuming Aoki is brought back). It could be a moot point, however, as Olney wonders if Cespedes’ demands for a six-year deal are too rich for the Giants’ liking.
- From that same piece, a rival executive told Olney “the Giants are the quickest fix” of any of the non-playoff teams. While San Francisco has some clear needs in the rotation, they have a lot of payroll coming off the books as well as a solid core of proven veterans and controllable younger players.
- Like most GMs, Alex Anthopoulos uses both analytical and scouting data to inform his decisions, and he gave a bit of insight to Fangraphs’ David Laurila about which methods were used in some recent Blue Jays transactions. Edwin Encarnacion and Dioner Navarro may have been more inspired by scouting reports, whereas Justin Smoak may have been more of an analytics call. Both departments endorsed signing Jose Bautista to an extension in February 2011, a contract that has been a major bargain for the Jays.
- Also from Laurila’s piece, he spoke with Mark Melancon about his development into a star closer with the Pirates after an unsuccessful stint with the Red Sox. Melancon credits ex-teammate Russell Martin with encouraging him to use his cutter more, and he admitted that he’s satisfied that he was able to prove to his critics in Boston (both within the fanbase and the organization) that he indeed has “the closer mentality.”
Full Story | 5 Comments | Categories: Alex Anthopoulos | Barry Zito | David Stearns | Dioner Navarro | Edwin Encarnacion | Houston Astros | Jose Bautista | Justin Smoak | Mark Melancon | Milwaukee Brewers | Oakland Athletics | Pittsburgh Pirates | San Francisco Giants | Toronto Blue Jays | Yoenis Cespedes
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.
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.
The hiring of Dave Dombrowski puts a new face atop the Red Sox‘ baseball operations hierarchy but does not change the goal and the philosophy of the organization, writes Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. As Silverman writes, the Red Sox were going to overhaul the roster this winter whether Dombrowski, Ben Cherington or someone else was leading the charge. Chairman Tom Werner and president John Henry both spoke about how the team will still use data and analytics to its advantage, while Dombrowski said he’s not planning to “blow up” Boston’s baseball ops department.
More from the AL East…
- Tim Britton of the Providence Journal looks at how Dombrowski’s history will tie in with the Red Sox. Dombrowski has a reputation for trading prospects for proven talent after his time in Detroit, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, he notes. Part of successfully executing that philosophy is trading prospects at peak value and maximizing return — something the Sox failed to do with names like Will Middlebrooks and Anthony Ranaudo. Dombrowski spoke of dealing from a surplus in his introduction to Boston media, Britton writes, and he points out that center field, shortstop and catcher could all be areas of surplus/redundancy for the Sox. The other questions for Dombrowski in Boston will be how aggressively he’ll pursue top-flight free agent pitching this winter and whether or not he can rebuild a bullpen that has been largely problematic in 2015, writes Britton.
- Praising the Yankees‘ decision to hang onto the likes of Greg Bird, Luis Severino and other top prospects is premature, opines Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. While Bird and Severino have each contributed to the Bombers over the past few weeks, Martino writes that the true wisdom or folly of that decision won’t be known for quite some time. A dominant October run from Severino might speed up the process of proving GM Brian Cashman’s decision to be shrewd, but the possibility also exists that the Yankees’ coveted prospects will go the route of Jesus Montero. Martino doesn’t necessarily make the argument that Cashman should have traded prospects away, but rather just urges onlookers to take a less reactionary approach following a two-homer game from Bird and a trio of solid starts from Severino, as narratives can change quickly when looking at small samples from early in prospects’ careers.
- On the heels of last night’s report from Ken Rosenthal, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi writes that he, too, hears the Blue Jays consider Indians president Mark Shapiro a “strong candidate” to replace retiring CEO Paul Beeston. However, Davidi notes that there may yet be others in the mix for the impending vacancy. Notably, Davidi writes that the “assumption” is that GM Alex Anthopoulos will be offered some kind of extension prior to his contract’s expiration on Oct. 31.
- Miguel Gonzalez‘s struggles with the Orioles are ill-timed, writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The organization’s top alternatives at the minor league level — Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright — are both injured at the moment, and there aren’t many other options to give him a break from his troubles. As Encina notes, Gonzalez has struggled quite a bit when ahead in the count — even on 0-2 counts — which has contributed to a 6.48 ERA over his past 11 starts. I’ll add that the struggles are doubly problematic for Gonzalez, who is eligible for arbitration for the second time this winter and due a raise on his $3.275MM salary.
Indians president Mark Shapiro has “emerged as a strong candidate” to succeed retiring Blue Jays president/CEO Paul Beeston, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Blue Jays have, in fact, already reached out to Shapiro about the position, Rosenthal continues.
The 48-year-old Shapiro served as the Indians’ general manager for 10 seasons before a promotion to club president that saw longtime lieutenant Chris Antonetti promoted to the GM chair. As Rosenthal notes, Shapiro has overseen renovations at Cleveland’s Progressive Field while serving as president, which would have appeal to the Blue Jays, who are planning on some renovations at the Rogers Centre in the years to come.
Shapiro, or any other president, would have a say in the future of Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who, as Rosenthal reports, is signed through Oct. 31. Were Anthopoulos allowed to reach his contract’s expiration date, he’d be able to pursue various other GM openings around the league. While there’s been plenty written about Anthopoulos’ uncertain future over the past year, his team’s success since a number of high-profile acquisitions at this year’s non-waiver trade deadline would, on the surface, appear to have positioned him for a contract extension with Toronto. The Blue Jays are currently two games back from the Yankees in the AL East but are also positioned to make the postseason as a Wild Card team if they do not overtake New York in the standings. The Blue Jays are 21-9 in the second half of the season and 13-4 since Aug. 1. However, a new president could still prefer to bring in their own general manager to help guide the franchise.
Toronto’s search for a successor to Beeston has been ongoing for quite some time. Last offseason, the team reportedly showed interest in Orioles GM Dan Duquette, Twins GM Terry Ryan and White Sox president Kenny Williams to fill the role. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported earlier this week that the Blue Jays made a strong run at Dombrowski, and their interest pushed the Red Sox to give Dombrowski full decision-making authority.
Specific details of Shapiro’s contract aren’t clear, although if he’s under contract beyond the 2015 season, the Indians could be in for some form of compensation. Last winter, when talks with the Blue Jays were said to have gained traction, the two teams were reportedly discussed player compensation that would’ve gone from Toronto to Baltimore due to the fact that Duquette is signed through the 2018 season.
With Dave Dombrowski joining their division rivals, the Blue Jays remain in need of a replacement for outgoing president Paul Beeston. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca suggests that current GM Alex Anthopoulos could make a sensible candidate for that more expansive role. For one thing, says Davidi, it may not be wise to introduce any potential for internal discord in baseball decisionmaking by adding someone on top of Anthopoulos. And elevating the current GM would help ensure continuity. You’ll want to read the piece for the full concept.
- Of course, as Davidi notes, whether or not the Blue Jays consider Anthopoulos for a promotion, the team will need to act on his contract status by the end of October, when his current deal expires. With front offices churning around the league, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Toronto would be foolish not to act decisively to retain Anthopoulos. He proposes that the organization vest him with full baseball ops authority while adding a business-oriented president. (Obviously, that’s not the profile of Dombrowski, who Rosenthal says was brought in for a formal interview by the Jays.)
- Blue Jays lefty Randy Wolf recently requested his release to seek an opportunity at the big league level, but Toronto may give him that chance itself come September, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. Toronto would have done so already had a specific team made an offer to add him to its MLB roster, Heyman notes, but was not interested in letting him go to another team’s Triple-A club. (Wolf was not able to negotiate an opt-out clause into his pact with the Jays.) Wolf has had an interesting recent transactional timeline, especially for a nearly 39-year-old veteran. He’s generated excellent results this year at Buffalo, tossing 139 2/3 innings of 2.58 ERA ball with 6.8 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9.
- The Yankees‘ 2006 draft class may have featured the most productive haul of future relievers in baseball history, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Mark Melancon, George Kontos, and Zach McAllister were all taken that year by New York — after the team selected Joba Chamberlain in the first round. While Chamberlain never followed through on the amazing start to his career, Sherman notes, the class does help to demonstrate that New York has been rather successful in developing high-quality pen arms.
In a pair of excellent columns, Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet and Jonah Keri of Grantland offer behind-the-scenes looks at the chaotic week of Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos leading up to the trade deadline. Each spoke directly to Anthopoulos, and while Keri’s piece focuses on blockbuster deals for David Price and Troy Tulowitzki, Zwelling’s looks at each day of Anthopoulos’ week leading up to the deadline (including those trades and other discussions) — painting a vivid picture of the life of a general manager during one of the most chaotic times of the year.
Some highlights from each piece, although I’d highly recommend reading each in its entirety…
- Both Zwelling and Keri note that talks between the Blue Jays and Rockies date back to the offseason, but the initial concept of Jose Reyes and pitching prospects for Tulowitzki surfaced in late May. Anthopoulos, Zwelling writes, had been unwilling to part with Jeff Hoffman until the day that Tulowitzki was traded. When Hoffman’s name was put on the table, talks with Rockies GM Jeff Bridich accelerated quickly. Zwelling’s piece also provides a glimpse into the difficult task of Anthopoulos informing Reyes that he’d been traded.
- Meanwhile, Anthopoulos told Keri that the decision to add Tulowitzki did have its detractors within the Toronto front office. “They brought up the length of his contract, the dollars on his contract, the players we’d have to give up,” said Anthopoulos. However, his take on the situation varied. “Players like that don’t become available,” said the Toronto GM. “They sign 10-year contracts and become the face of a franchise. It wasn’t an easy decision. It was weird, the process was long and stressful … but it was also a lot of fun.”
- Zwelling writes that Anthopoulos was in negotiation for players such as Ben Zobrist, Gerardo Parra and Mike Leake as well, but an eventual phone call from Detroit’s Dave Dombrowski caused him to shift his focus to Price. Dombrowski had told Anthopoulos a week before the trade deadline that he’d call him if he decided to move Price, and despite the fact that Anthopoulos saw constant rumors about Price’s availability, his respect for Dombrowski prevented him from calling to check in. “His guarantee that he’d call me was all I needed,” said Anthopoulos. “Dave’s a complete pro. No matter what was being said in the media, I was going to take his word for it. When and if the time presented itself, he was going to call.”
- Anthopoulos tells Zwelling that while there was pressure to get a deal for Price and/or another starter done, he did have a fallback plan. Anthopoulos had a standing agreement in place for a yet-unnamed lesser pitcher than Price that he could’ve swung on July 31, but the move for Price halted that need.
- Keri notes that Anthopoulos was on the phone with Mariners counterpart Jack Zduriencik discussing Mark Lowe when Dombrowski came calling with the info that he was ready to move Price. “I’m dying to jump off the phone, but I don’t want to do that to Jack,” said Anthopoulos. “I did really want Price, though. So I did hurry it along.”
- Keri cites a Blue Jays source in reporting that the Blue Jays nearly had a trade completed for the Indians’ Carlos Carrasco, but talks fell apart just as the Jays thought they had something worked out. The Jays also checked in with the Phillies on Cole Hamels over the winter, in Spring Training, before the All-Star break and with 10 days to go before the trade deadline, Keri reports, but were repeatedly told that Hamels wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause to approve a deal to Toronto. Anthopoulos also aggressively pursued the Padres’ Tyson Ross, according to Keri’s source, though he gives no indication that anything was as close with Ross as it seemingly was with Carrasco.
Full Story | 14 Comments | Categories: Alex Anthopoulos | Ben Zobrist | Carlos Carrasco | Cleveland Indians | Cole Hamels | Colorado Rockies | David Price | Gerardo Parra | Jeff Hoffman | Jose Reyes | Mark Lowe | Mike Leake | Newsstand | Oakland Athletics | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | Seattle Mariners | Toronto Blue Jays | Troy Tulowitzki | Tyson Ross