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St. Louis Cardinals Rumors
Giants GM Bobby Evans has succeeded with subtly bold action, as Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News writes in an interesting feature on the recently promoted executive. If you’re interested in learning how exactly one can make it to the top echelons of baseball decisionmaking without a professional playing career or other “in” to get you there, this is essential reading. Now 46, Evans got his start with an internship, worked in the commissioner’s office, and then jumped on an opportunity to join the San Francisco organization as a minor league administrative assistant. “He was very eager, obviously an intelligent kid, he had the intern experience in Boston and the commissioner’s office, and quite frankly, he was single and wide-eyed and willing to put the hours in,” said former Giants GM and current executive VP of operations Brian Sabean of Evans’s start with the club. “That’s half the battle. You have to be willing to punch the clock, and put up with the demands.” 21 years and a lot of hard work later, Evans was given the general manager’s chair as Sabean moved to a more senior post.
Here’s more from the National League:
- As it investigates Cardinals employees’ improper access of the Astros‘ computer system, the FBI is still working to determine precisely which personnel were responsible for the breach, Michael Schmidt of the New York Times reports. Per the report, the focus is on “a small group of Cardinals employees who specialize in statistical analysis and computer programming and had access to a computer in a residence” in Jupiter, Florida last spring. Given the potential criminal ramifications, several individuals under investigation have obtained representation, which necessarily constrains the fact-finding process. It appears that the intrusion came from a commonly-used computer, as the report indicates that a significant part of the puzzle involves the questions of when and for how long various Cardinals employees were utilizing a single machine around the time that the Astros’ databases were accessed.
- Though a lawsuit against the Cardinals by the Astros is not likely given the league rules barring such an action, and fines are capped at $2MM, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes that the Cards could still face significant financial exposure. Namely, commissioner Rob Manfred could function as an arbitrator to award damages should Houston seek to prove that it suffered harm due to the actions of the St. Louis employees (and the public exposure of the information).
- The Mets shortstop saga may have a new chapter, as the team appears likely to move Wilmer Flores to second base when Daniel Murphy is activated from the DL, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports. In that scenario, Murphy would play third (in place of David Wright), while Ruben Tejada would slide in at short for at least some time with Dilson Herrera moving to the bench. Hypothetically, of course, the club could seek an outside addition to take over for Flores while keeping his bat in the lineup at second. But it’s far from clear whether that is a realistic or wise option for the New York front office, particularly with the team sliding of late.
- Chase Utley‘s DL stint for a nagging ankle injury came as something of a surprise to Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports. “In my communication with Chase throughout the season about playing he’s always been up and willing to go and no real reports of anything holding him back, so I was a little bit surprised by it in some regards,” Sandberg said. The skipper’s reaction is at least potentially notable because of the delicate situation that seems to be playing itself out in Philly. Sandberg had increasingly turned to Cesar Hernandez at second, but it has remained unclear what strategic direction the organization was taking with Utley, one of the faces of the team’s last great run. The veteran is already halfway (249/500 plate appearances) to triggering a $15MM vesting clause for next year. Given his recent injury history and marked production downturn this year, it would obviously behoove the club to avoid that obligation, but doing so will likely require some deft handling.
In his latest notes column for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal begins with an interesting note on the Nationals. Despite a substantial payroll and a heavy offseason investment in Max Scherzer, Nats ownership is reluctant to add payroll during the season. Rosenthal notes that, in hindsight, we saw an indication of this last July when Cleveland paid all of the $3.3MM remaining on Asdrubal Cabrera‘s salary after the Nats acquired him. (Of course, the Nats were also willing to take on all of Matt Thornton‘s salary via waiver claim.)
Because of this, Rosenthal wonders if the Nats will consider trading Ian Desmond this summer to clear room for a different acquisition. Given Desmond’s struggles, the team could be better off with Danny Espinosa, Yunel Escobar and Anthony Rendon seeing regular time in the infield. Earlier in the week, I speculated on a possible Desmond trade after it was reported that the Nats were interesred in the D-Backs’ middle infielders, but Rosenthal notes that it could also allow them more flexibility to pursue Aroldis Chapman, Ben Zobrist or even a reunion with Tyler Clippard. Of course, Desmond’s offensive and defensive woes diminish his trade value, as well.
A few more highlights from Rosenthal’s column…
- Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart tells Rosenthal that he usually doesn’t pay attention to media criticism, but he’s aware of the near-universal criticism of the D-Backs for their trade of Touki Toussaint (in which the team essentially sold its 2014 first-round pick to Atlanta). Rosenthal quotes Stewart: “The truth is we did not know what Touki’s value would be if we shopped him. There is a lot of speculation on that. People are assuming it would have been better, but we don’t know. There was an opportunity to make a deal that gave us more flexibility today as well as next year. We took that opportunity. It’s tough to say we could have gotten more. He was drafted at No. 16, given ($2.7) million. In my opinion, that’s his value.” Stewart continues to say that Toussaint has not thrown 96 mph with the D-Backs, despite some scouting reports and that there’s “some inflation of what people think Touki is.” Stewart adds that the D-Backs think Toussaint will be a Major League pitcher but not for another five to six years.
- A brief interjection from me to offer my take on those comments: It’s odd to hear a GM openly devalue a player in this fashion, even after trading him away. Beyond that, however, it’s puzzling to hear Stewart equate Toussaint’s value with the clearly arbitrary number assigned to last year’s draft slot value. Having shown a willingness to spend $16MM+ on a pitching prospect (Yoan Lopez) this offseason, Stewart is undoubtedly cognizant of the fact that Toussaint would have fetched far, far more than $2.7MM in a theoretical free agent setting. Additionally, if they truly do feel that Toussaint will pitch in the Major Leagues, that makes the trade all the more puzzling to me, as my best explanation to this point had been that they simply didn’t believe in his future all that strongly.
- Back to Rosenthal’s piece, which has several more quotes from Stewart, including the GM’s own admission of surprise to his team’s current standing in the NL West. The D-Backs were built with an eye on the longer-term picture than 2015, says Stewart, and they’ll need to assess how to respond at the deadline. To this point, the D-Backs have received inquiries on their starting pitching, but not on their middle infield. Stewart flatly says “…we’re not moving [Nick] Ahmed,” and calls a trade of Chris Owings “very unlikely.” Interestingly, that does seem to indicate that the new GM values Ahmed over Owings.
- The Astros remain interested in Jeff Samardzija, and as Rosenthal notes, a move away from what has been a brutal White Sox defense would likely help Samardzija quite a bit. Samardzija’s .338 BABIP has helped contribute to a significant discrepancy between his 4.53 ERA and 3.67 FIP. Of course, Chicago’s porous defense doesn’t necessarily explain Samardzija’s diminished strikeout rate and struggles to strand runners in 2015. The Astros, Rosenthal says, are eyeing Samardzija and other pitchers, but the White Sox are not yet ready to sell.
- The Brewers aren’t receiving very strong interest in Francisco Rodriguez, likely in part due to his backloaded contract, Rosenthal hears. K-Rod is still owed $1.95MM in 2015, plus $9.5MM in 2016 between his salary and the buyout on a $6MM club option for the 2017 season. Lefty Neal Cotts, however, figures to be in demand and may even be of interest to his former club, the Rangers, Rosenthal writes. Cotts’s 4.30 ERA isn’t anything to write home about, but he’s held lefties to a .546 OPS.
- The Cardinals might not be as urgent to add a starter as many had previously expected. The club feels that Michael Wacha can top 200 innings, and Carlos Martinez can deliver about 170. A bigger need might be a left-handed-hitting complement for Mark Reynolds at first base, and Rosenthal suggests Adam LaRoche as a speculative fit to improve the team on both sides of the ball.
Full Story | 20 Comments | Categories: Adam LaRoche | Anthony Rendon | Arizona Diamondbacks | Aroldis Chapman | Ben Zobrist | Chicago White Sox | Chris Owings | Cincinnati Reds | Francisco Rodriguez | Houston Astros | Ian Desmond | Jeff Samardzija | Mark Reynolds | Milwaukee Brewers | Neal Cotts | Nick Ahmed | Oakland Athletics | St. Louis Cardinals | Texas Rangers | Touki Toussaint | Tyler Clippard | Washington Nationals | Yunel Escobar
The Cardinals are under investigation for allegedly hacking into the Astros’ Ground Control database. Details are now emerging about the incident, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. One expert termed the hacking as “unauthorized intrusion” rather than a sophisticated attack. The legal definition of hack does include unauthorized intrusion, but no advanced techniques were used to access the Astros database.
It’s thought that one of Jeff Luhnow, Sig Mejdal, or Mike Elias did not properly update their passwords after moving from the Cardinals to the Astros. The access occurred as a result of password guessing, says Drellich. “Possibly with well-educated guesses.”
As you might have intuited, the security for the Ground Control database was below industry standards. Anybody could access the log-in page via groundcontrol.astros.com and a password. This is referred to as single-factor authentication. Houston has since moved the database to a virtual private network (VPN). It reportedly now has two-factor authentication which is more secure.
At least one of the three breaches was done by somebody using Tor, an “anonymity network” meant to hide the activities and location of its users. While the article doesn’t mention it, there is a freely available browser-based front end to access the Tor network.
In other news, the Cardinals brand has been “tarnished” by the scandal, but economic damage should be minimal according to the Associated Press. Primary revenue streams like fan attendance and television network payments will be unaffected by the crime. Sponsors have not backed away from the Cardinals according to a spokesman for FOX Sports Midwest.
Taking the other perspective, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch elaborated on the Cardinals back story. Luhnow was hired by Cardinals chairman Bill Dewitt Jr. in 2003 to bring St. Louis into the sabermetric revolution. Luhnow was in large part responsible for building the group that is now under investigation. The team’s analytical efforts yielded excellent results like the selection of first baseman Matt Adams in the 23rd round. The article provides many other great anecdotes about St Louis’ move into the information age.
Here’s a look at today’s significant draft signings:
- The Cardinals have signed eighth-rounder Ian Oxnevad for $500K, well above his pick value of $167,400, Teddy Cahill of Baseball America tweets. Cahill describes the lefty Oxnevad as one of the Northwest’s best high school pitchers. He was committed to Oregon State. Via MLB.com’s Signing and Bonus Tracker, the Cardinals saved a bit of money against their pool by signing several picks from the fourth through ninth rounds for significantly less than their pick values. Oxnevad is represented by Tripper Johnson of Sosnick Cobbe Karon.
The Cardinals are currently under federal investigation for allegedly gaining illegal access into the Astros’ internal computer network, and Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports the latest wrinkle in the scandal. In addition to the previously known security breaches in 2014 and 2013, Drellich now has learned that the Cardinals accessed the Astros’ network as early as 2012, bringing light to a third and previously unreported breach.
Previous reports have indicated that the Cardinals employees in question gained access to Houston’s Ground Control system by utilizing a master list of passwords from when Jeff Luhnow and other execs were still with St. Louis, fueling speculation that Luhnow had neglected to update old passwords. The Houston GM told Ben Reiter of SI.com that any such speculation was “absolutely false,” continuing to add:
“I absolutely know about password hygiene and best practices. I’m certainly aware of how important passwords are, as well as of the importance of keeping them updated. A lot of my job in baseball, as it was in high tech, is to make sure that intellectual property is protected. I take that seriously and hold myself and those who work for me to a very high standard.”
In speaking to Reiter, Luhnow also addressed the supposed concern from Cardinals employees that he may have taken some proprietary information from St. Louis to Houston, denying that any such action took place and adding that he never received any sort of inquiry from the Cardinals on the matter. Luhnow says that his departure from the Cardinals was amicable, adding that many of his former colleagues were invited to and in attendance for his 2012 wedding.
Drellich has previously reported that the list of suspected Cardinals employees has been narrowed to four or five, and it seems at this point that the highest-ranking members of the Cardinals’ front office weren’t involved. Attorney Jim Martin, whose firm was retained by the Cardinals in February to perform an organizational review upon learning of the investigation, expressed confidence to the Associated Press that GM John Mozeliak and chairman/CEO Bill DeWitt, Jr. had no knowledge of the events. “With what we have done so far, I am 100 percent confident that this does not touch upper management,” said Martin.
Via Robert Patrick of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, DeWitt himself addressed the media yesterday and said that he was “shocked” and “in disbelief” when he learned of the allegations. “There was zero knowledge until the FBI launched their investigation and we became aware of it,” said DeWitt.
The Chronicle reported earlier in the week that the investigation was in its latter stages, and Drellich explained in a followup piece last night that it would be the commissioner’s office — not a civil suit — that would determine the punishment for the Cardinals and award potential damages to the Astros. As Drellich explains, Major League clubs cannot file civil suits against one another, despite the fact that a former Department of Justice attorney who specialized intellectual property and commercial litigation told him the Astros “could have a case for theft of trade secrets.” The Cardinals cannot be fined more than $2MM as an organization, and DeWitt and other employees cannot be fined more than $500K. However, the commissioner’s office can punish the Cardinals by way of both the Rule 4 Draft (the yearly amateur draft in June) and the Rule 5 Draft, in addition to “other unspecified actions as the commissioner sees fit.”
The Nationals and Athletics have matched up on trade deadline rentals (and other deals) with some frequency of late, and the clubs have reportedly discussed both Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clippard this year. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports, nothing has gained significant traction as of yet. Oakland has expressed interest in young Nats outfielder Michael Taylor, who has found himself playing a significant role on the club this year as a fill-in for Denard Span (to start the year) and Jayson Werth (currently on the DL). The A’s have also asked about the Nats’ young arms, per Rosenthal, who argues that the Taylor ask suggests that Oakland GM Billy Beane could be looking to “operate as both a buyer and seller” this summer. From my perspective, looking to add an unpolished but big-league-ready and controllable piece like Taylor is to be expected, whether or not Beane thinks his club has enough time to get back in contention this season. I’d also add that the Nats seem unlikely to move Taylor with Span set to hit free agency after the season.
Here are some more notes on the trade market:
- The Yankees are getting a good look at Reds starter Johnny Cueto, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. New York has sent a scout to watch both of Cueto’s last two starts, per the report. Of course, they surely are not alone in dedicating attention to the player who could be the best arm available this July.
- Though he doesn’t call for a trade directly, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch breaks down the flaws in the Cardinals bench alignment. In particular, utility infielder Pete Kozma has struggled badly at the plate for some time. And the team’s resources have been stretched somewhat with Mark Reynolds needed to fill in for the injured Matt Adams. Certainly, as the team looks to fortify itself for a stretch run and hopeful post-season berth, reserve players could be on the wish list.
- The Indians remain in a somewhat uncertain position in a tough AL Central; entering today’s action, the team remains four games under .500 and eight back in the division. In an appearance on MLB Network Radio (Twitter link), Cleveland GM Chris Antonetti certainly sounded more like a buyer. “We’re still learning about our team,” he said. “We’re still trying to find out where we’ll need to supplement.”
- In his own recent MLB Network Radio spot several days ago (via Twitter), Rangers GM Jon Daniels explained that he is preparing to take a hard look at the trade market. “If someone out there can help us, we have to be open-minded,” said Daniels. “We’ll evaluate our own guys first and go from there.” As both of these executive quotes indicate, one somewhat underappreciated factor in the slow onset of serious trades is the fact that many clubs are interested in obtaining an extended look at multiple internal options — all while seeing how other teams’ players are performing — before deciding whether to part with assets.
- The White Sox are in an even tougher spot than their division rivals from Cleveland, but GM Rick Hahn emphasized that the team is still focused on crawling back into contention, as Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports. “The organization still absolutely believes in this team,” Hahn said. “The focus on the ballgames and the belief we will win ballgames is there.” Of course, as Levine rightly notes, the best way to get back in the hunt — improved performance — is also the optimal means of building trade value. Hahn went on to explain that he had no interest in giving public insight into the team’s strategic thinking. “Do we have thoughts on potential moves to reinvigorate the 2015 club and put us in a better position to contend going forward? Absolutely,” said Hahn. “As for the timing or the nature of those moves, that is not something that we will lay out in advance.”
- ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark lays out his top ten targets, rating Cole Hamels of the Phillies as the biggest trade piece. One executive tells Stark that Hamels has probably increased his value over the first few months of the season, though of course he is out right now with what is hoped to be a relatively minor hamstring issue. Teams that have had contact with the Phils are indicating that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is still insisting on young players that possible buyers have said they’re not willing to move. One source tells Stark that a “more creative” approach will be needed to get something done. Amaro has obviously taken a lot of heat for his handling of the team’s trade chips, though at this point it is probably best to withhold judgment; after all, Hamels is a somewhat unique trade commodity given his large but manageable contract, and a bidding war remains a plausible scenario.
5:53pm: In a followup interview with Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports, Mozeliak states, “Unequivocally, I knew nothing about this.” Nightengale notes that in order to conduct the interview, Mozeliak was required to have legal counsel conference into the call. (That lawyer, Mike Whittle, advised against responding to whether or not Mozeliak felt any sense of responsibility for the alleged actions.) “I don’t know the outcome of this, or where it’s going to go,” Mozeliak continued, “but our hope is that when everything comes to light, people will realize that it wasn’t something that was organizational-wide.”
According to Nightengale, the Cardinals were aware of the investigation months ago but had hoped that it would stay out of the media. “I was surprised it came out,” said Mozeliak. “Not that I would not want it to come out, but the way it did, and the manner it did, did catch us off guard. We are responding accordingly.”
2:12pm: The Cardinals have issued a press release regarding the FBI investigation into the involvement of club employees in a reported breach of the Astros’ internal computer system.
St. Louis says that the organization retained the St. Louis law firm Dowd Bennett to conduct an investigation of the matter when it was made aware of the allegations several months back. Attorney Jim Martin, a former U.S. Attorney and white collar litigator with the firm, said that inquiry has yet to be completed. He explained that his firm and the organization will “avoid saying anything which would interfere with the government’s investigation” in the interim.
“These are serious allegations that don’t reflect who we are as an organization,” said club chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. “We are committed to getting to the bottom of this matter as soon as possible, and if anyone within our organization is determined to be involved in anything inappropriate, they will be held accountable.”
GM John Mozeliak also made a statement in the release, saying that “the alleged conduct has no place in our game.” Mozeliak continued: “We hold ourselves to the highest standards in every facet of our organization. It has been that way forever and is certainly true today. We are committed to finding out what happened. To the extent we can substantiate that these allegations have merit, we will take appropriate action against anyone involved.”
From the Astros’ perspective, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reported today that Houston is holding out the possibility of a civil suit against those ultimately determined to have perpetrated the impermissible computer access. “The Astros think it’s very serious,” a source told him.
That report also indicates that the FBI has looked into several addresses from which the unlawful access may have occurred, including both a house located in Jupiter, Florida (the Cardinals’ spring home) and one in a state that doesn’t host a major league club. Click here to find other recent developments as of late last evening. You can find the first post on the Cardinals’ involvement here and the original story on the leaked Astros trade notes at this link.
11:09pm: Apart from whatever criminal charges could arise, the league’s punishment of the Cardinals (if any) will depend upon “how high knowledge of [the] breach reached,” according to Passan (links to Twitter).
If the investigation reveals only a single “rogue employee,” there may not be any significant repercussions for the organization, says Passan. But severe penalties could result if top officials are shown to have acted improperly. The timeline of league action will be slowed by the fact that the FBI investigation remains private, Passan adds.
10:50pm: The FBI investigation into the breach of the Astros’ computer systems is in its final stages, according to the Houston Chronicle’s David Barron and Evan Drellich. A source tells the Chronicle that “the suspects [have] been narrowed to a group of four to five individuals within the Cardinals organization.”
Per the report, in addition to the 2013 breach discussed in the New York Times piece that broke the story of the investigation, impermissible access to the system also occurred in March of last year. That would seem to coincide with a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports indicating that the computer which gained entry to the Astros’ systems had been traced to a house in Jupiter, Florida — the Spring Training home of the Cardinals — which was occupied by multiple St. Louis employees. (Notably, also, the information released publicly appears to line up with the timing reported by the Chronicle.)
The Cardinals have conducted internal interviews with their personnel regarding the matter, Drellich adds on Twitter, and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch notes that many members of the front office have hired attorneys. St. Louis released a statement earlier today indicating that the club “has fully cooperated with the investigation and will continue to do so.” Per Goold’s report, that included turning over computers to the FBI back in Feburary.
As things stand, it remains unreported precisely which Cardinals personnel are suspected of involvement with the actual computer breach — let alone what involvement organizational higher-ups may have had in the infraction, the public disclosure of information, and/or events subsequent. Needless to say, regardless of who is ultimately deemed to have committed the breaches, those questions will remain a source of intense interest going forward.
9:57pm: The breach in the Astros’ computer system was traced to a home in Jupiter, Florida, where the Cardinals hold Spring Training, a source tells Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Per the report, “a number of Cardinals employees used the house.” That could make it more difficult to determine precisely who accessed the database, though of course investigators surely possess means of acquiring that information.
Passan also notes that, per his source, “the breach involved more than taking old passwords” from Luhnow “and inputting them into a website.” Indeed, there were initially concerns in the league office that more information might ultimately be made public than has been revealed to date.
3:44pm: Cardinals front office officials are being investigated by the FBI in connection to the 2013 hacking of the Astros’ Ground Control database, reports Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times. According to Schmidt, federal investigators have uncovered evidence which indicates that Cardinals officials were the ones to break into the Astros’ network and databases, leading to the compromise of trade discussions, proprietary statistics and scouting reports.
At this point, it’s unclear which officials are being investigated, but Schmidt reports that no one with the team has been put on leave, suspended or fired at this time. Subpoenas have been served to both the Cardinals and Major League Baseball. In a statement to Schmidt, a spokesperson for commissioner Rob Manfred said that MLB “has been aware of and has fully cooperated with the federal investigation into the illegal breach of the Astros’ baseball operations database.”
Schmidt continues to say that the “hacking” was rather low-grade, as it’s believed that Cardinals officials gained entry by using a master list of passwords from Jeff Luhnow and those who followed him from the St. Louis front office to the Houston front office. The current belief among investigators is that Cardinals officials were concerned that Luhnow took proprietary information from St. Louis’ Redbird system — a network similar to Ground Control — and applied the information to his new system in Houston.
Schmidt adds that some law enforcement officials believe the breach to be the result of “vengeful” Cardinals employees “hoping to wreak havoc” on Luhnow’s work in Houston. The Astros believed the hacking to be random and notified the FBI, who learned that the Ground Control network had been accessed from a home in which a Cardinals official had lived.
The breach ultimately led to a good deal of private Astros information becoming public knowledge, including trade discussions that brought a good deal of scrutiny on the Houston organization. At the time, the Astros issued the following statement:
“Last month, we were made aware that proprietary information held on Astros’ servers and in Astros’ applications had been illegally obtained. Upon learning of the security breach, we immediately notified MLB security who, in turn, notified the FBI. Since that time, we have been working closely with MLB security and the FBI to the determine the party, or parties, responsible. This information was illegally obtained and published, and we intend to prosecute those involved to the fullest extent.”
It remains to be seen what kind of punishments will be issued if the Cardinals are indeed proved to be behind the incident. However, this is certainly the type of offense that would cost executives their jobs, and there could very well be further legal repercussions for those involved, as well as further punishments issued to the organization by the league.
Commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters that it’s too soon to know how the league will handle today’s stunning news that the FBI is investigating the Cardinals for possible involvement in last year’s Astros computer system breach. As Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle was among those to report, Manfred declined to wade into the details of the matter and stressed that the federal government, not the league, was conducting the investigation. “To assume that the investigation is going to produce a particular result with respect to the Cardinals, let alone to jump to a word like cyber attack, we don’t know that those are the facts yet,” he said. “There is an ongoing investigation. We’ve been fully cooperative. Obviously any allegation like this, no matter how serious it turns out to be, is of great concern to us but it’s just too early to speculate on what the facts are going to turn out to be and what action, if any, is necessary.”
Here’s more from the NL Central:
- Adding Matt Dominguez through a waiver claim gave the Brewers options at third base both now and in the future, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The 24-year-old has an impressive pedigree, of course, and certainly has some upside for a team that’s all but out of it in 2015. But there is a more immediate concern, too: Aramis Ramirez could be dealt this summer, notes Haudricourt, and he’ll need a replacement if moved. Of course, the club also is in need of a future replacement with the veteran set to retire, and a look at the controllable Dominguez certainly makes sense.
- Of course, adding Dominguez meant that the Brewers had to expose lefty Wei-Chung Wang to waivers, which Haudricourt explains was a tough move to make. Milwaukee carried Wang on the active roster for all of 2014 just to take a shot on his future, but he was struggling badly this year at the Class A level. As Haudricourt explains, Wang is earning a relatively robust $300K salary (a larger salary cut from his 2014 MLB earnings was not permissible), which may be a deterrent — as is the fact that a claiming team would need to dedicate a 40-man spot (though Wang does have options).
- Cubs prospect Kyle Schwarber is expected to have a very short first taste of the big leagues, in large part because he is likely not ready to spend regular time in the field. But that’s probably also a good thing in the long term, given that Chicago continues to give Schwarber time behind the plate rather than giving up and choosing instead to acclimate him to the corner outfield. In fact, as MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat tweets, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says the club is increasingly bullish on Schwarber’s chances at sticking as a backstop. “We’re more convinced now than ever that he’s going to catch and catch a long time in the big leagues,” said Epstein.