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Former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who was in attendance as the team his son coaches at the University of Wisconsin-Stout took on a Twins rookie team Tuesday, would be thrilled to manage again, Phil Miller of the Star Tribune writes. “Oh, no. I’ve got a lot left in me in baseball,” says Gardenhire, shown in a photo wearing a T-shirt and smoking a cigar. “If somebody is looking for a manager and I’m a fit, great. I would love to manage again.” After the Twins fired him following last season following the team’s fourth straight season of 92-plus losses, Gardenhire lived for a month in an RV parked near his daughter’s house in Oklahoma while he waited for his first grandchild to be born. Gardenhire turned down a front-office job with the Twins, but says he’s still willing to help his former organization, perhaps with occasional scouting tasks. Here’s more from around the game.
- MLBPA head Tony Clark says it’s “unfortunate” that teams delay promotion of top prospects for service-time reasons, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports. “We don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest, and we don’t think it’s in the industry’s best interest, to not have the best players on the field all the time,” says Clark. This has become, of course, a point of discussion every year. This season, top Cubs prospect Kris Bryant has been the focus of the issue. The Cubs are likely to send him to the minors to start the season even though he’s leading MLB in Spring Training homers with six.
- One Padres move that didn’t attract much attention in a high-profile winter was their signing of former Diamondbacks, Astros and Tigers closer Jose Valverde to a minor-league deal. Valverde has performed well in camp, however, and now appears to have a good shot to make the team, Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com writes. “I feel like I’m 21 because I’m throwing 98 [mph],” says Valverde. “I’m surprised because I haven’t walked anybody yet.” Bloom suggests Valverde could even be the Padres’ closer. That would be an upset if it came to pass, since Joaquin Benoit performed well in that role last year after the team traded Huston Street.
Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark addressed a host of interesting topics in an interview with Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Drellich published two separate articles, both are worth a full read: one focusing on draft-related issues and the other on various recent contractual matters at the major league level.
Generally, Clark had positive words for Houston, crediting the team with a “tremendous stable of young talent,” which, along with some recent veteran signings, “suggests that there’s a plan in place and a light at the end of this rainbow.” He noted that the team’s relatively new ownership and management group is “continuing to acclimate.”
Here are some more key takeaways:
- We’ll turn first to the well-publicized matter of the Astros failing to sign recent draftees Jacob Nix and Brady Aiken. Drellich reports that the settlement between the club Nix, which avoided a grievance proceeding, was actually for a value in the six-figure range, not the full $1.5MM he had originally agreed upon for a bonus (as had previously been reported). Aiken, meanwhile, has not taken any formal action — either through the grievance proceeding or otherwise. Clark says that the “entire situation was unfortunate,” but declined to criticize the club for manipulating the draft prrocess (as he had previously charged) and indicated that the focus was on ensuring that the players “land on their feet with an opportunity to get drafted again this year.”
- Drellich explains that the settlement avoided a potentially tricky jurisdictional issue in the grievance matter. Even as the team (if not also the league) bore risk of an adverse judgment from an arbitrator, Nix himself could have won a hollow victory by having the better of the substantive argument but not receiving any actual monetary relief. This is because the draft is a subject of collective bargaining, but non-40-man players like Nix are not members of the union. Clark did not tip his hand on the union’s view regarding possible changes to the draft, but did say he has “a feeling it’ll be a topic of discussion when we sit down in ’16.”
- Last year, the Astros (among other teams) came under scrutiny regarding service time considerations, in their case involving two of the team’s best prospects. Outfielder George Springer turned down an extension offer and started the season in the minors. Per the report, “steps that could have eventually led to a grievance hearing were taken on his behalf,” though that process was halted when Springer was ultimately promoted. Because he missed the first couple weeks of the season, Springer will be controlled for an additional season, though he is lined up to qualify for another arbitration year as a Super Two.
- Meanwhile, first baseman Jon Singleton ultimately accepted a $10MM extension and was simultaneously promoted to the big leagues. That deal — the first of its kind — created quite a stir, though as I explained at the time there were certainly good reasons for the youngster to reach agreement. Clark’s comments were fascinating on this point, given the controversy surround the contract. “We are supportive of every opportunity a player has to sign a contract,” Clark said. “All we ever ask is that the player is as educated as he can be on all the different moving pieces that may enter that conversation. But no, we think it’s great, and we also think it’s a testament to how well the industry is doing that clubs are being willing more and more to make those commitments to guys who are younger and younger.” (If you’re interested in the subject, Singleton’s agent, Matt Sosnick, explained the deal from his perspective in a recent MLBTR Podcast episode, at the 10:33 mark.)
The Major League Baseball Players Association announced that former big league first baseman Tony Clark has been appointed as executive director. Clark takes over for the late Michael Weiner, who passed away after a 15-month long battle with brain cancer in November.
The move has been expected for some time – Clark was given the newly-created mantle of deputy executive director in July in the event that Weiner would be unable to continue in his role. At the time of the announcement, Weiner gave Clark a glowing endorsement.
“Tony’s rise within the Union will come as no surprise to those who know him. It was clear from the moment Tony joined the MLBPA that his on-field experience and passion for the fraternity of players would make him a tremendous advocate for all who play the game. I look forward to working closely with Tony as together we represent the interests of the players,” Weiner wrote.
Clark, 41, spent parts of 15 seasons in the Major Leagues after being drafted by the Tigers second overall (behind Chipper Jones) in the 1990 draft. From 1995-2009, Clark batted .262/.339/.485 in 5120 plate appearances, belting 251 homers along the way. Most of his career was spent with the Tigers, but he also spent five years with the D-Backs and had brief stints with the Mets, Yankees, Padres, and Red Sox.
Former big league first baseman Tony Clark has been appointed to the newly created position of deputy executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, the MLBPA announced today, and he was voted in unanimously.
As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times notes (on Twitter), Clark is in line to replace current executive director Michael Weiner if his battle with brain cancer becomes too difficult to allow him to work. Within the MLBPA's press release, Weiner issued a statement in which he speaks highly of Clark:
“Tony’s rise within the Union will come as no surprise to those who know him. It was clear from the moment Tony joined the MLBPA that his on-field experience and passion for the fraternity of players would make him a tremendous advocate for all who play the game. I look forward to working closely with Tony as together we represent the interests of the players.”
Clark called the promotion and the opportunity to work more directly with Weiner an honor in a statement of his own:
“I am honored by this appointment and consider it a privilege to be in a position to work more closely with Michael Weiner. I also look forward to continue working with all our members and the entire Union staff, and together we will maintain our standing as one of the best labor organizations in the country.”
The 41-year-old Clark spent parts of 15 seasons in the Major Leagues after being drafted by the Tigers second overall (behind Chipper Jones) in the 1990 draft. From 1995-2009, Clark batted .262/.339/.485 in 5120 plate appearances, belting 251 homers along the way. Most of his career was spent with the Tigers, but he also spent five years with the D-Backs and had brief stints with the Mets, Yankees, Padres and Red Sox.
Current MLBPA Association Representatives Curtis Granderson and Jeremy Guthrie each spoke very highly of Clark and the work he's done to date with the Players Union. Clark was involved in the negotiation of the 2002 and 2006 collective bargaining agreements and also played a role in negotiating baseball's Joint Drug Agreement.
Some links for Wednesday…
- Former big leaguer Tony Clark has been named the MLBPA's director of player relations, reports MLB.com's Bailey Stephens. Clark hasn't played since being released by the Diamondbacks last July, and his duties with the union are "expected to play a large part in future collective bargaining discussions."
- FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal says one of the Marlins' many non-roster relievers could become a low-priced option for the Twins if Joe Nathan ends up needing surgery. That group includes Jose Veras, Mike MacDougal, Derrick Turnbow, and Seth McClung.
- In an interview with John Lowe of The Detroit Free Press, Curtis Granderson said he never wondered why the Tigers traded him only to sign Johnny Damon less than three months later.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com writes that even though the Indians are in full rebuilding mode, the front office is adamant Grady Sizemore isn't going anywhere. Sizemore is under contract for the next two years, and Cleveland holds a $9MM option for 2012.
- Baseball America's Ben Badler goes back five years to look at how successful each team has been at developing players from outside the United States.
- In response to Milton Bradley's interview with ESPN's Colleen Dominguez about his time in Chicago, GM Jim Hendry and former teammates basically said that Bradley had to look in the mirror, according to The Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan and ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine.
Friday Night Lights Links…
- Justin Duchscherer will miss the rest of the season with clinical depression according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. He's been on the disabled list just about all season with an elbow issue, but this is just sad, sad news. CSN California first had the scoop earlier tonight. Duke is scheduled to become a free agent after the season.
- MLB.com's Steve Gilbert reports that Tony Clark has had discussions with the Diamondbacks about possibly joining the team in a baseball operations role. The club released Clark last month.
- Joel Sherman of The NY Post spoke to an AL executive who speculates (key word) that the Red Sox "claimed (Billy) Wagner over worries that (Jonathan) Papelbon's mechanics and control are off." Remember, the key word is speculates.
- LeVon Washington, Tampa Bay's unsigned first round pick, has choosen to attend JuCo powerhouse Chipola College next season according to Marc Lancaster of The Tampa Tribune. The school has produced Buck Showalter, Mat Gamel, and Russell Martin, among others. Washington will be eligible for the draft again next year.
Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the D'Backs released Tony Clark. The 37-year-old first baseman was hitting .182 with four homers in 66 at bats. Piecoro suggests the D'Backs wanted to create room for Josh Whitesell and give him the chance to play regularly.
According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the Diamondbacks have re-signed Tony Clark to a one-year deal worth about $800K. Clark, 36, .225/.359/.318 in 184 plate appearances for the Padres and D’Backs this year. His power seems to come and go.
According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, the D’Backs are progressing towards a one-year deal with Tony Clark, though GM Josh Byrnes says they’re "not all the way there" yet. Piecoro expects Clark to re-sign for less than $1MM.
Piecoro also found that Byrnes isn’t likely to trade Miguel Montero. The D’Backs GM said that "nothing in trade exceeds the value of keeping both" Montero and Chris Snyder, so he’ll hold onto them.
Arizona had considered dealing Montero to the Red Sox for Michael Bowden, but the Red Sox decided against the deal.