Hall of Fame journalist and MLB Network contributor Peter Gammons appeared on MLBN’s High Heat yesterday (video link) and published a full notes column today, both of which have plenty of excellent information. Here are some highlights from Gammons’ latest work…
- While Braves GM Frank Wren did well to patch their rotation with Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang this season, the team’s offense has been woeful, and Wren has the Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton contracts weighing on him. Former Indians GM John Hart, who was brought on as a senior advisor last offseason, could be moved into a more significant role, such as a president of baseball operations (like Theo Epstein in Chicago) or a chief baseball officer like Tony La Russa in Arizona. Hart served as an overseer to Jon Daniels in Texas, and the Braves do have a prime young GM candidate in the form of John Coppolella.
- Gammons thinks that Pablo Sandoval’s days as a member of the Giants are numbered. Sandoval will be one of baseball’s most sought-after free agents this offseason, and the Marlins and Red Sox are both “very interested,” according to Gammons. “The Giants, I don’t think have any chance of re-signing him,” he adds.
- The Rockies had a July deal agreed to that would have sent Jorge De La Rosa to the Orioles in exchange for left-handed pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez, but Rockies owner Dick Monfort nixed the trade. De La Rosa was eventually extended on a two-year, $25MM deal, while Rodriguez was traded to the Red Sox in exchange for Andrew Miller. Gammons uses this story as a means of illustrating Monfort’s fierce loyalty — a trait that makes him an enigma even to the Rockies’ own employees. No one in Colorado is quite sure what Monfort will do this offseason, Gammons writes, though trying to pluck former Rockies assistant Thad Levine from the Rangers, where he is currently an assistant GM, is one scenario on which he speculates.
- At least two dozen teams will be on hand to see Yasmani Tomas’ showcase in the Dominican Republic this weekend, and Gammons hears that the early front-runners to sign him are the Giants, Phillies, Padres, Rangers and Tigers. All of that, of course, could change quickly following his showcase. The Padres might seem a curious fit there, given the team’s typically tight payroll, but I’d imagine that the international focus of new GM A.J. Preller might be a factor.
- While the common belief is that Padres manager Bud Black is safe even with the GM change, one person who interviewed for the position told Gammons that he was asked by CEO Mike Dee how he felt about the possibility of Jason Varitek coming on board as the team’s new skipper. Dee, as Gammons notes, is quite familiar with Varitek and his leadership from their days together in Boston. This isn’t the first time that Varitek’s name was connected to the Padres.
Love the idea of Hart coming in with Coppolella taking on a GM stance, much in same way Epstein-Hoyer are a 1-2 punch in CHC. If Hart is unwilling, I wouldn’t come away from Wren, for the time being. Though, they should be changing hitting coaches (Chipper, are you ready?), manager, and almost everything besides pitching coach, bullpen coach.
@rundmc1981 – Good call. FG and Tosca need to go along with the hitting coach. I can’t fault Wren for the Uggla debacle. Who saw that coming? The only huge brain freeze Wren had was BJ Upton. Other than that he has done a good job $ he had to work with, especially our pitching.
Chris Johnson and Derek Lowe contracts are his fault too.
Ron E. Roberts
Exactly. We’re stuck with Chris Johnson another two years, too. I don’t put this on Fredi G. at all. You cook with the groceries bought. The B.J. Upton signing felt like an over-reach (and over-pay) then and it’s only more painfully obvious now.
Chris Johnson is signed for 3 more years (2015, 2016, 2017) with a team option for 2018.
The $ are less than BJ or Uggla, but the Braves will regret this contract also.
But the mindset is that “who do you replace them with”? Seriously. The 3B market is dry and the only options (Chase Headley this year) would be a massive overpay. They gambled on Chris Johnson’s career year and though it’s not a Upton-like gamble, they still will probably regret. I hated the move at the time only because Chris Johnson acts childish on the field, and is not the epitome of a Braves player, letting his emotions overtake logic and reason.
There was no need to gamble on Chris though, we still had him for a couple years throughout arbitration. The deal was awful.
Surprised no one has mentioned the infamous Kenshin Kawakami – who only was on the MLB roster for 1.75 years of a 3-year deal and served out the remainder of his deal as the highest-paid AA pitcher in Mississippi.
Wren needs to go IMO. Name one notable free agent signing he’s made that wasn’t a total disaster. Then you have CJ’s extension which is totally mind-boggling (props to CJ’s agent). Next you have the Braves bench, which has been historically bad this year. They had ample opportunity to even replace those guys with internal options and what has happened? Schafer gets DFA’d when we pick up Bonifacio but Pena and Don’t-hit Doumit get to stay? That’s all on Wren. If that’s not enough then how about the bullpen? Trading away a great catching prospect for James Russell, a lefty who can’t get out lefties when we needed a left handed specialist so badly. Meanwhile Rizzo lands Matt Thornton for the Nats and just look at his numbers since Washington picked him up.
Just so tired of everyone blaming the manager when the GM is more at fault in all of this than anyone else.
Ervin Santana, Aaron Harang, David Ross are notable free agent signings that worked out quite well.
Wren built the bullpen in its entirety, and it’s generally a very good group. If you want to call on the few negatives, you have to praise him for all the positives. The Braves could not afford Thornton’s contract.
The bench was and is bad, but that’s a relatively easy fix.
I should’ve said notable big money free agents, as that was what I meant. Santana was probably the only one, though he did cost a draft pick and was only necessary due to losing Medlen and Beachy and letting Hudson go to SF. Low cost free agent signings like Harang and Ross really don’t hurt the team if they don’t work out. I can come up with quite a few of those that were bad. Joe Mather comes to mind.
My main point is that fans are so quick to throw FG under the bus, but they never seem question the man that builds the roster. Wren has made some good trades over the years but as far as pointing blame for this season I feel like it’s on him. In any case I doubt he’ll get fired and he will have one hell of a job this offseason in sorting out the mess that is the Braves current roster.
Melvin Mendoza, Jr.
I agree that most of the blame belongs on Wren. However, Fredi has made some very questionable lineup decisions, and to make it worse, he sticks with them forever no matter how consistently they don’t work out. I have a feeling, though, that neither one of them will get fired this offseason. I could see a mid season canning of FG if the team continues to perform poorly next year, however.
Varitek’s got a great baseball mind, but I would be a bit wary of giving someone who has never managed at any level the manager job. He’s been a special assistant to the GM and that’s it. He needs to at least be a bench coach before someone gives him the reigns.
Brad Ausmus had never been a coach at any level before taking over the Tigers this season.
The manager job is overrated. I feel Varitek, or anybody else with clubhouse experience can man the manager’s seat. The difference between the worse possible lineup and best possible lineup in a season equates to roughly 1 win in a 162 game span
Kirk Edward Gerwin
I totally disagree. I’ve seen managers mismanage a bullpen which resulted in the team missing the post season and even damaging a pitchers career. Then there are times when they mismanage subs which results in the loss of a game. There are a lot of things that make a great manager which people seem to miss when watching the game. This is just the tip of the iceburg as well as there are numerous other things that a manager impacts over the course of a game, and season.
And the jury is still out for lunch on this one.
I’d say being Captain of the Boston Red Sox is more leadership experience than Brad Ausmus or Mike Matheny had. If a team who interviews Varitek feels he fits the job, then they’ll jump on him before someone else does. I definitely feel he will be a manager, provided he wants to be one.
Would love to see the Giants get a kid like Tomas… that would be a great IFA signing for Sabean.
I Completely agree!!!! It’s so good to see the Giants active in the Cuban active in the Cubn market!
Which Cuban have they signed? Which international players have they signed? Boston: Castillo, Matsuzaka. Yankees: El Duque, Contreras, Tanaka, Igawa. Cubs: Soler, Fukudome. White Sox: Abreu, Alexei. Rangers: Darvish, Leonys. Mariners: Iwakuma, Ichiro. Dodgers: Puig, Ryu, Guerrero. Athletics: Cespedes. Marlins: Fernandez, if you’re generous. Mets: Kaz. Many teams across the league have signed international superstars, but the Giants have yet to do so unless I’m missing someone obvious.
By active, David means that we’re connected to many international free agents, the Giants were in the running for Rusney Castillo, they were very connected to Jose Abreu, and now they’re front-runners for Tomas. They’ve also signed under the radar Cuban prospect Daniel Carbonell. Just because they haven’t signed any big names doesn’t mean they haven’t been active in the Cuban market.
By that measure, I’m “active” in the Ferrari market.
I look, I read, I make low ball bids, heck, I even have a t-shirt.
A real “active” enthusiast, I am.
“They’ve also signed under the radar Cuban prospect Daniel Carbonell.” Charlie, they still bought a Ferrari…
Dont take it too technically. The point here is that the Giants are attached to every big name international star and they aren’t making a SERIOUS play for any of them. They show up, kick some tires, request a private workout, then hope and pray that their lowball bid wins out. What we’re saying here is don’t get your hopes up Giants fans. This is standard Sabean protocol for a big free agent.
That you know of….
Many times, teams will give a top dollar amount for a guy and when it exceeds that amount, they back off…
” international superstars, but the Giants have yet to do so” half of the team is Venezuelan. Manasori “Mashi” Murakami was the first Japanese player to pitch in the major leagues in 1964.
(he was signed by the giants out of japan)
As a Padre fan I would not have an issue with Varitek replacing if that is the way Preller wants to go and it isn’t being pushed on him by Dee. I do believe Black could get this team to the playoffs if he was only given a playoff quality team, which he has never been given.
The Padres had been to the playoffs two years in a row when Bud Black was hired. I’d say he had been given a playoff quality team then…
Especially Black’s first year: prime Adrian Gonzalez, Cy Young-winning Jake Peavy, still-solid Greg Maddux surrounding a pretty good group of complimentary players in Khalil Greene, Chris Young, Trevor Hoffman, Mike Cameron and Brian Giles. They almost made it if it weren’t for Tony Gwynn Jr…
Bye Wren……………………..& take F.G. with you!!
Looks like Monfort did the O’s a favor… Miller has been much more useful
For the Braves, Hart and Coppolella would make a nice GM tandem. Keep Roger McDowell, Eddie Perez, and Doug Dascenzo from the current staff, but replace Fredi Gonzalez, Terry Pendleton (but keep him in the organization), Carlos Tosca, and the Walker/Fletcher combination. I would look at someone like Jason Veritek (or even David Ross, if he doesn’t continue playing) to be the new manager, but throw as much money at Chipper as possible to be the new hitting coach.
Eddie Perez has been being groomed in some capacity to play a larger role. He seems to have fostered many relationships and I’d be remissed if they went with either Varitek/Ross over Perez, who also is a former MLB catcher with a great mindset of the game.
When and how has Varitek been connected to the Padres before?
Mistake on my part. Meant to include a link with that sentence and failed to do so. I’ve added it to the post, but Rosenthal drew the connection back in August.
Hope Sandoval stays in Frisco but $$$$ talk…
Giants are always considered “front runners” for every Cuban star, and then they always let somebody else come in and outbid them. They just do not want to spend the money, especially on position players, they would rather throw the money at washed up hometown pitchers like Lincecum.
They don’t spend money on position players? 8/159 for Posey, 3/20 for Scutaro, 4/40 for Pagan, 5/90 for Pence, and bringing in Morse while developing Sandoval, Belt and Crawford isn’t spending money? They haven’t let single star position player from their 2012 title team walk, having re-signed two that offseason and one last offseason. If Sandoval walked, he’d be the first notable player Sabean has let walk. Sabean didn’t even let Aubrey Huff walk after ’10, instead signing him to that ill-fated two year extension.
I’m guessing that he’s talking about free agents. I was actually about to post the same thing. Don’t get your hopes up, Giants fans. Sabean attaches his name to every big free agent name (and since Puig, every International name) but never does anything meaningful. Somehow, the Giants remain as rumored names until the last rounds of talks, but never pull the trigger. I’m thinking that Sabean is hoping that one day, one of these guys will take less money/years to play in San Francisco.
Spoiler alert: they won’t. It’s kinnnnnnda their agent’s job to make sure they take the biggest paycheck.
Last 3 calender years:
Sandoval- 9.3 WAR, 120 wRC+, .338 wOBA, .285/.340/.439
Ramirez- 9.4 WAR, 130 wRC+, .366 wOBA, .293/.355/.489
You can’t go wrong with either player, but Aramis Ramirez would be a far more smarter and cost effective choice.
But, but, but….Sandoval comes with an adorable hat that you can sell at the merch stand.
I do like the possibility of signing Aramis Ramirez maybe to a 2 year deal while developing Duvall or someone else for 3rd base, but I don’t think we can rely on his defense, his age, or his health to hold out during these two years, not mention his loss of power when playing in AT&T. And as Charlies Hustle pointed out, Sandoval brings in A LOT of revenue due to his popularity
I’m actually a Red Sox fan looking for somebody other than WMB to play third base. Boston has plenty of needs to address this offseason and I just don’t want them blowing most of their available funds on Sandoval.
Would Sandoval still bring in A LOT of revenue due to his popularity after leaving SF? Panda is popular in the bay area but he doesn’t have the same marketability as say Pujols or Cano.
The Disney movie Kung Fu Panda is popular around the world and with all the family. Therefore, any team that gets Sandoval will have an instant Panda merchandise side of the player to consider. For a GM, a popular player like the Panda, or a player from a wealthy country (Korean, Taiwanese or Japanese player), bring extra money to the team which offsets some of the costs.
In fact, I’d be interested in seeing some stats on how much a mega-Japanese star like Ichiro or Darvish bring to their teams. Those contracts may look like great after figuring out TV deals, etc.
The movie “Kung Fu Panda” was popular around the world in 2008. You could even make the argument it experience a resurgence in 2011, when the sequel came out (although it didn’t make anywhere near as much money).
In 2015, you’d be much better off going with a dude who’s got a “Frozen”-themed name.
Also: DreamWorks, not Disney.
Regardless, SF would lose a lot more than a good 3rd baseman if they let Sandoval walk
I would become a instant fan of ANY gm that can sign Aramis for only 2 years. In other words, I dont think 2 years gets a deal done.
Any GM who gives Ramirez more than three years is going to regret it unless they plan to DH him for most of it
At 37, if he’s offered a QO, he should take it.
I don’t know if Duvall is really a candidate for developing at 3B. He hasn’t hit well at the major league level this year, but he doesn’t seem to have much left to prove in the minors and turned 26 two weeks ago.
It probably comes down to whether San Francisco thinks he can play third at the big league level.
Aramis Ramirez is 8 years older than Pablo and 6 years older than Hanley
I wouldn’t blame Wren for Uggla’s contract! I remember that i was very happy with his extension because he was a very good player back then. But in BJ Upton i can say the same, they overpaid waaaay too much!
Yeah I don’t get it, I felt it was a bit of an over pay in dollars and years, but he was coming off some impressive power seasons.
The jury is still out on the Chris Johnson extension. People say the Braves gambled, but in 3 of CJ’s first 4 seasons in the majors he’s had an .818, .777, and .816 OPS with a .308, .281 and .321 BA. He’s struggling this season, but it could very well just be a fluke. I agree though that maybe they should have waited, as he was under team control for 3 more years I believe.
I think Wren is still going to get fired though. Wren doesn’t seem to have good luck with big contracts for players outside the organization (Lowe, Uggla, Upton). Not to mention, his trades haven’t been good. Giving up a ton of prospects for a rental of Mark Teixiera, only to be flipped a year later for Casey freaking Kotchman. The Yunel Escobar deal turned out to be bad too.
The Braves just need a new vision. Wouldn’t be shocked if Fredi is out too.
I think the rationale behind the Johnson extension was to fix his cost in the event that he had another big year. Arbitration tends to value batting average quite highly.
For what it’s worth, Wren didn’t make the deal for Teixiera. That was John Schuerholz mortgaging the future for one last bat (when we had no pitching). Wren’s first move was to cash in a rapidly aging Edgar Renteria into Jair Jurrjens, who was pretty good until he lost it. I didn’t like the Escobar trade, but it didn’t turn out “bad.” He also got Infante and Ohman for nothing, Javier Vazquez for Tyler Flowers, got Derrek Lee for a playoff push for nothing. Michael Bourn was a big win. As was the Tommy Hanson for Walden trade. The Justin Upton/CJ trade was a smart, shrewd trade.
Not saying Wren’s not going to be fired. I’m good with him getting the pink slip if he’s taking Fredi with him. But Wren’s bad luck with big money contracts shouldn’t overshadow his great ability to make productive winning trades.
@ J.R. – John Schuerholz made the trade for Texieria, not Frank Wren.