In an interesting bit of “what if” history, Scott Miller of Bleacher Report runs down the story of how new Angels manager Joe Maddon almost become the club’s skipper at the tail end of the ’90s (link). Apparently, former Angels GM Bill Bavasi identified Maddon back in 1996 as a potential future manager and hatched a plot to install the pitching mind as something of an heir apparent–assuming, of course, that Bavasi could secure the managerial services of Sparky Anderson to serve as Maddon’s mentor. The plan went awry, however, when Bavasi, then-team president Tony Tavares, and Anderson met for a fateful lunch. Apparently, Tavares was offput when Anderson, then 62, struggled to raise a soup spoon to his mouth with a steady hand, and the prez nixed the Anderson-Maddon succession plan immediately after the lunch date. The club later went with Terry Collins as manager (with Maddon serving as bench coach), with the club later going outside the org to hire Mike Scioscia after the ouster of Collins.
If Maddon is harboring any resentment over the way things worked out, he’s doing a good job of hiding it. “I couldn’t be more grateful, sincerely, for how things have worked out for me in my baseball career,” Maddon says in Miller’s article. “I’ve always been a big believer in not having anything happen to you before it’s time. In other words, I had to earn this opportunity, and I felt like I did by 2006.”
More news from around the diamond…
- Japanese phenom Roki Sasaki was selected today in NPB’s amateur draft by the Chiba Lotte Marines, according to the Japan Times (link). Sasaki, 18, was clocked at 101 mph during his time in high school, and many major league scouts were said to have an interest in luring the pitcher to the States. Had the youngster decided to forego the NPB draft, he could have signed with an MLB club in June; instead, he will report to the Marines under the guidance of Chibba Lotte captain and former MLB infielder Tadahito Iguchi. Iguchi, for one, is eager to have the firearmer in the fold. “He’s an extraordinary pitcher,” Iguchi said. “It’s scary to think how far he might go. He was the best player available and now it’s incumbent on us to nurture his potential.” Unlike the MLB Draft, every team in the NPB has an equal chance of landing the first overall pick; teams provide their first choice in secret to the league, and the player’s negotiating rights are decided by the drawing of lots. Some Japanese teams, including the Yomiuri Giants and the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, have refused in recent years to allow for the posting of players before they become nine-year veteran free agents. The Chiba Lotte org, meanwhile, has taken no such public stance, so it is not impossible to imagine Sasaki being posted for MLB clubs in the coming years.
- Conversations surrounding the Red Sox bullpen continued for much of the 2019 season, as the club’s decision to forego the Craig Kimbrel market caused many fans to wonder about front office priorities. It’s rather kind then, for Jen McCaffery of The Athletic to offer some free bullpen scouting in her latest piece, in which she looks at a few outside acquisitions who might be a fit in a Boston uniform. Trade options (Brandon Kintzler) and impending free agents (Steve Cishek, Will Harris) are both bandied, with McCaffery wondering aloud if Boston’s new leadership might be inclined to keep Brandon Workman in the ninth inning role he handled for much of 2019. The Sox recorded a collective 4.40 relief ERA last season, 18th among major league teams.