Let the intrigues begin in earnest . . .

They barely have the streets swept clean following the Kansas City Royals’ World Series parade, and the off-season intrigues have begun in earnest. OK, a couple began when it barely began sinking in that the New York Mets had blown a Series they actually could have won, or when Don Mattingly left the Los Angeles Dodgers and became the Miami Marlins’ new manager. But let’s start looking:

Rios, who forgot how many outs there were when he caught this Game Four fly . . .

Rios, who forgot how many outs there were when he caught this Game Four fly . . .

∆ We’ll start with the world champion Royals. They’re already said goodbye to right fielder Alex Rios and pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, declining to pick up each man’s 2016 option.

It’s not exactly surprising. Rios delivered a .640 OPS during the regular 2015 season and, while he had his moments in the postseason, his blunder in Game Four—thinking he’d caught the third out mistakenly, allowing Wilmer Flores to score and a Curtis Granderson fly to become a sacrifice fly—almost became the misplay of the game until Daniel Murphy’s misplays in the eighth inning. And Guthrie pitched his way out of the Royals’ rotation and wasn’t even a topic in the postseason.

∆ Alex Anthopolous saw the future of the American League East champion Toronto Blue Jays and was not amused. Neither was about half the Canadian press. Anthopolous resigned as the Jays’ general manager when former Cleveland chieftain Mark Shapiro was brought in as the Jays’ new CEO.

Anthopolous wouldn’t specify why he decided to walk, but the actual or alleged smart money is saying he didn’t feel comfortable certain degrees of power to Shapiro. The man who built the Blue Jays’ AL East champion is now up for grabs.

∆ Since Shapiro’s assumption of power, the Jays have exercised options on pitcher R.A. Dickey, outfielder Jose Bautista, and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion. Dickey’s option will pay him $12 million for 2016, Bautista’s will pay him $14 million, and Encarnacion’s will pay him $10 million. That’s three key pieces of the Jays’ run to the postseason secured. But will they make the effort to keep David Price?

∆ He couldn’t quite get the Mets all the way to the World Series championship, but manager Terry Collins will have two more years to manage the National League champions. The dollars weren’t disclosed at this writing but Collins gets a new two-year contract, likely his last before he retires, as he’s said he’d like to do “in a couple of years.”

Greinke lays a big bet on his future . . .

Greinke lays a big bet on his future . . .

∆ The least-surprising hot stove dish thus far: Zack Greinke exercising his opt-out option. The Cy Young Award candidate was expected to opt out of his incumbent deal and test the market, though it’s entirely possible the well-apportioned Los Angeles Dodgers could bring him back on a slightly better deal.

With three years left on the deal it means Greinke betting $71 million on getting that better deal.

Is he no longer hazardous to a pitching staff's health? Washington will learn soon enough . . .

Is he no longer hazardous to a pitching staff’s health? Washington will learn soon enough . . .

∆ Dusty Baker will be the new Washington Nationals manager—after the Nats first pursued but broke it off with former San Diego manager Bud Black. After the Matt Williams fiasco the Nats wanted an experience manager, but Black bristled at an offer he considered a low-ball compared to what, for example, Mattingly is getting from the Marlins with less experience than Black has.

Meanwhile the prize for the incredibly stupid remark of the week must go to Forbes‘s Steve Kettman, writing that the single key for Baker bringing the Nats to the World Series will be “teaching Bryce Harper to be a man . . . Under Baker’s guidance Harper will be the best player in baseball next year.” I guess being the best player in baseball this year just wasn’t good enough even while Kettman said nothing about why Harper yet needs to learn to be a man.

∆ The real thing to beware with Baker: Has he learned at last not to burn out or misread his pitching staffs?

Tipping his cap after being lifted inexplicably in 2014 division series Game Two, Zimmermann wasn't even allowed to say farewell to Nats fans this year . . .

Tipping his cap after being lifted inexplicably in 2014 division series Game Two, Zimmermann wasn’t even allowed to say farewell to Nats fans this year . . .

∆ Otherwise, eight Nats have become free agents: Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, Casey Janssen, Nate McLouth, Denard Span, Matt Thornton, Dan Uggla, and Jordan Zimmermann. For Janssen and McLouth, free agency became a reality after the Nats declined to pick up their options.

Fister tanked his way to the bullpen in 2015 and probably won’t return unless he’s willing to take a pay cut—if the Nats offer even that. Desmond, Span, and Zimmermann are likely to move on though they’ll likely get the qualifying offers that keep the Nats from losing them empty. And they won’t exactly miss Uggla while finding other ways to deepen their infield.

∆ Joe Nathan missed practically all of 2015 after a torn ulnar collateral ligament and a flexor pronator tear in his right arm sent him to a second Tommy John surgery. Not surprisingly, the Detroit Tigers have chosen not to pick up his 2016 option. Nathan has said he wants to make a comeback after rehabbing from the surgery.

∆ Eight Chicago Cubs have filed for free agency—including Dexter Fowler, Austin Jackson, Trevor Cahill, Chris Donorfia, Tommy Hunter, Jason Motte, Fernando Rodney, and Dan Haren. Haren, however, has already indicated he’d retire. Fowler’s second-half splash was impressive but the Cubs have said they’re looking for more pitching, which may freeze him out of their plans.

But it might bring Cahill back into the Cubs’ cave, since his late-season pitching impressed the team enough that they might offer him a new deal. Might.

Nagy in Arizona, where his thinking man's style collided with Kevin Towers's tough-guy act . . .

Nagy in Arizona, where his thinking man’s style collided with Kevin Towers’s tough-guy act . . .

∆ The Los Angeles Angels have a new pitching coach: Charles Nagy, who held that job with the Arizona Diamondbacks most recently, until he was purged amidst then-GM Kevin Towers’s get-tough philosophy. (We know how that worked out for the Snakes.) In 2015, Nagy (pronounced “naggy,” which isn’t exactly his personality) worked in player development for the Cleveland Indians—for whom he was once a three-time All Star pitcher. Ironically, Mike Butcher, purged as the Angels’ pitching coach after the season, is now . . . the Diamondbacks’ pitching coach.

Nagy’s purge out of Arizona didn’t exactly sit well with many of his pitchers: “He might not be as boisterous as other coaches, might not be as outspoken, but Charlie, the best way I can put it is, he has this quiet storm about him,” said then-Arizona pitcher Joe Saunders, himself a former Angel. “He has a real quiet mentality, a real laid-back attitude. But when something needs to get done or be said, he says it—and says it in the right way. He’s very good at giving constructive criticism if need be.”

Nagy isn’t exactly a stranger to the Angels, either: he was once the pitching coach at their Salt Lake City farm.

6 thoughts on “Let the intrigues begin in earnest . . .

  1. I am finding out just how little most managers make. Mike Scioscia, Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon are the exception. All three of them earned $5 million in 2015.

    Terry Collins managed the Mets to a World Series appearance, and will receive less than $2 million a year in his extension. Will be interesting to see how well the Royals pay Ned Yost, for being the most successful postseason manager ever with a 22-9 record.

    • I’m curious to know what Yost will earn myself. The man’s certainly earned a raise. I’m betting he’ll be named the American League’s Manager of the Year if either John Gibbons (Toronto) or A.J. Hinch (Houston) aren’t. (The National League? It could go to Joe Maddon. It could go to Terry Collins. It could go to Mike Matheny. Your guess would be as good as mine.)

      As far as Yost being the most successful postseason manager ever, you can say he has the best postseason winning percentage thus far, but you can’t say he’s the most successful postseason manager thus far in terms of the net results.

      Granted today’s postseason is (unnecessarily) more difficult, and I think (hah! you thought you’d escape without me saying it again!) they should be done with the wild cards, return to two-division leagues, then return the League Championship Series to a best of five and keep the World Series best-of-seven and, while we’re at it, be done with the foolishness of pegging World Series home-field advantage to the All Star Game result.

      But right now Yost is still playing catch-up with Bruce Bochy (San Francisco: three pennants, three World Series), Tony La Russa (six pennants, three World Series), Joe Torre (six pennants, four World Series), Walter Alston (seven pennants, four World Series), and Casey Stengel (ten pennants, seven World Series).

      You could say Bochy among current managers has the most impressive such streak in the making: every time he’s won a pennant, he’s also won a World Series. So far. He won’t match Stengel’s jaw-dropper of five straight pennants and World Series; I’m not sure anybody will.

      • Ned Yost has a long way to go to be compared to the managers you mentioned.

        I wish they would go back to the days, when the team with best record in each league went to the World Series, and only have to win four games in World Series to be the champions.

        • I was happy with standard two-divisional play, too, if the leagues had to expand. It could still be done. But we both know why it was turned into the mishmosh it’s been since the mid-1990s. Mr. Selig—and apparently his successor—seem to have forgotten, if they ever knew, that the common good of the game isn’t the same thing as making money for the owners.

          • I still haven’t forgiven Bud Selig for canceling the 1994 World Series. I feel like he almost enjoyed canceling it, since it showed the players who was boss.

  2. I still remember the owners doing everything in their power to push the players toward that strike, then managing somehow to own the party line about it and make it seem like it was the players’ fault for refusing to stop them before they overspent, misspent, or mal-spent again. Like it was the players who were being recalcitrant when the owners knew damn well the players would never go for a salary cap to solve the owners’ insanities. (Even like it was Jerry McMorris—then the owner of the Rockies—who was being a fool when, as just about the only owner who wasn’t looking to push for the strike and even break the players’ union, he proposed the one thing the players might have gone for but the owners wouldn’t at the time, but which eventually did come in to play well after the strike was ended: the luxury tax, which the players did end up shooting down at the time of the approach to the strike because they smelled yet another deterrent to signing players. McMorris showed rare courage that came from his own background: he’d made his fortune in the trucking industry, his operations were unionised, and he’d never had a strike hit his operations.)

    Though in fairness there were a few players who looked pretty idiotic in their own right during that strike. The number one such idiot: Lou Whitaker. He was stupid enough to show up for one negotiating session in a chauffeured limousine. Who did he think he was—an owner? ;)

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