It’s a longtime baseball cliche that little men come up big in the clutch when you least expect it. The complementary cliche is the one about big men who aren’t as big as they look until you least expect it or you liberate them from an impossible world.
“This was the year,” Dave Barry wrote with the year having barely a fortnight to go, “when American sports fans became more excited about their fantasy sports teams— which, for the record, are imaginary— than about sports teams that actually exist.” Barry is obviously not a baseball fan, the breed of whom would probably say of 2015 that, in more ways than one, it got late early out there.
Yes, I would rather be thinking aloud about such things as Jeff Samardzija’s slightly ridiculous contract. (Shades of Bud Black.) About whether John Lackey’s and (especially) Jason Heyward’s signings with the Cubs really do make them a 2016 World Series entrant. (Berra’s Law still applies, as the 2015 Nationals can tell you.) About how much financial flexibility Michael Cuddyer’s retirement leaves the Mets. (Some, but maybe not quite enough to think about re-signing Yoenis Cespedes.) Or Johnny Cueto signing with the Giants. Among other things.
□ PARCHING THE FARM? The Diamondbacks sent Ender Inciarte (outfield), Aaron Blair (RHP), and Dansby Swanson (shortstop and the first overall pick in the 2015 MLB draft) to the Braves for 2015′s hard-luck story Shelby Miller. Miller joining Zack Greinke in a new Diamondbacks rotation looks enticing and threatening at once, but there are those who think the Braves robbed the Snakes. Even if the trio going to Atlanta turns out merely to be solid.
Set aside for the moment that the Aroldis Chapman trade to the Dodgers may fall through thanks to a domestic violence investigation involving the Cincinnati closer and his girlfriend. It didn’t come to light until the winter meetings launched and it looked like Chapman was going west. And it’s thrown the winter meetings into a partial loop.
Now, ask yourself whether the Dodgers learned nothing from the 2015 Nationals.
Last year, the Red Sox decided they couldn’t afford to return Jon Lester for about $140 million less than they’ve decided they can afford to bring David Price aboard this year. This isn’t to say that Price won’t be huge for the Olde Towne Team, of course. But it will be a small headscratcher for a good while.