New Dodgers Ownership Is Giving Similar Free Rein As The Old One

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The only difference between the new Dodgers’ ownership, fronted by Magic Johnson and backed by a lot of rich people, is that they’re more well-liked and aren’t plundering the organization to keep up a lavish lifestyle as the McCourts did. In the personnel department, the GMs have been allowed to do what they wanted in terms of player moves and that extends past current GM Ned Colletti and to former GM Paul DePodesta—Frank McCourt’s first hire.

The Dodgers have made a series of bold deals this season in turning over the roster and adding major money and veteran players Hanley Ramirez, Joe Blanton, Shane Victorino, Brandon League and Randy Choate. They were also willing to take on Cliff Lee’s $87 million contract; signed Matt Kemp (while McCourt was selling the team) and Andre Ethier to contract extensions; and invested $42 million in Cuban defector Yasiel Puig.

But is there a difference between what Colletti/DePodesta did then as to what’s happening now?

In 2004, in his first full season as the Dodgers’ GM and functioning with former GM Dan Evans’s players and manager Jim Tracy, DePodesta had a free hand to do what he wanted and took a sledgehammer to a team that was 60-42 and in first place in the NL West by making a series of disastrous trades, decimating what had been one of the game’s best bullpens by trading righty reliever Guillermo Mota along with catcher Paul LoDuca and outfielder Juan Encarnacion to the Marlins for first baseman Hee-Seop Choi, righty starter Brad Penny and lefty reliever Bill Murphy. The entire intent of these deals was to flip Penny to the Diamondbacks for Randy Johnson—adding more money—but Johnson refused to sign off on the trade. Penny made one start for the Dodgers and got hurt. DePodesta also traded for catcher Brent Mayne and outfielder Steve Finley. The Dodgers staggered to the finish line, made the playoffs and were dispatched in the first round by the Cardinals.

DePodesta was fired after the 2005 season when the club, after a 12-2 start, fell to 71-91 amid infighting among other players he brought in with a tone deafness as to clubhouse chemistry. Milton Bradley and Jeff Kent along with the always charming Penny turned the clubhouse toxic and it showed on the field. After the season, McCourt replaced DePodesta with Colletti.

Colletti has never let the media perception and public demands that he bag a season by selling dissuade him from being aggressive and trying to win when his team is within striking distance of a playoff spot. With the Dodgers in last place and under .500 (though close enough to first place to provide ample justification), he went for it at the deadline in 2006 by acquiring Greg Maddux, Julio Lugo and Wilson Betemit. Benefited by the weak NL, the Dodgers went on a hot streak and won the Wild Card before losing to the Mets in the NLDS.

After a disappointing 2007, the Dodgers spent big to hire legendary former Yankees’ manager Joe Torre. In 2008, they traded for Manny Ramirez and all his baggage and Manny went on a tear, leading the Dodgers to the NLCS. They signed him for two more years after that. At the deadline in 2008, they also acquired Casey Blake from the Indians for top prospect Carlos Santana and reacquired Maddux.

In 2009, as they were on the way to winning 95 games and the NL West, they acquired Jim Thome, George Sherrill, Ronnie Belliard and Jon Garland. In 2010, struggling but again in striking distance of the top of the division, they traded for Ted Lilly, Ryan Theriot, Octavio Dotel and Scott Podsednik. It didn’t work and Torre’s managerial career ended with an 80-82 season and the first missed playoff season since before he managed the Yankees.

McCourt owned the team that entire time.

Now, with the new ownership and team president Stan Kasten, the Dodgers are being lauded for “going for it” with money as no object. But it’s the same as it’s been for the past eight years. To say that Colletti is a veteran-centric GM who doesn’t care about prospects is ignoring that he refused to surrender top pitching prospect Zach Lee and that the Dodgers have spent big on draft picks and international free agents; that he drafted Clayton Kershaw and developed him into a superstar; that the club has been willing go after veterans from other clubs and act quickly to rectify mistakes by benching struggling, highly-paid vets like Juan Uribe.

It’s easy to credit Dodgers’ new ownership, but the truth is that it’s the GM—decidedly not a stat guy—who is the one who should be recognized for the way he’s running the team and his ability to ignore outsiders telling him what he should do and instead following his own path. It’s no surprise. The evidence is right there in black and white. This is how Colletti runs his team and that’s the way it was then and the way it is now.

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Thome The First Phillies’ Domino To Fall

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Now that Jim Thome has been traded from the Phillies to the Orioles for two low level minor leaguers, no one’s come up with a realistic answer as to why he signed with the Phillies in the first place.

It only made moderate sense for the Phillies hoping that he’d be happy as a pinch-hitter and DH in inter-league play. It would be the height of arrogance (possible) that the Phillies were looking forward to a World Series for Thome to be the DH in the AL parks.

But did both parties really think Thome was going to be able to play first base?

In what world is Thome—even as he’s turning 42 in August—mentioned in the same breath with other former Phillies’ pinch hitters Greg Dobbs, Ross Gload and Matt Stairs?

Thome can still hit and be productive as a semi-regular DH in the American League. That’s why re-signing with the Phillies made little-to-no sense for him and was done far too early in the free agent process to give the pretense of preplanning on either side. It was a rushed reunion like divorced spouses rekindling a relationship and hoping it would work out a second time.

But those types of reunions rarely work out.

The return to Philadelphia was a decision based on sentimentality and the friendship between Thome and Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel.

As curious as the signing was in November, this trade is more curious.

Considering Thome had played 4 games at first base this season, Ryan Howard’s pending return had nothing to do with this trade. Thome was a pinch-hitter and Howard is their everyday first baseman. There’s no connection between the two.

The only obvious answer as to why this trade was made is that this is beginning of a Phillies’ sell off.

There’s no other explanation. Perhaps they’re going to give it another 3 weeks to see where they are before going full bore into sell mode and trading their two big name pending free agents Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino, but they’re preparing for that eventuality.

Even with the return of Chase Utley, they’ve lost 4 straight games. They’re 36-44, 10 ½ games out of first place in the NL East and 7 ½ games out of first in the Wild Card. The deficit can be overcome, but they have to win a few games of their own to do it.

They’re not auctioning Hamels and Victorino on July 1st, but you can bet if teams are calling GM Ruben Amaro Jr. to inquire about those two players, Amaro’s telling those teams that they’re not available…yet. He’s telling them to keep in touch and is thinking about what he wants in exchange for Hamels and Victorino.

You can also bet that the Phillies’ scouts are fanning out to look at the minor league systems of the teams that are calling about Hamels and Victorino so they have an idea of what to ask for if they do put them on the market.

Thome was the first domino.

If the Phillies don’t start winning soon, the other ones are going to fall by the end of the month.

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Has Ruben Amaro Jr. Met Jim Thome?

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Ruben Amaro Jr. says some of the most ridiculous things in explaining his bizarre decisions.

The quote clipped from this posting on MLB Trade Rumors about the Phillies looking to trade Jim Thome follows:

The ideal situation right now, because he can’t really play defense in the National League, would be for Jim to play in the American League,” Amaro said. “He still has the ability to win a game for us and be productive off the bench. The problem is, the further away he gets from regular at-bats, the more difficult it becomes for him to do that.”

Has Amaro met Thome? Is he forgetting that he signed him last fall and could’ve uttered the above quote verbatim as an explanation of why he wasn’t going to sign him? The thought that Thome could play some first base was ridiculous and, as expected, he’s not happy as a pure pinch-hitter. He can still produce and there are teams—my money’s on the Blue Jays—that can use him.

The Phillies shouldn’t have signed him in the first place.

This might be characterized as the beginning of a potential Phillies’ sell-off. Chase Utley returned to action on Wednesday and the team promptly lost the next two games to the Pirates. But I don’t see any connection between the decision to shop Thome and a housecleaning. It’s more of a similar admission from Amaro that he made a mistake. While not as drastic as when he traded Cliff Lee for prospects and acquired Roy Halladay, then had to bolster the starting rotation the next summer by getting Roy Oswalt and re-signed Lee the next winter, it’s still a do-over.

Amaro’s lucky that the Ryan Madson deal he was said to have offered—link—didn’t go through. After Madson signed with the Reds and got hurt with Tommy John surgery, there would’ve been no fixing that with a “whoops, never mind” and the Phillies would be in even worse shape than they are now.

And where they are now isn’t particularly good either.

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Raul Ibanez Can’t Play Shortstop

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Raul Ibanez is not a good outfielder.

Raul Ibanez has no speed on the bases.

Raul Ibanez doesn’t hit lefties anymore, doesn’t get on base with the frequency he once did and has to cheat by starting his swing earlier to get around on a good fastball.

These were the issues broached by stat people looking for a reason to set the tone for the debate when the Yankees interest in Ibanez was first reported.

Propaganda is part of any “revolution” with facts secondary to steering public opinion.

But do they think the Yankees were unaware of these issues when began considering him? Before they signed him to a 1-year, $1.1 million contract?

Saying Ibanez is a bad outfielder and can’t run is like saying he’s not a good shortstop or can’t throw a good curveball on the mound. He’s not going to play shortstop; he’s not going to pitch; and the Yankees don’t need him to play the outfield. If he even brings a glove along with him to spring training, it will be a first baseman’s mitt to spell Mark Teixeira a few games so Teixeira can DH against righties.

He can’t run?

Is he supposed to bat leadoff and steal 30 bases?

He’s going to DH, play some first base and, in an absolute emergency, play the outfield. He’ll bat seventh, hit 20 homers against righties and provide some punch that the opposition has to account for—not worry about—account for.

He’s a good guy in the clubhouse, will handle New York, is well-liked by the media and has post-season experience.

Could the Yankees have done better than Ibanez? If Jim Thome had stayed on the market and taken that short salary for a chance at a ring, absolutely. But Thome signed with the Phillies early in the free agent process for slightly more than what Ibanez got from the Yankees.

What those silly statements indicate has nothing to do with analysis. They’re an attempt to say, “Because Player X doesn’t do (BLANK), he’s a bad signing.”

But what if Player X isn’t signed to do the thing he can’t do? What if he’s signed to do what he does?

Isn’t that part of the equation?

The same stat people who are invested in advanced statistics have to know that Ibanez also hit in some terrible luck last season with a BAbip of .268 when his career mark is .303; that the only numbers that declined precipitously were his walk % and pitches seen per at bat. Coincidentally (or not) these are the same numbers and eyeball judgments referenced by Joel Sherman—link—to denigrate Johnny Damon as expanding his strike zone to accumulate more hits and reach 3000 for a Hall of Fame ticket.

They’re aware of this, are they not?

There are entities trying to find reasons to criticize while simultaneously bolstering their own rickety credentials as “experts”; they feel they’re smarter than inside baseball people, but don’t have facts as a foundation, so they try to trick their readers—readers who are either too ignorant or frightened to protest.

Is this objectivity? Or is it nonsense with an agenda?

Ibanez’s days as a shortstop are over.

The problem is that he was never a shortstop in the first place.

That’s conveniently left out because it fails to suit the argument.

But I guess that doesn’t really matter, does it?

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Warning Signs Abound for the Phillies

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It’s no secret that the window for the Phillies to continue dominating the National League East is closing rapidly. Looking at their roster, age and contracts, there were concerns before the news that they intend to go with Ty Wigginton as their regular first baseman and a platoon of John Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix in left field to replace Raul Ibanez.

(Domonic Brown? What’s a Domonic Brown?)

A left field platoon of Nix and Mayberry should be productive enough. Nix’s good defense and pop will counteract—to a point—his lack of on-base skills. Mayberry deserves the chance to play every day, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said there will likely be a platoon.

Wigginton can’t field, Jim Thome can barely move, and Chase Utley’s range is compromised by his physical breakdown. The Phillies strength on the mound will be damaged by porous defense on the right side of the infield.

The National League East no longer automatically belongs to the Phillies. The Marlins have made major free agent acquisitions; the Nationals are improved; and the Braves are being ignored because of their lack of movement, but are still very good.

The Phillies are old, expensive and trapped by a payroll that’s at its limit. Despite assertions to the contrary, Roy Halladay is human and can’t keep up his excellence forever. They can rely on their top three starters for 2012 as Halladay and Cliff Lee are still at the top of their games and Cole Hamels is singing for his free agent supper. Vance Worley is entering his second go-round through the league and, much like Jason Isringhausen proved with the Mets from 1995-1996, it’s not as easy as Worley made it look in 2011 by blasting fastballs and swagger.

The Phillies offense was a problem last season in spite of the pitching carrying them to 102 wins. They didn’t hit in the playoffs and it was the main reason they got bounced in the first round.

They’ve done nothing to improve that offense and will be without Ryan Howard for at least the first two months of the season.

Have they repaired the problems that contributed to their playoff losses in 2010-2011? An upgrade was made by replacing their on-again/off-again closer Ryan Madson with one of baseball’s best in Jonathan Papelbon, but it’s not an upgrade so significant that it will account for worsening offense and defense.

Considering their payroll issues and that their farm system is largely gutted, they won’t be able to do anything drastic at mid-season to fix their issues as they have in the past.

Flashing warning signs are everywhere and teams that have had five year runs as the Phillies have tend to come apart quickly. Due to reality, circumstance, personnel errors, desperation trades, overpriced contracts and compromises to the present, the Phillies fall might come a year or two early.

That fall will be rapid. Don’t be stunned if it begins in earnest in 2012.

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Thome Signing Makes Very Little Sense For Both Him And The Phillies

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Jim Thome hasn’t played first base in more than 3 games in a season since the last time he put on a Phillies uniform in 2005.

He played in 3 games at first base for the White Sox in 2006.

Ryan Howard—the player who made Thome expendable in 2005—is going to be out until May at the earliest after tearing his achilles tendon making the final out in the Phillies NLDS loss to the Cardinals.

But he’s going to be back.

None of this stopped the Phillies and Thome from coming to an agreement on a 1-year, $1.5 million contract.

The Phillies take defense seriously and with their pitching staff, it’s clear why. As likable as Thome is, it won’t take long before his lack of mobility becomes a problem if balls that should be caught are rolling through the right side of the infield.

Are the Phillies seriously considering using Thome—basically a statue and 41-years-old—at first base?

Is he a replacement as a lefty bat off the bench for Ross Gload? Gload could play the outfield and first base; Thome’s much more of an offensive threat.

And if they’re not intending to give him consistent at bats, then why did Thome sign with them so quickly when he could’ve waited to see if an offer from an American League club—the Red Sox; Blue Jays; Yankees; Mariners—came along so he could play more often? Thome hit 15 homers in 324 plate appearances with the Twins and Indians in 2011 and posted a still-impressive .361 on base percentage. He can still hit and is capable of playing regularly as a DH.

So why go to the National League where the DH is not an option?

I can’t imagine the Phillies using Thome at first base more than twice a week if he’s capable—and there’s no guarantee he will be—so he’s going to be a pinch hitter.

For the Phillies, it’s a great pickup…as long as they don’t intend to drastically compromise their defense to accommodate Thome.

For Thome, it’s a quick decision and conscious choice to be a very part-time player.

The Phillies sometimes make some odd decisions that eventually make sense.

Earlier this year, they were inquiring about Michael Young and no one understood why until it was discovered that Chase Utley would be out for a large chunk of the season and that Placido Polanco was battling multiple injuries; they could’ve used a versatile veteran like Young to fill in for Utley, Polanco and Jimmy Rollins.

Perhaps there’s a logical explanation for the Thome signing apart from him enjoying his time with the Phillies and not being bothered about getting, at most, 250 at bats for the whole season; but right now, I can’t see one other than nostalgia—and a signing based on nostalgia is not a good thing unless it’s for a one day contract.

And I never really understood those either.

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Stat Guy Strong Arm

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Dave Cameron of USS Mariner and Fangraphs provides this prescription to begin fixing the Mariners woes for 2012.

Here’s the clip from the above link:

Transactions

Trade RHP Michael Pineda, RHP Brandon League, OF Greg Halman, 3B Chone Figgins (with Seattle absorbing $16 of remaining $17 million on Figgins’ contract), and SS Carlos Triunfel to Cincinnati for 1B Joey Votto and C Yasmani Grandal.

Trade 1B Mike Carp to Milwaukee for 3B Casey McGehee and RHP Marco Estrada.

Trade OF Michael Saunders and RHP Dan Cortes to Florida for RHP Chris Volstad.

Trade LHP Cesar Jimenez to New York for OF Angel Pagan.

Sign Chris Snyder to a 1 year, $3 million contract.

Sign Erik Bedard to a 1 year, $4 million contract.

Sign Jamie Moyer to a 1 year, $500,000 contract.

That’s only part one; I can’t wait for part two. Maybe there he’ll send Miguel Olivo and Brendan Ryan to the Yankees for Jesus Montero.

This thinking epitomizes what one William Lamar Beane—aka Billy Beane—said to Tom Verducci in one of the “it’s not Billy’s fault” pieces that came out to defend Beane (in advance of the homage known as Moneyball, THE MOVIE) for putting together a bad Athletics team; a team that Verducci himself picked to win the AL West before the season.

Beane’s argument was that the new breed of GMs have burst into baseball and are doing essentially what Cameron is doing; they’re saying “here’s what we’ll give you and if you’re smart, you’ll take it” in a Luca Brasi (or Frank Wren) sort of way.

Short of kidnapping his family or putting a gun to his head, I don’t know what Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik could do to Reds GM Walt Jocketty to get him to accept the above package for Votto.

Though I see Tommy John in his future, Pineda’s very good; League is a guy you can find very cheaply on the market; Halman strikes out too much, doesn’t walk and from his numbers is a bad outfielder; Triunfel hasn’t shown he can hit in the minors; and you can have Chone Figgins and we’ll pay him. For that, you can give us a top catching prospect and one of the best hitters in baseball. We all done? Okay. Good.

The other deals are just as delusional.

What is this obsession with Erik Bedard and the Mariners? Haven’t they had enough?

Moyer? Again? He’s had a wonderful career, but he’s almost 50. Move on.

You want Pagan? He’s yours.

Why the Marlins would take Cortes and Saunders at all, least of all for Volstad, is unclear and unexplained.

Without getting into a long-winded “my way’s better” critique of Cameron’s plan, how about—before anything else—Zduriencik walking into ownership on hands and knees and begging to let him get rid of Ichiro Suzuki? Signing Josh Willingham? Pursuing Jose Reyes or Prince Fielder? Making a major bid for Yu Darvish? Jim Thome? David Ortiz?

Wouldn’t these be preferable options than making a lunatic proposal for Votto that would be rejected?

These deals are typical of the concept that outsiders with a forum and a stat sheet envision as the simplicity as to how deals are made. We call you, you accept and we’re done.

Much like the same people have the audacity to say—in a grudging tribute to Tony LaRussa on the day of his retirement and immediately after he wins a World Series—“I didn’t always agree with his strategies, but…” they have this vision of innate knowledge that doesn’t exist; of what they’d do.

They cling.

They cling to Moneyball being “real”; cling to the likes of Charlie Haeger, R.J. Swindle and Dale Thayer; and cling to a so-called revolution that was self-serving from the start.

It’s fine to print an off-season prescription of a scenario that could only exist in Tolkien, but this is reality; you’re not getting Votto for that package even if you do put a gun to Jocketty’s head and/or kidnap his family.

Jocketty would say, “kill me first”.

And I would say that too.

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Your 2012 Rangers Seeking A Different—Winning—Result

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Those trying to blame Rangers manager Ron Washington for the World Series loss are looking for scapegoats. Talent aside, there have been many teams who didn’t fulfill their promise for one reason or another; to suggest that another manager would simply have plugged in the correct players at the “right” time are taking second-guessing to its logical conclusion.

The players play hard for Washington and always have; the Rangers knew he wasn’t the strongest game manager going back to his first year and he hasn’t gotten much better; but to blame him?

It’s silly. Another manager might not have even made the playoffs at all.

We don’t know.

He had his closer on the mound with a 2 run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning of game 6 in the World Series; there were 2 strikes and 2 outs and his closer blew it. What more was he supposed to do?

The Rangers have more pressing questions to answer once they get past this devastating loss.

Let’s take a look.

Washington’s contract is up after 2012.

While Washington shouldn’t be dismissed because of this loss, there’s going to be the hovering question—valid or not—as to whether he’s the prototypical “manager to take them to the next level”.

That’s usually an excuse for a club wanting to make a managerial change, but it’s just as random as any other reason—they don’t have to give a reason to make a change.

Washington’s job is safe and he’ll probably get an extension through 2013 so he’s not working in the final year of his deal in 2012.

Mr. Intangibles is expensive.

The player with the most ancillary importance in baseball this side of Derek Jeter—rife with leadership skills and loyalty—Michael Young still might be trade bait.

He’s set to make $32 million through 2013 and is a 10-and-5 player (10 years in the league; 5 years with the same team) so he’d have to approve any trade; there’s something of a redundancy with the club’s position players and Young’s value is never going to be higher than it is now by those who either need someone who’s as versatile and well-liked as he is or are hypnotized by his “aura”.

The Mets for example could use him as a second baseman; the Phillies could use him as a roving utility player who plays every day.

The Rangers will listen to offers—again—for Young.

Contracts and free agents.

Josh Hamilton is a free agent after 2012 and the Rangers have to consider very carefully his injury history and substance abuse history before making a $120 million investment.

Perhaps God will whisper to Hamilton that he should stay in Texas at a reduced rate.

C.J. Wilson is a free agent now and while the Rangers want to keep him, they’re not getting into a bidding war to do it. Those that were suggesting that his price was reducing with every poor post-season outing don’t know anything about baseball, pure and simple. 200 innings are 200 innings and his post-season struggles had more to do with location than any diminishing of stuff. He’s going to get his big contract from someone and it’s probably not going to be the Rangers.

Strategies.

If the Rangers are going to move Neftali Feliz into the starting rotation, they have to make the decision once and for all—in the winter—and stick to it. The “let’s try it in spring training and move him back if it doesn’t work” isn’t a decision, it’s hedging.

Feliz is 23 and after the way the World Series ended for him, the choice has to be made with finality.

Pursuits.

The Rangers have been said to be preparing a pursuit of CC Sabathia if and when he opts out of his Yankees contract. It’s unlikely that the Yankees will let him leave, but worst case scenario, they’ll raise the price the Yankees have to pay and possibly negate them from going after other players the Rangers might want.

Yu Darvish is going to be worth every penny he costs in posting fees and contracts and will be better than Wilson.

The Rangers could use a bat if they decide to trade Young; David Ortiz and Jim Thome would fit nicely in at DH; if they allocate their money to a bat rather than on the mound, Prince Fielder is a target. Mark Buehrle wouldn’t ask for the world in terms of dollars and is a good fit in the Rangers clubhouse.

If they need a closer, Jonathan Papelbon has the post-season history that few closers in baseball do; Francisco Rodriguez and Heath Bell are big names; Brad Lidge, Joe Nathan and Ryan Madson are free agents on the lower tier.

On the trade front, the Rays are always ready to deal and James Shields is durable, good and signed long term. Both the Rangers and Rays think outside the box, so I’d ask about David Price and see what they say.

Would they—Nolan Ryan and Mike Maddux—think they could straighten out Mike Pelfrey? Would Pelfrey and Bobby Parnell and the hope of clearing Young’s salary make a deal possible with the Mets?

The Rangers and White Sox have dealt with one another before and John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Carlos Quentin are up for auction.

Rangers GM Jon Daniels and team president Ryan think differently and are aggressive to address needs. The Rangers are going to make the changes they deem necessary so they’re back in this same position a year from now, but finally achieve a different result—a winning result.

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David Ortiz Is Yapping His Way Out Of Boston

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The days of players like Gary Sheffield and David Wells cutting side deals with George Steinbrenner around the desires of the Yankees baseball people ended upon the Boss’s death.

Hank Steinbrenner won’t be allowed to repeat the mistake he made in taking Alex Rodriguez back after Rodriguez’s 2007 contract opt-out.

With Brian Cashman’s contract expiring and the disastrous Rafael Soriano signing, Randy Levine won’t be interfering again anytime soon.

So David Ortiz can’t hope for some random act of stupidity on the part of anyone aligned with the current Yankees to garner him a contract with the club for 2012.

But as the Red Sox world crumbles, Ortiz’s self-interested complaints and weak defenses of the Red Sox clubhouse charade are not helping matters. Now he’s openly musing about playing for the Yankees.

The Yankees—already overloaded with declining veterans signed to contracts they can’t move—might, might have interest in Ortiz if his stats were attached to another player from another team. But with Mark Teixeira and A-Rod in decline; their “will they or won’t they” decision on bringing back Nick Swisher; the CC Sabathia opt-out and starting pitching holes, the last thing they need is to start another level of the Red Sox-Yankees war by signing Ortiz.

If they’re looking for a mashing DH, they have a young, cheap hitter named Jesus Montero who looks like he’d do just fine if he were given the job full-time.

So what would they need Ortiz for?

Ortiz appears to be living in a past where he was an icon in Boston and the team had no other viable alternatives to him in their lineup and couldn’t let him leave; a time when, with every homer Ortiz launched into the right field porch at Yankee Stadium, the late George Steinbrenner was constantly reminding Cashman how he’d told his GM to sign Ortiz when the Twins non-tendered him after the 2002 season and Cashman ignored Steinbrenner because he had nowhere to put him.

Ortiz is considering leaving Boston?

Okay.

Where’s he going?

He can’t play the field, so that eliminates the 16 teams in the National League.

The Yankees won’t want him; the Rays won’t pay him. The White Sox have a clogged up DH spot with Adam Dunn and the last thing a neophyte manager Robin Ventura needs is Ortiz walking in with his sideshow. The Indians? The Royals? The Rangers?

None of those teams are landing spots.

The Blue Jays, Mariners, Athletics, Angels, Twins and Orioles could use Ortiz’s bat, but none are going to pay him what the Red Sox will.

Could the Red Sox say to themselves they could use a different, quieter and still productive DH-type like Jim Thome? Someone whose class and likability would add immeasurably to the Red Sox clubhouse? Someone who would absolutely say something if teammates were behaving in a selfish, disinterested way? Plus Thome’s going to be much, much cheaper than Ortiz.

Ortiz had better be careful.

Terry Francona and Theo Epstein were icons in Boston as well and they’re gone. Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield are on the way out the door. Jonathan Papelbon and Kevin Youkilis could be right behind them.

The more Ortiz talks, the more the Red Sox might add him to the list of people they have to purge from the poisoned clubhouse to begin refurbishing and repairing.

He has few options and definitely won’t make the money he’s made in Boston.

My advice to him would be to shut up and hope the Red Sox forget that he was one of the players who should’ve and could’ve put a stop to the nonsense that went on there in 2011; nonsense that played a large part in sabotaging their season and started this mass exodus and changes that no one saw coming on September 1st.

Ortiz might get caught in the waterfall.

And he won’t be landing in New York.

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Thome Talk Is Sentimentalist Nonsense

All Star Game, Draft, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Hall Of Fame, Management, Media, MiLB, MLB Trade Deadline, MLB Waiver Trades, Players, Playoffs, Prospects, Trade Rumors

Jim Thome would help any team he joins whether it’s the Indians, White Sox, Yankees, Phillies or whichever other team that puts in a waiver claim for him; but for the two teams that have been most prominently associated with him—the Indians and White Sox—it’s an acquisition that’s more about sentiment than reality. For both of those teams, their only hope to make the playoffs this season is if the Tigers totally collapse and either goes on unlikely hot streaks. It would help the Indians and White Sox because it might bring a few extra fans into the park down the stretch, but that’s it.

The Indians have played far above what was predicted for them at the start of the season, leaped into first place and were 15 games over .500 in late May. Since then, they’ve been 15 games under .500. They’re still in contention because of the weakness of the AL Central, but the Tigers have taken command and currently lead by 6 games. The Indians have been aggressive with trades for Kosuke Fukudome and Ubaldo Jimenez; they could use Thome especially with another season-ending injury to Travis Hafner, but if you think that Thome will be the catalyst for a Major League-style Indians run, you’re deluding yourself. It would be a pleasant story for Thome—after hitting his 600th homer as a Twin—to return to his first baseball home in Cleveland where he’s still immensely popular, but that’s all it would be.

With the White Sox, why would anyone suddenly think they’re going to be anything more than the disappointment they’ve been all year long? They got off to a terrible start; have endured an embarrassingly disastrous year from Adam Dunn; have been screamed at, ridiculed and threatened by their manager and general manager, have played well for spurts and settled back into a helpless mediocrity.

The White Sox and Indians have six games each with the Tigers, but are playing each other eight times; the rest of the Tigers schedule is filled with the Athletics, Twins, Royals and Orioles. They’re not blowing it this time.

Thome, at 40, is still a productive player; but he’s been injured and wouldn’t even be playing regularly for the Twins had they not been beset by injuries; he’d be a welcome addition to any team, but he’s not a deciding factor for those that need a lot of help, a lot of luck, a major improvement in play or all three to make the playoffs.

Sentimental moves are generally either meaningless or wind up being mistakes. So enough with the Thome talk because on the field is where it counts and on the field it won’t make much difference one way or the other.

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