Leyland’s “Principled” Charade

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It’s best to take what a manager says in January and pretty much ignore it. Because of that, when Jim Leyland insists that Miguel Cabrera is going to move to third base—his tone signifying no ifs ands or buts—you should nod politely and expect it to be proved as “baseball”.

That’s not a lie.

It’s “baseball”.

Jim Bouton wrote in Ball Four of the episode in which teammate Mike Marshall received two different stories regarding his demotion to the minors from the manager and GM—both of them nonsense. Bouton explained Marshall’s view of this in the following line:

Now, some people would call that a contradiction. Others might call it a lie. Mike Marshall called it baseball.

Is Leyland “lying” or is he giving Cabrera time to get used to the idea of sharing first base and DHing before he has to report to spring training? Will he give the player a chance to lose a few pounds and have a look at him at the position in March before bowing to the inevitable reality and figuring something else out?

Initially, I felt that was the case, but Leyland is insisting that Cabrera’s going to play third.

Anyone questioning him on this decision will be subject to Leyland’s cigarette-ravaged voice in an extended, “I’m a baseball guy and you’re a dumb writer” tirade. With Leyland being so adamant that Cabrera’s going to third base, Tigers fans should be concerned that Leyland’s going to ignore his eyes and the entreaties of his pitchers and put Cabrera at third base for the sake of being contrary.

That’s not managing. That’s being arrogant and difficult for no reason other than ego and it’s going to hurt the team if he follows through on it.

I still don’t think Leyland will do it, but when listening to the rhetoric and considering the involvement of his “principles” of saying something and sticking to it, I’m not so sure.

But principles are floating just like Marshall’s interpretation of lies.

It’s not going back on them to accept that Cabrera can’t play third and to react accordingly.

It’s baseball.

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The Phillies And Ryan Madson—Leaks And Lies And Baseball

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Much like the Keith Law-Michael Lewis dustup over Law’s negative review of Moneyball (which was somewhat embarrassing for both parties, but was absolutely and completely hysterical), someone in the Phillies-Ryan Madson contract negotiations and reporting is lying.

First, Jon Heyman and Jim Duquette said on Twitter that the Phillies and Ryan Madson had agreed to a 4-year, $44 million contract with a $13 million.

Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports said the same thing.

Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com said the Madson camp told him there was no agreement yet and talks were ongoing.

It sounded done. And stupid.

But wait!! All contracts have to go to ownership for approval. But given the series of maniacally overpriced contracts that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has given to players like Ryan Howard along with spending big on Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and with Jimmy Rollins a free agent, team president David Montgomery didn’t sign off on what Amaro wanted to do.

Now the Madson agreement might be on the verge of collapse with Jonathan Papelbon a possibility for the Phillies.

If you believe the rumors (and I don’t) Madson could be a target for the Nationals, Rangers or Red Sox.

Madson’s been a closer for one year and that wasn’t even full-time; paying him on a level with a proven short reliever like Papelbon, Heath Bell or Francisco Rodriguez (remember him?) is idiotic.

Jayson Stark said on Twitter that Amaro called the rumors unequivocally false and that there was no agreement.

Lots of stories.

Is someone lying? Or is what most normal people would consider lying in real life—intellectually and otherwise— “just baseball” as Mike Marshall said in Ball Four?

The following is what I suspect based on my own analysis of baseball and human nature.

Ready?

Here we go:

Amaro and Boras had the parameters in place for a deal with the reported dollar figures; Boras leaked it to friendly reporters in an act of quid pro quo—they exchange information for mutual benefit; the reporters reported it and people believed it was true because it was true; all that remained was for Amaro to get approval from Montgomery—an approval that had been fait accompli in prior negotiations; but the public reaction to the contract for Madson was widespread and negative; Montgomery hesitated, understanding the ramifications of being the first team to sign a closer (who is only a semi-closer for part of a season) and spending that amount of money when the Phillies have upcoming layouts to Rollins, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and Hunter Pence; he nixed the it and wondered whether that same money or slightly more could get a better and more proven reliever in Papelbon; this left Amaro in a bad position because if the deal was done and the club president turned it down, Amaro looks impotent and powerless in the organization and, worse, to his peers, media and public; and with the criticism levied as the details initially leaked, the Phillies are going to look even dumber if they still give it to him and he pitches poorly; in a face-saving maneuver, Amaro played semantics and told Stark that there was no deal—which is technically true because he needed Montgomery’s okay; and Montgomery didn’t okay it.

At this point, I highly doubt that Madson will receive that same $44 million from the Phillies and I’m sure that Boras is really, really angry.

I think Papelbon is going to wind up with the Phillies and they’ll be better because of it.

I’m not getting this from anywhere other than my own understanding of people and baseball.

You’re better off listening to me because there’s no agenda; nor is there a trade-off in play.

You know what you’re getting here, for better or worse.

Do you know with the “insiders”?

I think we both know the answer to that question.

If you’re smart, you do know what you’re getting from those with a vested interest in the proceedings and that you shouldn’t believe it because it may be twisted or false—presented as such for their own purposes.

And you’re their target.

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