MLB Trade Deadline: Questions Surrounding the White Sox Players and the Manager

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Looking at the White Sox, the main thing preventing them from making huge changes at the trading deadline is that, objectively, they don’t have many things that other teams would want. Or at least they don’t have many players that teams are going to give anything worthwhile to get.

Jake Peavy, if he was healthy, would attract interest. He’s not. If Peavy returns from his fractured rib and pitches well, he’ll get through waivers in August due to his $14.5 million contract for 2014, so someone would take him if the White Sox pick up a portion of his contract. It’s unlikely but possible. John Danks is still recovering and finding his groove after shoulder surgery. A potential trade chip, Gavin Floyd, is out for the year with Tommy John surgery. No one’s taking Adam Dunn. Someone would take Alex Rios and they’re going to get an overpay for Jesse Crain. Nothing earth-shattering is coming back for any of these players.

The big question is whether they’ll trade Paul Konerko. They could get something for Konerko, but that opens up another issue: how could they make Konerko the player-manager if they trade him?

No. I’m not kidding.

Ken Williams was willing to do anything when he was the everyday GM and now that he’s been moved up to executive VP of baseball and Rick Hahn has taken over as GM, Hahn will take his cue from Williams and listen to whatever is floated. The problem they have now is that there’s really not much of anything to do to improve their fortunes in the near future. Williams was serious when he said he considered Konerko as player-manager prior to hiring Robin Ventura and Ventura is not going to be the White Sox manager for much longer. It’s not because they’re going to fire him, but because he took the job as a “let’s see if I enjoy this” test endeavor and he certainly didn’t sign up for a team that’s going to lose 95 games in 2013 and has a few years of retooling ahead of them. There was talk earlier this year that Ventura wasn’t planning on managing for very long and he sort of “aw shucksed” it as a brush off without a fervent denial when he turned down the club’s offer of a contract extension. He might enjoy managing, being around the players and the competition, but he doesn’t need it and that attitude can tend to get on the players’ nerves. He’s signed through next year, but I think it’s iffy that he manages in 2014.

If Ventura leaves and with Konerko a free agent at the end of the year, I could easily see them pulling the trigger and making Konerko the manager if he retires or player-manager if he wants to do it. It would distract from the retool/rebuild, give Konerko experience in handling a media circus and managing for when the White Sox are ready to contend again because, by then, he’ll almost definitely be retired. There hasn’t been a player-manager since Pete Rose and it would be a juicy story to watch and distract the masses as to how bad the White Sox promise to be for the next several years as they move on from this group and reload.

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Rethinking the GM, Part II—American League Central

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You can read the basis of these postings and part I here.

Detroit Tigers

Mike Ilitch is the epitome of the “do the right thing” owner with all of his sports franchises. He hires people who are both perceived to know and do know what they’re doing and gives them the resources to be successful. With GM Dave Dombrowski, there’s none of the “look how smart I am” pretense in which he wants to win but more than winning, he wants credit for winning and being the architect of the franchise.

Dombrowski is the classic old-school baseball guy who worked his way up organically and didn’t trick anyone with an array of numbers and catchy business-themed buzzwords. Some owners want to hear that stuff and it’s usually either the ruthless corporate types who have no interest in anyone’s feelings and putting out a product that will be both practically successful and aesthetically likable; or a rich guy who didn’t work for his money and is interested in seeing his name in the papers, but doesn’t have the faintest concept into what running a sports franchise is all about and isn’t able to comprehend that you can’t run a baseball team like a corporation and expect it to work.

Ilitch knows and understands this and lets Dombrowski do his job. Dombrowski has built three different clubs to success with the Expos, Marlins and Tigers and had a hand in the early 1980s White Sox who rose to prominence under manager Tony LaRussa. For those who consider Dombrowski a product of Ilitch’s willingness to spend money and little else, it’s simply not true and is only presented as an excuse because he’s not a stat guy. He knows talent, spends money when necessary, but also has an old-school GM’s aggressiveness going after what he wants when others wouldn’t know what they’re getting as evidenced by his under-the-radar trade for Doug Fister. Most people in baseball barely knew who Fister was at the time the Tigers traded for him and the acquisition exemplified Dombrowski’s thinking and decisionmaking as he refused to take Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik saying “no” for an answer. The prospects Dombrowski gave up to get Fister haven’t done much for the Mariners and Fister is a solid mid-rotation starter at age 29.

Cleveland Indians

The Indians use the transfer of power approach when they name their GM. John Hart passed his job on to Mark Shapiro and Shapiro moved up to the team presidency and Chris Antonetti took over as GM. This is not a situation where the GM is actually running the whole show. Shapiro may have moved up to a more powerful position above the player personnel fray, but he still has significant input in the club’s construction.

In general when there’s a promotion of this kind, it’s done so that the team president doesn’t have to deal with the day-to-day minutiae that the GM has to deal with. I’m talking about press conferences, giving the final nod on the draft, listening to manager/player complaints and other redundant and tiresome exercises that make a GM want to get the promotion (or demotion) in the first place.

The Indians GM job and other front office positions are rarely if ever in jeopardy. It’s understood that there are payroll constraints and Shapiro and company have the freedom to teardown and rebuild as they see fit. This year is different because they hired a pricey name manager in Terry Francona and spent money on players Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Mark Reynolds and make a bold trade in sending Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds. Much of this is rumored to be due to owner Larry Dolan wanting to boost the product and attendance to increase the franchise’s sale value and then sell it.

Chicago White Sox

The White Sox are unique in that owner Jerry Reinsdorf trusts former GM and now Executive V.P. Ken Williams implicitly and lets him do what he wants even if that includes considering making Paul Konerko player/manager prior to hiring an unproven Robin Ventura who had no managerial experienced whatsoever.

Much like the Indians, Williams moved up to a higher executive perch and Rick Hahn took over as the day-to-day GM with Williams maintaining significant influence on the club’s construction. Outsiders rip Williams but he wants to win at the big league level every year and tends to ignore development. If contending is not in the cards, he reacts preemptively and blows it up. Another reason he’s so loathed by the stat person wing is because he scoffs at them with the reality that they haven’t the faintest idea as to what running a club entails, nor does he care about what they say.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins are insular and won’t bring in a new GM from the outside who’s going to want to clear out the house of former employees, marginalize longtime implementer of the “Twins way” Tom Kelly, and fire manager Ron Gardenhire. With that in mind, when they demoted Bill Smith from the GM position, they reached into the past for the GM of the club during their annual trips to the post-season, Terry Ryan.

The Twins have a packed farm system and should be back contending in the next couple of years. Ryan is decidedly old-school, has a background in scouting and worked his way up like Dombrowski. He’s willing to listen and discuss his philosophy with the stat people at their conventions, but will continue to be a scouting and “feel” GM as he looks for players that fit into what he, Kelly and Gardenhire prefer rather than someone whose OPS jumps off the page but might not behave in the manner the Twins want their players to.

The Twins ownership is one of the wealthiest in sports but there’s a tradeoff with their manner of ownership: they don’t interfere with the baseball people, but they don’t give them any more money than is within the budget. They treat it like a business. There are probably more benefits to that than negatives since they’re willing to have a $100+ million payroll and aren’t asking Ryan to complete the very difficult task of winning with $60 million or less.

Kansas City Royals

What’s funny about Dayton Moore becoming a punching bag for the Royals horrific backwards streak in which they went from 17-10 to 22-30 is that none of his more vicious critics was saying much of anything when the team was playing well and it looked like Moore’s decision to trade a package led by Wil Myers to the Rays for a package led by James Shields was going to yield the desired result.

Moore learned as an assistant to John Schuerholz and played a significant role in the Braves having a fertile farm system through the 1990s and early 2000s, but might not be cut out to be a fulltime GM. He’s good at building a farm system and has trouble sprinkling in necessary ingredients to supplement the youngsters on the big league roster.

When Moore was making the rounds as a GM candidate, he almost seemed to be reluctant to take the job. He interviewed with the Red Sox in 2002 and withdrew from consideration after the first interview. He then took the Royals job at mid-season 2006. Perhaps he knew something that those who touted him as a GM candidate didn’t; maybe he was happy as an assistant and didn’t want the scrutiny that comes from being a GM and took it because he was expected to move up to the next level as a GM.

Whatever it was, I think of other GMs and former GMs who had certain attributes to do the job but weren’t cut out to be the guy at the top of the food chain because of the missing—and important—other aspects. Omar Minaya was like that. Minaya is a great judge of talent, can charm the reporters and fans, has a fantastic rapport with the Latin players and can be a convincing salesman. When he was introducing his new free agent signing or acquisition in a big trade, he was great with a big smile and nice suit as a handsome representative for the team. But when there was dirty work to be done like firing his manager, firing an assistant, or answering reporters’ questions regarding a controversy, his shakiness with the English language and propensity to be too nice came to the forefront and he couldn’t do the job effectively.

There’s nothing wrong with being a great assistant when the alternative is being a mediocre-to-bad GM and winding up right back where he or she started from.

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Captainship in Baseball

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The Yankees name Derek Jeter captain and it’s part of their “rich tapestry of history.” The Mets do it with David Wright and it’s foundation for ridicule. Neither is accurate. What has to be asked about baseball and captaincies is whether there’s any value in it on the field or if it’s shtick.

The three current captains in baseball are Wright, Jeter and Paul Konerko of the White Sox. In the past, teams have had captains but the most prominent in recent memory have been Jason Varitek of the Red Sox and Jeter. The Mets named John Franco the captain of the team in May of 2001 and he had a “C” stitched to his jersey like he was leading the New York Rangers on the ice for a game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Varitek was named captain of the Red Sox after his somewhat contentious free agency foray following the Red Sox World Series win in 2004. The Red Sox couldn’t let Varitek leave a week after losing Pedro Martinez to the Mets, but they didn’t want to give him the no-trade clause that Varitek had said was a deal-breaker. Varitek’s pride was at stake and the unsaid compromise they made was to give Varitek the captaincy and no no-trade clause. Whether or not Varitek was savvy enough to catch onto the trick is unknown. It reminded me of an old episode of Cheers when—ironically—the fictional former Red Sox reliever Sam Malone and two other workers walked into the boss’s office seeking a raise and were met with a surprising agreeability and open checkbook as long as they didn’t ask for a title. They got the titles and not the raises.

Is the captaincy worth the attention? Will Wright do anything differently now that he’s officially the captain of the Mets—something that had been apparent for years? Probably not.

The Mets have had three prior captains. Keith Hernandez was named captain, similarly to Jeter, while he was the acknowledged leader and the team was in the midst of a slump in 1987 with management trying to fire up the troops and fans. An insulted Gary Carter was named co-captain in 1988 as a placating gesture. Then there was Franco. If the captain had any legitimate on-field value than for its novelty and “coolness” (Turk Wendell wanted the “C” in Franco’s jersey for that reason), a closer couldn’t be an effective captain and then-Mets manager Bobby Valentine certainly would not have named Franco his captain considering the difficult relationship between the two. Valentine’s reaction was probably an eye-roll and, “Yeah, whatever. Make him captain. As if it means anything.” Franco never got over Valentine taking the closer job away and giving it to Armando Benitez while Franco was hurt in 1999 and he got his revenge when, due to his close relationship with the Wilpons, he helped cement the decision to fire Valentine after the 2002 season. Franco could be divisive, selfish and vindictive when he wanted to be.

While the Yankees exhibit a smug superiority as to the “value” of their captains, there’s a perception—probably due to silent implication that the truth doesn’t feed the narrative of Yankees “specialness”—that the three “real” captains of the Yankees in their history have been Lou Gehrig, Thurman Munson and Jeter. But did you know that Graig Nettles was a Yankees captain and thought so little of the “honor” that he angered George Steinbrenner by saying, in his typical caustic realism:

“Really, all I do as captain is take the lineups up to home plate before the game.” (Balls by Graig Nettles and Peter Golenbock, page 20, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1984)

Of course Steinbrenner had a fit:

“The captain is supposed to show some leadership out there. That’s why he’s captain. To show leadership.” (Balls, page 21)

Nettles, the “captain” and so important to team success because of his leadership was traded to the Padres in the spring of 1984 after signing a contract to remain with the Yankees as a free agent after the 1983 season in large part because of that book.

Before Gehrig, the Yankees captain had been Hal Chase. Chase was a notorious gambler and repeatedly accused of throwing games. The Yankees would prefer Chase’s name not be affiliated with them in their current incarnation. Chase wasn’t a “Yankee,” he was a “Highlander.” Two different things I suppose.

After Nettles, the Yankees named Ron Guidry and Willie Randolph co-captains and then Don Mattingly as captain. The team didn’t win in those years and the captaincy didn’t help or hurt them toward that end. The teams weren’t very good, so they didn’t win.

The Yankees made a big show of the captaincy because Steinbrenner liked it. He thought it was important in a similar fashion to his rah-rah football speeches and constant haranguing of his field personnel with firings and entreaties to “do something” even when there was little that could be done.

Depending on who is named captain, it can matter in a negative sense if the individual walks around trying to lead and gets on the nerves of others. For example, if Curt Schilling was named a captain, he’d walk around with a beatific look on his face, altered body language and manner and make sure to do some “captaining,” whatever that is. But with Wright, nothing will change, and like Jeter and Konerko, it won’t matter much. It’s not going to affect the teams one way or the other whether the captain is in a Yankees uniform and has become part of their “storied history,” of if it’s the Mets and the world-at-large is waiting for the inevitable cheesiness that is a Mets trademark. It’s an honor and it’s nice for the fans, but that’s pretty much it.

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Are The White Sox For Real?

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The White Sox are 27-22, have won 6 straight, are ½ game out of first place and are one of the bigger surprises in baseball. They made wholesale changes this past winter and hired a neophyte manager, Robin Ventura. They put forth the pretense of a rebuilding project when they dealt away Carlos Quentin and Sergio Santos and it didn’t appear that the White Sox were expecting to contend in 2012. GM Ken Williams vacillated on his statements implying that he was clearing out the house. He kept veteran A.J. Pierzynski; signed lefty John Danks to a contract extension after fielding trade offers for him; and resisted inquiries on Gavin Floyd.

They didn’t define what they were doing in the off-season and as a result, we don’t know what they are in-season.

Are they a .500 team? Are they a contender? Are they “open for business” either way as Williams said last Fall?

I don’t think they know. I think they’re waiting to see where they are by July before committing one way or the other.

Jake Peavy is having a brilliant comeback season after an injury-ravaged tenure as a White Sox. He has a contract option for 2013 at $22 million with a $4 million buyout. The White Sox could opt to keep him for 2013, trade him at the deadline or in the winter or simply decline the option.

Adam Dunn has reverted into being Adam Dunn with home runs, walks and strikeouts after a rough transition and profoundly bad luck in 2011.

Their defense has been surprisingly good following years of neglect by the front office.

They might be better than predicted.

But contenders?

That’s still up in the air.

Is Paul Konerko going to hit .380? To have an on base percentage of nearly .470? Konerko’s a fine hitter and leader and is making a strong Hall of Fame case with his late-career production, but he’ll be back down to a .295/.370/.520 slash line with 30-35 homers by the time the season’s over. That won’t make up for the dead spots in the lineup they’re carrying at second and third base.

It comes down to what’s real. Is this (.224/.282/.364 with 5 homers) the real Gordon Beckham or is he the hitter he was as a rookie in 2009 when he was a budding star? Given that he’s been rapidly declining since 2010, I’d say this is it.

Will Peavy keep up his work? Will Pierzynski spend the whole season batting above .300? Can Chris Sale maintain his stamina and excellence that resulted in 15 strikeouts last night after being a reliever in his first two big league seasons? What will Danks contribute when he returns from a shoulder injury?

They’re on their second closer in Addison Reed after Hector Santiago flunked out of the role. There were even a brief several days when it was said that Sale was moving back to the bullpen.

We don’t know what they are. They don’t know what they are.

There are teams like the Yankees and Angels for whom we can study history and the backs of the bubblegum cards and reasonably extrapolate that for their name players, the struggles and successes of the present won’t continue into the future. Then there are teams like the White Sox for whom the current results are unsustainable.

Williams is always aggressive, but whether he’s aggressive to add or subtract will depend on how his team is playing at that moment. They’re not particularly good, but they’re not particularly bad either. It’s the undefined teams that have to come to that determination regardless of fan/media demands. It’s not as simple as it looks. Williams is fond of making bold moves that generally ignoring conventional wisdom. In the case of the 2012 White Sox, the bold move might be to stand pat. They don’t have many prospects to deal and the veteran players they’d like to dump could help them more as White Sox than they would as trade bait.

It’s not easy, but it’s smarter to stay where they are and hope they maintain their unlikely spurt into contention.

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Chris Carpenter’s Contract And Albert Pujols

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It’s a positive sign for the Cardinals that they’ve chosen to keep Chris Carpenter by agreeing to a contract extension through 2013. The contract eliminates the $15 million option and the $1 million buyout for 2012 by paying him $21 million over two seasons. This decision and that they’re going to exercise the 2012 option for Adam Wainwright means that their starting rotation will be formidable for 2012 with Carpenter, Jake Westbrook, Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse and Wainwright.

Scott Boras represents Edwin Jackson, so you can forget about the Cardinals keeping him as they need to come to contract agreements with Albert Pujols and/or Lance Berkman.

This is also a precursor to Tony LaRussa remaining as manager. LaRussa has a mutual option with the Cardinals and it’s simply easier for him to stay with the club than to look for another job and start all over again even if it was an agreeable location with a neat story like going back to the White Sox.

What does this mean for Pujols?

Don’t automatically think the Cardinals are going to go insane to keep their star player, but he won’t leave. You can forget about the $200 million that was floating around as what Pujols wants. It’s notable that this “demand” came from voices other than Pujols himself. He’s not getting that from the Cardinals; he’s not getting that from anyone.

What hurts him on the open market are the other available first basemen Prince Fielder and Berkman and possibly Paul Konerko via trade. It works in the Cardinals favor that Pujols doesn’t want to leave St. Louis and they don’t want him to leave; because he’s so entrenched with the club and in the community and he never hired Boras as his agent, he’s not going to demand an Alex Rodriguez-style contract to be the alpha-male of baseball with the contract to prove it.

Pujols is this era’s Joe DiMaggio; he’s proud but not greedy just for the sake of it; nor is he going to look to extract every last penny from the Cardinals by means of extortion, emotional and market-driven.

That doesn’t mean he’s going to take short money or an offer that would be perceived as insulting for a player of his stature; under no circumstances should Pujols be expected to take substantially less money than inferior players like Ryan Howard, but with the Cardinals taking steps to get their financial house in order by extending Carpenter and exercising Wainwright’s option, they’re keeping the longtime core together to make it reasonable for Pujols to take less money than he would be entitled to in comparison to that which A-Rod received.

They could let Pujols leave if things get out of hand; Pujols could seek a larger offer elsewhere, but like Derek Jeter and the Yankees last year, the rest of baseball knows the reality with Pujols and the Cardinals and won’t bother making a competitive offer.

Part of the reason he’s going to stay is the alteration of Carpenter’s contract; part of the reason is the doesn’t want to leave; and part is that the Cardinals won’t let him leave.

The Carpenter contract extension is another piece to that puzzle.

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Sunday Blizzard 12.26.2010

Hot Stove

Admittedly, while he was alive and regularly jabbing his finger into the faces of today’s athletes, scolding them for their selfishness and behaviors, I often dismissed Bob Feller as a miserable old man who was: A) jealous of the money today’s players make; and B) held a death grip on antiquated Mid-American concepts that had no basis in reality.

Following his death, many of the eulogies and tributes extended towards him glossed over his short temper and overt lack of patience that expanded as he aged; as society grew more and more callous and disinterested.

After reading one such eulogy in The Weekly Standard, I’ve come to something of an epiphany regarding Feller’s core beliefs and why he was so irritable.

He had reason to be.

The on-line content is subscriber-only, but here’s the relevant excerpt:

And for all Feller accomplished—he was an eight-time all-star who led the Tribe to a World Series victory in 1948 and was named to the Hall of Fame in 1962, his first year of eligibility—he might have put up even better numbers, were it not for the war. But then, the same might be said of all of that era’s great stars.

As David G. Dalin wrote in our November 1 issue, Hank Greenberg enlisted at the age of 30, when he was officially exempt from military duty, to fight the Nazis. “My country comes first,” said Greenberg. Feller, who joined the Navy just after Pearl Harbor, felt the same. “I’ve never once thought about all the prime years that I missed,” Feller said later. “I’m as proud of serving as anything I’ve ever done in my life.”

We admire as much as anyone today’s professional athletes, young men whose athletic skill and daring cannot but entertain and amaze us, but in the end their image is not well served by the rhetorical excess, often their own, of referring to their place of well-paid work—the gridiron, diamond, court, or rink—as the -“trenches.” Greenberg and Feller knew the difference. So did Ted Williams, who flew combat missions as a Marine pilot; same with Braves lefthander Warren Spahn, who saw action at the Battle of the Bulge.

This week, America lost (…) a right-handed pitcher, Chief Petty Officer Bob Feller, U.S. Navy (ret.).

Think about this.

And think about today’s athletes, many of whom profess a love of country that rivals those of a years past.

Would any of them—-one—-walk away from his prime years as an athlete to serve his country and place himself in harm’s way?

Every time Curt Schilling rants for one of his conservative causes, can you picture him actually taking up arms and entering into the fray to fight and risk his life? He with his faux presidential and poorly written missives concluding with, “God bless you; and God bless the United…States…of America” and ill-informed falling in line with whatever the line happens to be at the moment?

Is pitching with a bloody sock the badge of a “hero”? Or is is it something more?

For all the admiration doled on Derek Jeter (poor Derek will only have to live on $15 million in 2011), would he behave so selflessly? As selflessly as the players from the 1940s did when, presumably, many of them had the connections to get out of service if they chose to do so? Or, at the very least, could’ve been shielded in safety on a base somewhere, out of the legitimate combat theater?

Cliff Lee took “less” money from the Phillies to go where he wanted to go and received nods of approval through pursed lips as if it makes a grand difference whether he makes $125 million, $150 million or whatever amount million he’s guaranteed.

Has any current player voluntarily walked away from his contract and lush lifestyle to take part in the effort?

The only athlete who has done so since the country’s been in conflict is the late football player Pat Tillman. Apart from that, today’s players scarcely know what’s even happening overseas; that there’s still a war going on; that people are being killed in service to the country.

I’m not sitting here saying I’d do it either, but the entire cultural shift that angered the likes of Feller and others who sound grumpy and envious may not be envy; it may not be anger; it may be disgust. Disgust at the rampant disinterest in the way they got into a position to make that money in the first place.

You can agree or disagree with the wars that are currently being waged, but politics aren’t why there’s no reports of a wealthy athlete walking away from it all to join the military and it has nothing to do with principles of protest; it has to do with the self-interest and lack of concern about the community at large that weren’t considered back in Feller’s day. They served because they felt it was their duty to serve. That they cost themselves money and statistics when they could conceivably have been padding their bank accounts and numbers was irrelevant.

Their own accumulations held no sway back then. Does any player today feel a similar duty?

Judging from their actions, it doesn’t appear so.

And things are going to get far, far worse as time passes and the separation of community grows more and more vast; as the athletes make more and more money and become separated from society because of such money, fame and status.

  • It sure sounds like there are hard feelings:

I wish someone would come out and say, “Yeah, I’m mad!!!” when they’re trying to express themselves in a way that’s unoffensive and it’s known that they’re not saying everything they’d like to say.

Former Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland was a guest on ESPN Radio talking about his new job as a special assistant with the Tampa Bay Rays and his dismissal from the Yankees.

You can read Wallace Matthews’s column about Eiland and listen to the podcast here.

No one in their right mind could expect a former employee not named Gary Sheffield to detonate a bridge that he might need later in his career, but obviously Eiland was irked by what happened.

Apart from a rumor here and there, the details of his monthlong leave-of-absence at mid-season have never been disclosed; I said at the time that if I knew what really happened, I might’ve fired Eiland as well. If it’s something that would be negatively perceived in Eiland’s attempts to get another job or for him to be embarrassed in public, then the Yankees did him a favor by keeping it quiet; and Eiland hasn’t helped his own cause by refusing to expand on what happened.

Truthfully, it’s the business of Eiland, the Yankees and his prospective employers as to what happened—-nobody else’s; one would assume the Rays know what the deal with Eiland and the Yankees was; why he left at mid-summer; why he was dismissed.

But if I were Dave Eiland, I’d keep my mouth shut. The allusions to his “shock” at being fired; the inference that there’s more to the story than is being revealed; that he has a lot to say and is saying it cryptically can only hurt him in the long run.

If I were advising him, I’d drill these words into his head: “I really don’t want to talk about what happened with the Yankees; I work for the Rays now and I thank the Yankees for the opportunity and the championship ring.”

That’s it. The more he says, the more people are going to ask; and if he gets someone with a temper and faulty mouth filter (see Levine, Randy; see Steinbrenner, Hank) angry, dirty laundry might be aired; laundry that’s been carefully pushed down into the bottom of the hamper.

Keeping quiet is the best course of action—-whether Eiland will adhere to that is the question; judging from his interview last week, he’s not holding to it.

It’s a mistake.

  • Viewer Mail 12.26.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE the Yankees and Jorge Posada:

I don’t think Posada will be happy about being the DH either, but I do think the Yankees will pull off some sort of trade for a pitcher. Wishful thinking maybe but Cashman has to do something.

The only reason Posada might—-might—-keep quiet is his impending free agency. A whining 40-year-old with Posada’s rep for being difficult might have a hard time getting another lucrative contract.

You’re right about getting a pitcher—-he’ll get one because he has to get one, but it’s possible that it won’t be until June/July.

———

Joe writes RE Joaquin Benoit and Paul Konerko:

Why don’t you expound on the Konerko and Benoit signings? They might be winners for a year, but both of those contracts will most likely bite them. 3 years for an injury prone reliever.  And 3 years for a mid-30’s 1B with only the ability to hit.

I’m not prepared to say that Konerko will “bite” them over the long term. His hitting and durability has been consistent for the most part; defense at first base isn’t as much an imperative as it would be in center field, catcher or middle infield; the White Sox don’t concern themselves with defense all that much anyway.

He’ll hit for the life of the contract—-that’s what White Sox GM Kenny Williams is worried about.

With Benoit, you’re missing the point. Of course the money and contract are horrible, but the posting was in reference to 2011 and what the club needed; the Tigers needed bullpen help, had the money to pay for it and spent it on a pitcher who was masterful in 2010.

The Benoit deal is likely to bite the Tigers, but if he’s healthy in 2011, Benoit will help them contend. As long as it doesn’t block anyone else’s path nor prevent them from making other moves, what’s the difference?

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Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE the Nationals:

I can add this to the Nat’inals talk: that ballpark is badass. I’ve been there several times and had a blast each time. The park is beautiful, easily accessible and extremely fan friendly.  One problem in DC though is the fact that it’s such a transient city… there aren’t many Nationals fans — instead, they’re mostly fans of other clubs that have been relocated to the DC Metro area. From what I have seen, the largest contention of Nats fans seems to be Latino immigrants, who, ironically, will be priced out of watching their favorite team, now that they’re doling out crazy assed salaries.

This phenomenon—-the absence of legitimate, passionate Nats fans—-was exemplified by my being linked on the Nationals fan forum in which there was little of use said; nothing to promote a discussion on the subject.

They made fun of a typo, attributed to me, but not made by me and claimed the posting was “poop” among other things without a viable retort to my allegations.

I’m willing to talk to anyone and will even alter my feelings if presented with a cogent argument; none seems forthcoming.

If that’s what they’ve got in terms of refutation, the Nats fans who bother to pay attention deserve their fate.

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Matt at Diamondhacks writes RE me and the Diamondbacks:

If a club ever deserved “and the rest” status, it’s probably my Dbacks. I look forward to what you have to say about their makeover. Love the masthead, btw.

Happy holidays.

It’s always nice to hear from a fellow survivor from the calamity of MLBlogs. The society which has sprouted from the disaster is something of a logical conclusion considering the way the entity is run; we were lucky to get away when we did; others are still slogging away.

With the Diamondbacks, as I said yesterday, you’re seeing the Kevin Towers-style of management up close and personally; it won’t take long before the bewilderment pops up and those that were steadfastly on his bandwagon go leaping off at his strange maneuvers that, at the very least, equaled the brilliant ones he made with the Padres.

For those of you unaware of Matt’s blog, if you think I’m a loose cannon, check him out. It’s a wild ride.

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PhillyPhanatics writes RE the Nationals:

Paul – As a guy who has watched Werth closely during his tenure in Philadelphia, I agree that this was a pretty ridiculous contract for a guy who is a complementary player being asked to be a core player.  Still, to not mention  Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann or #1 pick wunderkind Bryce Harper while excoriating the Nats for a guy who they don’t even own anymore tells me you have a lot of homework to do.  Willingham is arbitration-eligible and would have been a lame duck on a market-value one-year deal.  No, the Nats have no shot in 2011, and with Strasburg also out rehabbing, any guys on a one-year deal are absolutely trade fodder.  I don’t know if this will all pan out, but the Nats remind me a bit of the Rays with their multiple #1 overall picks.  The core players are where it’s at.  Which makes the Werth signing look like a knee-jerk reaction to losing Adam Dunn and based on fear of losing the gains they made in attracting fans of late, more so than a wise on-field move.

What homework did I have to do?

The problem implied with the Nationals signing of Werth; chasing Carl Pavano; looking at Brandon Webb; making a big offer to Cliff Lee and combining the moves they made last year are exactly the issues I’m talking about.

What are they?

Are they trying to win now? Trying to build a better reputation within baseball by making improvements to the current product even if they’re not going to wind up contending? Importing competent veterans to teach the young players to comport themselves?

Which is it?

They’ve had Willingham on the market pretty much since they got him; they benched him for reasons unknown, then when they let him play, guess what he did? He did what he always does—-hit for power, was a professional hitter who showed up every day ready to go.

If they were so concerned about his “lame duck” status, why didn’t they trade him in July of this year? This is the problem—-they traded Willingham for prospects while signing Werth to try and get better now.

You cannot do both. When Harper is ready; when Strasburg is back and has the constraints removed (probably by 2013 for that combination to take place); when they know what they have in Jordan Zimmerman and the other pitchers, Werth’s deal will be more easily judged and he’ll be 34-years-old.

Ryan Zimmerman is a superstar; I like Desmond, especially defensively; they’ve cleared the clubhouse of troublemakers, but they’re not any better now than they were before the 2010 season; in fact, they’re worse.

You can’t compare the Nats to the Rays. The Rays had a plan and a stack of young players who were developing and on the way up. They made some brilliant trades in getting Ben Zobrist, Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett; they were notoriously lucky with Carlos Pena and Gabe Gross; and they didn’t make stupid decisions like dumping a Willingham for the “future” while spending ridiculously on a good player like Werth who, as you said, is complementary.

The Nationals have shown no sign of the intelligence and guts the Rays exhibited in building their playoff teams and are now as they clear out players from whom they’ve gotten everything they could and are reloading.

The Rays had a plan. Do the Nats? I don’t see it.