Rafael Soriano to the Nationals—Conspiracy Theories and Truth

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Rafael Soriano has agreed to a 2-year, $28 million contract with the Washington Nationals. There is significant deferred money and a third year option that automatically kicks in based on games finished in 2013-2014. You can read about the details here.

Let’s look at the ramifications, theories and reality of the Soriano signing.

Did Scott Boras hoodwink the Nats again?

Boras represents both Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper—both of whose contracts will eventually be an issue for the Nationals—along with Jayson Werth, Danny Espinosa and Anthony Rendon. Accompanying that, there’s the concept that he’s using the same Svengali-like sway he has on his clients to hypnotize Nationals’ owner Ted Lerner into overpaying for a player he doesn’t need.

Boras’s ability to convince Lerner that this (Werth, Soriano, the Strasburg shutdown) is what the club needs to be successful certainly helped, but Boras is a businessman whose clients are his main motivating factor and if the Dodgers, Yankees or whomever had presented a better deal for Soriano, he would have taken it. Boras didn’t make any promises to package his players and make Harper, Strasburg or anyone else more signable for the Nats because, apart from probably being both illegal and against MLB rules, he’s not going to cost one player to serve another one. Sure, he’ll plan and steer clients to certain destinations that will pay that player the most money and simultaneously open up a spot in the prior location for another client, but that’s different from overtly saying, “Sign Soriano and I’ll make it worth your while with Strasburg and Harper later.”

It didn’t happen.

For Rafael Soriano

Boras’s intent was to get Soriano a 4-year, $60 million deal. If Soriano reaches his incentives for games finished (and barring injury or poor performance, he will), the deal will be $42 million for three years. That’s not $60 million over four, but given the market and the draft pick compensation that was attached to Soriano serving to scare away suitors who were unable or unwilling to swing the dowry, it’s a great deal for the pitcher.

The planets aligned perfectly for Soriano in 2012. He was an afterthought as the seventh inning man for the Yankees but the following happened:

  • Mariano Rivera’s knee injury
  • David Robertson’s brief foray as the Yankees’ closer left him with a look on his face like a victim of the creepy kid from The Ring
  • Soriano took over as Yankees’ closer and pitched brilliantly
  • He had the opt out in his contract

All of these factors secured more money and a guaranteed closer’s role for Soriano and it’s with a team on the short list to win the World Series—something that as of now cannot be said about the Yankees. Had he returned to the Yankees, his role would have been either the eighth or back to the seventh inning. His numbers and financial opportunities would’ve suffered for it in his next chance at free agency and his age would affect his marketability as well.

He had his chance to get paid and, wisely, he took it.

For the Nationals

Is Soriano something of an overkill? Yes, if—and it’s a big if—Drew Storen’s elbow is healthy and, more importantly, his head isn’t still muddled by his disastrous game 5 meltdown in the NLDS loss to the Cardinals in which he blew a 2-run lead with two outs in the ninth inning. He wound up surrendering 4 runs as the Cardinals won the game and the series.

Presumably, his elbow isn’t the problem. His head might be.

Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson saw firsthand what can happen to a pitcher who blows a game like that when he was managing the Mets and they rallied against Red Sox closer Calvin Schiraldi in 1986 in both games 6 and 7 of the World Series and Schiraldi’s career as a significant contributor was essentially done after that. Johnson likes to have a deep bullpen, but he also likes to have a closer he knows isn’t going to panic in a big game. He had that with the Mets and Roger McDowell, Jesse Orosco and Randy Myers; he had it with the Reds with Jeff Brantley; and with the Orioles with Myers again. There might have been that underlying fear with Storen that he wouldn’t recover.

Soriano’s not exactly trustworthy in the playoffs either, but he did replace Rivera and do the job in New York, doubly-massive pressure situations.

The argument could be made that the Nationals, if they no longer trusted Storen, could simply have switched roles between him and Tyler Clippard permanently. Clippard closed in Storen’s absence and even after Storen returned last season, so he can do it. But when Rivera got hurt and the Yankees stuck Robertson in the closer’s role adhering to a misplaced rule of succession, it was a mistake. Robertson, like Clippard, did the heavy lifting in the seventh and eighth innings as the set-up man. It won’t be a glorious role until there’s a catchier and more definable stat than a “hold,” and until these pitchers are paid commensurately for the job they’re doing, but it’s sometimes more important to have a good set-up man than the closer, whose job is to accumulate saves and whose main attribute is to handle the job mentally. Clippard can close, but he’s more valuable setting up.

Historically, Johnson has also liked using more than one closer, so it’s possible Storen might get a few save opportunities. With Soriano’s mentality, though, that too would be a mistake. As the “established closer paid to get the saves,” Soriano doesn’t want to hear statistical reasons as to why he’s not pitching the ninth inning in a save situation. He wants the ball and he wants the saves. If anyone else is used in the ninth inning when Soriano is healthy, feeling good and available, he’ll see that as a threat, making it a potential long-term issue.

Johnson will use Soriano to close. Period. It’s not because he doesn’t want to think for himself or do something against new conventional orthodoxy, but because it’s easier for him and the team to do it that way.

The draft pick and the money

According to Forbes, as of September 2012, Ted Lerner was worth $3.9 billion. He’s 87-years-old. Could the player the Nationals would draft at 31 in the 1st round make a difference to them in Lerner’s lifetime? Possibly. Is it likely that the player will be more useful than Soriano? No.

Maybe they’re going to package Storen with Mike Morse in a trade to get another starting pitcher and a lefty specialist; maybe they’ll use them to bolster the farm system with better prospects than they would have gotten in the 2013 first round. If that’s the case, then they’ve benefited themselves in multiple ways.

The Nationals aren’t building. They’re built. Any player they drafted at number 31 isn’t going to be a significant contributor to this current group unless they draft what they just signed—a short reliever. And the likelihood of a college draftee closer showing up and taking over as the Nationals’ closer and anchoring a championship team in 2013-2014 is almost non-existent. The number of college closers that have been drafted as closers and made it to the big leagues quickly to contribute significantly starts with Gregg Olson and ends with Chad Cordero. It’s more probable that they’d end up with a Jaime Bluma—a great closing arm that never made it.

They have the money and the draft pick was negligible. They’re a better team today with Soriano than they were yesterday without him and the 31st pick in the draft. The Nationals are trying to win right now and, considering what was available, Soriano helps them to do that better than the other options. There were no conspiracies nor was it buying for its own sake. They wanted to improve immediately and that’s what they did.


2012 MLB Award Winners—National League Manager of the Year

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Awards time is coming up fast in MLB. Yesterday I wrote why Bob Melvin should win the Manager of the Year award on the American League. Last month, I listed my Cy Young Award picks. Now, let’s look at the National League Manager of the Year along with who I picked before the season and who I think is going to win as opposed to who should win.

1. Davey Johnson, Washington Nationals

Johnson retuned to the dugout at mid-season 2011 at age 68 replacing Jim Riggleman and taking over a team that had been rebuilt from top-to-bottom and was on the cusp of taking the leap into contention. 2012 was supposed to be a step forward with a chance at making the playoffs if everything broke right. It turned out that everything broke right and then some.

Johnson straddled the line of development and winning; of protecting and letting fly and the Nationals won 98 games and the NL East title.

In his long managerial career, Johnson’s confidence has never been lacking. He’ll tell you his team’s going to win and tell you that it will be, in part, because they have Davey Johnson as their manager. He dealt with the rules and was onboard—reluctantly I think—with the limits placed on Stephen Strasburg. He didn’t hinder Bryce Harper learning how to play and behave in the big leagues and, for the most part, the 19-year-old exceeded expectations especially considering the reputation he carted with him from the minors as a loudmouthed brat.

The veterans have loved Johnson in all of his managerial stops because he lets them be themselves and doesn’t saddle them with a lot of rules and regulations. He doesn’t care about the length of their hair or that their uniforms are all identical as if they’re in the military. He treats them like men and they responded by getting him back to the playoffs.

2. Dusty Baker, Cincinnati Reds

The criticism Baker receives from the stat-obsessed is bordering on fanatical and doled out just for its own sake. He does and says some strange things sometimes, but so does every manager in baseball. He lost his closer Ryan Madson in spring training and replaced him with the unproven Aroldis Chapman and manipulated the bullpen well. The starting pitching was solid from top-to-bottom and remarkably healthy. The lineup lost star Joey Votto for a chunk of the season, but got through it and won the NL Central in a walk. The bottom line for Baker is this: he wins when he has good players and the players play hard for him. That’s all that matters.

3. Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants

Bochy is old-school and would fit in perfectly in the late 1800s with his gravely voice, gruff and grumbly—though likable—manner of speaking, and professional handling of his players. Like Baker, Bochy lost his closer Brian Wilson; dealt with Tim Lincecum’s poor season; and manipulated the lineup getting useful production from journeymen like Gregor Blanco after the suspension of Melky Cabrera.

4. Mike Matheny, St. Louis Cardinals

Matheny made some strategic mistakes as he was learning on the job after never having managed before, but the Cardinals made the playoffs and got past the expected pains of evolution following the departures of Tony LaRussa, Dave Duncan, and Albert Pujols. Matheny coaxed a career year out of Kyle Lohse, transitioned Lance Lynn into the starting rotation and an All-Star berth, and overcame the injuries to Lance Berkman and Yadier Molina.

5. Fredi Gonzalez, Atlanta Braves

Gonzalez learned from his mistakes by not burning out his bullpen and overcame injuries and questions in the starting rotation and lineup to win 94 games. Gonzalez and pitching coach Roger McDowell developed Kris Medlen; didn’t abuse Craig Kimbrel; overcame the struggles of Randall Delgado and Tommy Hanson; and the injuries to Brandon Beachy and Jonny Venters. Dan Uggla dealt with prolonged slumps; Chipper Jones was in and out of the lineup; and the Braves went through multiple shortstops, but still emerged in a tough division to make the playoffs.

My preseason pick was Johnson and that’s who’s going to win.


The Yunel Escobar “Slur”

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Perhaps this was a joke that went awry. Since players no longer use a tube of black gunk as eye black and it’s now a clean stick-on, a few teammates could’ve taken Yunel Escobar’s supply of eye black stickers, wrote the offensive terms on them in an ink that doesn’t activate until it reaches a certain temperature—presumably from sweat—and watched as hilarity ensued.

Except it wasn’t hilarity to those who saw it or had their attention drawn to it by the media.

If Escobar did this himself, then it’s piling onto the problems of the multi-talented Cuban since he came onto the scene with the Braves and repeatedly angered Bobby Cox and his teammates with his pouting and brainless play that led to the Braves trading such a gifted athlete to the Blue Jays in the first place.

Is this that big of a deal? It’s offensive, but the controversy from 2011 when Braves’ pitching coach Roger McDowell openly mocked fans with homosexual allusions in coarse terms with children nearby was exponentially worse than clubhouse humor that was meant to be a joke among teammates and turned into a huge mess. In the confines of the clubhouse, where teasing about sexual orientation and playacting in such a way is a regular occurrence, it’s not a big deal at all.

What those who are taking such great offense to this are missing is that baseball players are baseball players and sports clubhouses are sports clubhouses. Because there’s greater scrutiny, closer inspection and analysis of what happens on the field, and a larger number of outlets to bring stories to the our collective attention, it doesn’t alter the man’s world that is big time sports. The world is no longer insular; women aren’t relegated to being secretaries and receptionists; players are making their views on society more known and whether it’s due to religion or the macho sensibility that is prevalent among Latin players, this is going on publicly and privately.

Are there gay athletes in every sport from baseball to football to European soccer to hockey? Of course. Do they laugh along with the joking while putting up a front for appearances and to possibly keep their jobs? Absolutely. Is there anything that can be done about it? No.

That Escobar is a Latin player isn’t to be ignored. It was the same term as what was written on Escobar’s eye black—maricón which means “faggot” in Spanish—that was the genesis of one of boxing’s most storied and tragic events when Emile Griffith beat Bennie Paret to death in what could only be described as a visceral rage that isn’t present even in the most hotly contested fight. Paret, at the weigh-in prior to the bout, had called Griffith a maricón. It’s about as big an insult as can be tossed at a Latin. There’s a large amount of one-upmanship and perception that still remains in big time sports. When the Marlins signed Jose Reyes and told Hanley Ramirez that he was moving to third base to accommodate the new acquisition, it wasn’t simply that Ramirez’s position of shortstop was being usurped, but the idea that his territory was being threatened. Whether it was good of bad for the team was secondary to issues that have more to do with a mentality and culture than anything else.

Despite only two of these incidents being known to the masses in recent history, it’s not indicative of an isolated instance. There are higher-educated and self-described “enlightened” people running around professional sports teams than there were in the past. As recently as 15 years ago, baseball executives in top posts were all male and were almost all former players, legacy cases, or men who worked their way up in one form or another. More diversity doesn’t imply greater enlightenment. There will still be people who think women shouldn’t be involved with the men making baseball decisions; there will still be people who allow their own personal feelings to interfere with whom they hire as on-field staff.

The media is acting indignantly at Escobar because they’re supposed to act indignant. Certain new age segments are turning ashen, shocked that such a thing could exist and be accepted in this day and age. These are entities that are either ordered to write about a situation that’s become known and aren’t surprised and those who don’t have the faintest clue about what’s customary inside a big league clubhouse.

MLB is investigating the Escobar incident because they don’t want to alienate a large segment of the population. It’s a business and uttering slurs against any bloc is bad for business. But considering what inside baseball people know of what’s normal in the sanctity of a clubhouse, I’m sure there are many who are shrugging and saying, “It’s just a dumb baseball player or a joke that went wrong.”

Escobar will be punished because MLB has no choice in the matter, but this type of thing is reality that wound up in the news. It’s as monolithic as the farm system, advance scouting, and players complaining about their contracts. One punishment for show is not going to make it stop.


Don’t Blame Fredi This Time

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What’s wrong with the Braves?

Is it the pitching?

Is it manager Fredi Gonzalez and his coaches?

Is if the offense?


Mike Minor has been mostly dreadful; Randall Delgado inconsistent; Jair Jurrjens was on the trade block and was sent to the minors; and Brandon Beachy was brilliant before he got hurt. They were one of the few teams in baseball that didn’t have a starting pitching issue before the season but are now on the lookout for starting pitching with a pursuit of Zack Greinke in the offing.

Gonzalez has made a conscious effort—in conjunction with the front office—to limit the use of his more trusted relievers Jonny Venters, Craig Kimbrel and Eric O’Flaherty. He’s still done the inexplicable “Fredis” such as when he left Venters in to pitch to Alex Rodriguez with the bases loaded as the tying run at the plate. Naturally A-Rod homered to tie the game and the Braves lost.

With Gonzalez as manager, these gaffes are tacitly accepted and understood.

The Braves’ offense is, statistically, much better and that credit could grudgingly go to new hitting coach Greg Walker. Former coach Larry Parrish advocated an aggressive approach that resulted last season’s .308 OBP and finishing 10th in the NL in runs scored. This season their OBP has risen to .323 and they’re 4th in runs scored.

How much of that is due to Walker and the dismissal of Parrish are realistic questions. Their clubwide pitches per plate appearance ratio is up from 3.79 to 3.87. Dan Uggla and Jason Heyward have improved noticeably in that regard. Is it that the Braves are waiting for their pitches to hit or that they have Michael Bourn for a full season, a healthy Heyward and an Uggla off to a better start? Brian McCann and Freddie Freeman are both far behind where they were last season. Does Parrish get the credit for the good things or just the blame for the bad things? Is that the criteria for Walker and Gonzalez. What’s more important: results, process or perception?

The Braves’ main issues have been on the mound. So does pitching coach Roger McDowell come under fire? Or is it explainable by Jurrjens’ decreased luck and the aforementioned pitchers who are struggling and hurt?

There’s no reason for a team with this level of talent to be barely over .500 and 6 games out of first place. But that’s where the Braves are. Those with an ulterior motive to get rid of Gonzalez for the greater good would love to latch onto this mediocrity as validation to make a change, but in reality if they had Bobby Cox back in the dugout running things, I’m not so sure they’d be much better than where they are right now. Gonzalez’s job could be in jeopardy in the near or distant future, but if they were going to fire him they should’ve done it after the collapse of 2011 and not now.

It would be strangely ironic if Gonzalez survived when he probably should’ve been replaced and is fired for the first half of 2012 when there’s no much he could’ve done differently.


Viewer Mail 5.1.2011

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Nicole writes RE my review of the Joe DiMaggio book—link:

Paul – bravo! That is one of the best book reviews I’ve read in a long time. You are an excellent writer. Thanks for lending your reviewing talents to Jerome’s book and for hosting a stop on the blog tour. We appreciate it.

Nicole was my contact when Tribute Books asked me to review the book.

Dunno if I’ve ever gotten a “Bravo” before!

Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE Roger McDowell:

What an embarrassment. Kids don’t belong at a ballpark? WTF!?!?! If it weren’t for kids at the ballpark no one would give a rat’s ass anyway.

You’re right.

Dude’s gotta go.

Never underestimate the power of blowback against the complainant and the power of “treatment”. The “damaged” family hiring Gloria Allred might wind up eliciting sympathy toward McDowell based on the sheer ridiculousness of it all.

He did something stupid, but if he goes through some sort of anger management course to “understand” why he behaved that way and—most importantly—if the Braves want to keep him on, he might hold onto his job.

Franklin Rabon writes RE batting orders:

I think one thing that managers drastically confuse is base stealing and base running. You want your leadoff hitter to be a good baserunner, because he’s going to be running the bases a lot, but you don’t necessarily want him stealing a lot of bases unless he almost never gets caught. Yet, a lot of managers will put a guy in the leadoff spot who steals a lot of bases, but gets caught a lot, when that player would better be utilized down in the order in front of slap hitters that need him to steal second and/or third in order to get a run across. Alex Gonzalez needs a guy on third much more than Dan Uggla does. Dan Uggla mostly just needs a guy on base, any base.

The propriety of basestealing is en vogue now more than ever with certain teams who are using it to their detriment. The Blue Jays have been running wild under new manager John Farrell and I don’t think it’s a good thing.

Yesterday Juan Rivera tried to steal third with the Blue Jays down a run and one out with 2 strikes on Edwin Encarnacion; Encarnacion struck out; Rivera was nailed by a wide margin at third.

The risk-reward was non-existent. Yes, on third Rivera could score on a wild pitch—which A.J. Burnett has the propensity of throwing—but it was a stupid idea.

In fact, off the subject, the Yankees-Blue Jays game wasn’t a case study in proper managing and execution. The Blue Jays don’t approach their at bats correctly. Why was Yunel Escobar hacking at the first pitch from the mentally fried Rafael Soriano before giving him a chance to implode? I understand it’s Yunel Escobar and he doesn’t listen or think, but it was beyond discipline; it was something you don’t do.

And Joe Girardi yanked Joba Chamberlain after he threw six pitches in the sixth inning why?

The insipid “formula”? I don’t want to hear about any formula. If any manager simply adheres to some absurd set of tenets, there’s no point in him being there at all.

In fact, this all ties in with the manager’s decision on whom to bat leadoff—many managers don’t think, nor do they lead; they follow which is the opposite of what a good manager is expected to do. With me anyway.

Mike Luna in The Bleacher Seats writes RE Michael Kay:

In what capacity does this Michael Kay person work for the Yankees? Isn’t he the TV play-by-play guy or something?

Why is he so far out front, then? He seems to act as spokesperson a lot of the time, like he’s head of their PR department. It’s just a little odd to me that he seems to need to speak for the organization, defending them where there might not need to be any defense.

Maybe I’m thinking of someone else, but is he the one that took shots at Cliff Lee during the playoffs, accusing him of cheating by touching his hat too much?

Very odd, indeed.

He’s the play-by-play man on the YES Network; host of Centerstage; has his own afternoon show on ESPN radio.

Nobody with a modicum amount of baseball knowledge goes to Michael Kay for analysis; he’s a Yankees fan with a forum and has taken his own private feuds public as he did with Joe Torre, ripping the former manager at every opportunity due to a personal and poorly concealed vendetta.

He’s not even entertaining as radio man John Sterling is; but Sterling’s act is tongue-in-cheek and he doesn’t pretend to be a reporter or analyst—it’s shtick.

Kay portrays himself as an insider with a breadth of experience from being a former sportswriter, broadcaster and radio host while still maintaining fealty to the Yankees organization.

YES has an agenda of Yankees support and Kay is the frontman.

I don’t remember if he took shots at Lee; the main distraction with Kay during the playoffs was his declaration that the ALCS was over…after the first game.

Expertise is relative and Kay is an orphan.

John Ogg writes RE my posting about Mike Francesa—link:

Just wanted to let you know I loved your article, that’s dead on about Francesa.
I belong to a site called themikefrancesa.com & thechrisrusso.com . With those names, you’d probably think it was a site dedicated to their greatness. Most use it now to complain about Mike and how horrible his show has gotten since Mad Dog left. They complain about how Mad Dog just isn’t the same with Francesa. We discuss sports in general and WFAN NY 660 AM.

Again, spot on about Francesa. Great article. I’m going to check out your book as well. Have a nice day. – John (Johninga at themikefrancesa.com)

I appreciate the compliments John.

Truthfully, I rarely listen to Francesa anymore and wonder about Russo’s listenership since he moved to satellite radio. I totally understand their need to go off on their own, but something about the duo worked; they needed each other. Neither man’s ego will allow them to openly admit this fact, but somewhere underneath the arrogance, egomania and self-importance, they have to know it.

I don’t understand Francesa’s need to be considered omnipotent and never wrong—to the point where picks are altered and he uses outside sources for fact-checking but claims to have “thought” about statements and corrected them.

It’s no great accomplishment to never be wrong—I certainly don’t want to be right all the time; it only enhances credibility to admit a mistake and be somewhat humorous about it, but his pomposity and desire to be relevant stops him from seeing or accepting it; perhaps it’s the sycophants who treat his every utterance as if they’re profound, but it all ends with the same result—a desperate desire to present this image that couldn’t exist in anyone, specifically someone who’s totally wrong as often as Francesa is.


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I published a full excerpt of my book here.

It’s available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon or BN. It’s also available via E-book on Borders.com.

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A Narrow Window

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The Braves placed pitching coach Roger McDowell on administrative leave pending the investigation into the incident in San Francisco in which he was accused of threatening, abusive and offensive behavior towards the fans—ESPN Story.

Minor league pitching coordinator and veteran baseball man Dave Wallace will take over as Braves pitching coach on an interim basis.

The crux of this situation is this: is the investigation being conducted as a perfunctory method to cover all their bases before firing McDowell? Or are they going to give McDowell a chance to take an anger management course or some other means to show public contrition for what he did in an effort to keep his job?

If a sufficient amount of time passes and the episode blows over, then perhaps McDowell can keep his job.

It’s a tough road for McDowell and the Braves with Gloria Allred representing the “traumatized” family. So horribly wounded by McDowell’s tirade, presumably the only thing that will assuage their collective pain is a sufficient amount of money.

But I suppose it’s possible.

The Braves had no choice in the matter but to do something to at least delay making a permanent change, and Derek Lowe‘s arrest for DUI last night certainly didn’t make their lives any easier. They had to make the McDowell incident go away for now.

We’ll see what happens but maybe he’ll stay.

Wallace is a respected pitching coach and good baseball man. He’s experienced in multiple facets of an organization having worked in front offices, as a minor league coordinator and in hotbeds of controversy with the Dodgers, Mets and Red Sox.

He’s no yes-man; he butted heads with Bobby Valentine when Wallace was hired to replace Valentine’s preferred pitching coach and friend Bob Apodaca with the Mets, but Wallace appeared to be a pawn in the constant tug-of-war for control between Valentine and GM Steve Phillips.

But that was personal. As a coach, he’s done a good job and he’ll be perfectly fine whether he has to take over permanently for McDowell or is only there long enough for the incident to be muted and McDowell is able to return.


I’m administrating a discussion group on TheCopia.com. Click on the link to leave a comment or start a new topic.


Please purchase my book, Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide.

I published a full excerpt of my book here.

It’s available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon or BN. It’s also available via E-book on Borders.com.

It’s out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.

If anyone would like to purchase an autographed copy, leave a comment; Email me; contact me on Facebook or Twitter.

Become a fan on my Facebook fan page. Click on the link.


There Are Better Ways To Commit Career Suicide

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Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell was either drunk or left his brain back in Atlanta before the team’s trip to San Francisco as he pretty much covered all the bases of job-ending stupidity in a public rant against the San Francisco fans and various groups in general—NY Times Story.

You can read about calls for McDowell’s firing everywhere; obviously he’s not going to be able to keep his job after this.

That the offended family chose to hire matron saint of the cause célèbres and tabloid fodder, attorney Gloria Allred, is a clear indicator that they’re not letting this go until they get paid; McDowell gets fired; or both.

McDowell did something so far beyond the scope of acceptable and excusable bouts of dunderheadedness that he’s going to be forced out as Braves pitching coach. No ifs, ands or buts. At first I thought the his apology was sufficient before reading the full context of the story, but he’s gotta go.

If McDowell was a star, difference-making pitching coach with a track record that would justify his retention despite this incident, obviously the Braves would find a way to keep him on. Dave Duncan gets a pass for most transgressions because he’s Dave Duncan and Tony La Russa wouldn’t let him be fired without a patented La Russa tantrum; McDowell doesn’t get that same leeway.

Mentioning La Russa isn’t a small part of such an equation. If Bobby Cox were still managing the Braves and insisted that McDowell be given the chance to redeem himself, McDowell might survive this inexplicable act of self-immolation; new manager Fredi Gonzalez has enough problems of his own trying to establish himself amid the new clubhouse culture and rampant criticisms of his strategies that he doesn’t need to be answering questions regarding his pitching coach’s misanthropic, homophobic, abusive rant.

The Braves have no option other than to force McDowell’s resignation and presumably pay a settlement to the “damaged” family. They hired Allred because they want attention and money.

They’ll get it.

And McDowell will be gone from the Braves dugout. Soon.

I have no idea what the Braves would do for a replacement pitching coach; presumably they’d hire someone from inside the organization. Rick Peterson is out of work and highly respected, although I don’t know if the Braves would want to go the Peterson route—he’s got a short shelf-life and might infringe on Gonzalez’s authority; but he’s a good pitching coach with proven results.


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