The Bourn Signing From All The Angles

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For Michael Bourn

A 4-year, $48 million contract with an option for 2017 making it possibly worth $60 million over five years isn’t what Bourn and agent Scott Boras had in mind when the asking price was around $15 million annually. Considering the market, the late date and that Bourn was costing a draft pick and the loss of money to spend in the draft, it’s a good contract for him.

The Indians are a relatively low-pressure atmosphere in spite of the spending and Terry Francona is an easy manager to play for. Bourn shows up to work every day and does his job. He’s durable, will steal 50 bases and play excellent defense in center field.

For the Indians

The concerns about Bourn’s age (30) and that he’s a “speed” player are overblown. For the life of the contract, he’ll be able to play his game and can hit independent of his speed. The Indians are being aggressive in a way they haven’t in years. Their rebuild had stagnated with the players they acquired in the CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee trades contributing very little. With Nick Swisher, Bourn and Mark Reynolds added to the lineup, they’ll score more runs and be better defensively. Their starting pitching is the key. Unless Ubaldo Jimenez reverts to what he was in 2010 with the Rockies, Trevor Bauer develops quickly and they squeeze whatever remains in Scott Kazmir and/or Daisuke Matsuzaka, they’re around a .500 team. Francona’s not a miracle worker and short of the Indians turning around and hiring Dave Duncan, they can’t manufacture pitchers out of nothing.

For Scott Boras

It’s naïve to think that Boras, when asking for the $75 million for Bourn, hadn’t calculated the factor of draft pick compensation and that the number of teams willing to spend that kind of money on Bourn was limited. Compared to what he publicly suggested as Bourn’s asking price to what he got, it’s a loss. But Boras is smart enough to know and to have conveyed to his client that the numbers might have to come down to get a long-term deal done and he’d have to sign with an unexpected entrant into the sweepstakes like the Indians.

For the Mets

If they’d gotten him, Bourn represented an upgrade in center field and signaled that the Mets weren’t sitting on the sidelines and yessing their fans to death with no intention of sealing the deal. I wrote about the positives and negatives for the Mets with Bourn and risking the 11th pick in the upcoming draft to sign him. If Sandy Alderson and the Mets were telling Bourn to hold off on signing a contract to see if they could get the compensation pick waived, they’re at best arrogant and at worst delusional. Had Bourn stalled the Indians, they might’ve told him to take a hike knowing that he was waiting out the Mets. Bourn took the deal in hand and was wise to do so.

The Mets weren’t pulling any sleight of hand to trick their fans and the media to think they were serious when they really weren’t, but it’s easy to see how some can view it that way. In the end, it’s Michael Bourn. He’s a useful player who would’ve helped the Mets, but not someone to get into a frenzy over either way.

For Francona and other managers

Imagine what Manny Acta is thinking right as he watches this. In his first managerial job, he was saddled with the woeful Nationals, had the difficult personalities Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes and Scott Olsen in his clubhouse, and got fired from a team that wouldn’t have won with Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre, Casey Stengel or any other managerial luminary overseeing it. In 2013, they’ve got the talent to win 100 games and have the veteran Davey Johnson at the helm.

Then Acta went to the Indians, overachieved in 2011 with limited talent and was fired when the team played up to their potential with 90+ losses in two of his three seasons.

Acta has no power to dictate terms. The above-mentioned names did. Francona does. None of those name managers would take that kind of job once they’ve established themselves as “winners” who can be sold as such to the fanbase. This has happened before. Lou Piniella was hired by the Devil Rays and promised that they were going to spend money. They didn’t and all he did was lose. He left and was absolved of blame for what happened in Tampa due to his reputation and previous work with the Mariners, Reds and Yankees. Hired by the Cubs, they spent big on free agents and were in the playoffs in his first season.

That’s how it works before the fact. Sometimes spending on a name manager and expensive players fails in practice as we saw with the 2012 Marlins and Ozzie Guillen. Guillen, a manager with a championship and successful run with the White Sox, will have trouble getting another job after that one disastrous year with the Marlins.

This is life for managers when they’re trying to gain footing or replenish a reputation. Fleeting and subjective, a manager is judged on perception and results. Acta is a good tactical manager and the players like him, but he’s been stuck with bad teams. Whether he gets another shot remains to be seen. He probably will and, as is customary, success hinges on the players the front office gives him.

Francona wasn’t immune to it either. He too had to fend off the somewhat accurate belief that he got the Red Sox job because of Curt Schilling, and that he’d work cheap while taking orders from the front office. It’s partially true. Francona won two World Series titles and he’s able to dictate that he’ll be paid handsomely and his team will spend money on “name” players. Francona did his time in the minors and managing a horrible Phillies team, now he’s reaping the benefits of his work with the Red Sox as the Indians are giving him players that Acta never had. He, unlike Acta, will be expected to win. If he doesn’t, he’ll suffer the same fate as Acta, only it will be pricier in terms of money and the future with the bartered draft picks, not to mention Francona’s reputation.

The Indians have put forth the image of “trying.” Now, they have to “do.”


Joe Girardi Is Smarter Than You

Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Management, Media, MLB Trade Deadline, Players, Playoffs, Trade Rumors, Umpires

The A.J. Burnett “controversy” as to whom he was talking to when he cussed while walking off the mound during a pitching change is obscuring another odious performance from the pitcher.

The video (apparently copied by someone from their TV and embedded from YouTube) is below.

The background story is how bad Burnett was; the foreground story is whether or not he was talking to manager Joe Girardi about being pulled or was referring to a pitch he’d thrown to Joe Mauer that he thought was a strike.

Burnett, Girardi and catcher Russell Martin all said it was about the pitch.

The Yankees fan base and media went into a predictable rant as to what they’d have done to Burnett; what should be done to Burnett; what will be done to Burnett.

Did it ever occur to anyone that perhaps Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild might be more versed in pitchers, pitching and handling players than the fans on Twitter who have the unpaid and unacknowledged ability to decipher a mechanical tweak or dispensing of punishement that would correct all of Burnett’s issues?

That the firestarters in the media are trying to craft controversy to create a buzz for their stories?

That the evolutionary-stunted, missing link Michael Kay doesn’t know anything about baseball to begin with so to think that he has the answer as to how to handle Burnett is a logical fallacy?

Joe Girardi went to Northwestern; is a feisty baseball veteran and longtime coach; a former catcher; and successful manager.

He’s smarter than you in life and baseball.

To think that he’s going to lose respect in the clubhouse because he either did or didn’t let Burnett get away with embarrassing him on the mound is ignoring that that same clubhouse has probably had about enough of Burnett as well; that the veteran players on the team will likely confront him and tell him to stop being a self-indulgent, blame-shifting baby—independent of whom he was talking to on the mound—and that he needs to do his job.

Girardi is managing a veteran team; he’s not Billy Martin in personality where he’s going to lose his temper and physically confront a player publicly to make circumstances exponentially worse and enable the media and fans to get what they want. He’s calculating the consequences.

Martin never lasted particularly long in any one place as a manager mostly because of blurring the lines of propriety and having to be the toughest guy in the room. This led to both his game-managing genius and consistent self-destruct mechanism; you can bet that Martin’s antics in today’s world would’ve made his managerial tenures even shorter, if they existed at all. He was an insecure, paranoid person.

Girardi is in to be the Yankees manager for the long haul and if he goes down the road of physically confronting players publicly, he’s leaping over the cliff.

Girardi’s not tough enough?

When he was managing the Marlins, he grabbed Scott Olsen by the shirt collar, yanked him down the dugout steps toward the clubhouse and screamed in his face—and it worked. A notoriously immature Olsen needed that.

Does Burnett?

Would it help if Girardi got into a made-for-TV altercation with a veteran under contract through 2013? Highly doubtful.

Girardi isn’t Martin; he’s smarter as a person and has a greater sense of self-control to know what would be wise and foolish. The fans and media don’t have that breadth of experience nor the guts to do what needs to be done no matter how much ranting and raving as to what “they’d” do.

They’d do nothing.

They’d do what they do: talk a lot; write about it; get nervous and frightened, concerned about perception rather than what would be good for the team and the player.

Was Girardi protecting his player? Maybe. It’s more likely that he’s telling the truth about what happened on the mound and, as has been the case this entire season with incidents involving Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, is dealing with it appropriately in spite of what would be a juicy story and what outsiders want.

Befitting his style and personality, he’s putting the fire out. That’s his job.


Your Idiot Rumor/Stupid Idea Of The Day 7.24.2011

All Star Game, Draft, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Management, Media, MLB Trade Deadline, Players, Trade Rumors

It was a close call. The near winner was the rumor that the White Sox and Cardinals were discussing a trade that would sent White Sox pitchers Edwin Jackson (a pending free agent) and reliever Matt Thornton to the Cardinals for Colby Rasmus.

Supposedly the White Sox were also going to send young players to the Cardinals or a third team was going to be recruited to help facilitate matters.

Do the White Sox even have any worthwhile young players past Gordon Beckham, Chris Sale and Dayan Viciedo? And why would the Cardinals want to rent Jackson and take Thornton, who was a total disaster as the White Sox closer for Rasmus, who’s taken up residence in Tony LaRussa‘s entrance only doghouse?

Rasmus is 25 and under team control for the next 3 years. If they’re going to trade him, they’d better get a substantial amount more than Jackson and Thornton and don’t do it in a fit of pique for a manager like LaRussa who’s going year-to-year and is notoriously prickly with anyone—especially a young player—who dares rub him the wrong way.

It’s lunacy.

But there was another rumor that was even more deranged.

The worst of the worst is reserved for the Nick Cafardo weekly piece summed up here on MLBTradeRumors.

Here’s the relevant bit:

Some Nationals people believe a change of scenery would greatly benefit B.J. Upton, and are considering “offering the moon” for him.

The “moon”? For B.J. Upton?

The same Nationals organization that thought they were going to straighten out Lastings Milledge, Scott Olsen and Elijah Dukes is going to somehow get through to Upton?

Have they learned from their mistakes in the attempted nurturing and maturing of the aforementioned problem children and the failures? Do they have a new strategy that the Rays haven’t tried?

The Rays have benched, yelled at, physically challenged and fined Upton. They’ve had leaders like Troy Percival, Jason Isringhausen, Gabe Kapler and Evan Longoria in their clubhouse and not one has gotten through to Upton. Joe Maddon is probably the easiest manager any player is ever going to play for while according him a modicum of respect. Short of sticking him in a room alone with Kyle Farnsworth and telling Farnsworth to do whatever he has to do short of killing Upton to get him in line, I don’t know what else they can do.

So what gives the Nats the idea that they’re going to unlock the secret to Upton’s massive talent? Who came up with this concept and why would they surrender the “moon” to get him? Is this the same line of thought that spurred them to give Jayson Werth $126 million? Because if it is, maybe they should do the exact opposite of what they think is a good move now.