- David Brown at Big League Stew7 hrs ago
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Baseball might be his life, but it is not life and death to Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon. When asked at the winter meetings Monday what the Rays starting rotation might look like if the team trades left-hander David Price — as many expect them to — Maddon did not reply with the attitude of a panicked man.
"Honestly, listen, I've been in an RV for a month," Maddon said. "I just saw my grandkids in Arizona, hung out in Long Beach for about a week. I mean this sincerely, I really put it down. I'm pretty good at putting it down. I think it's important to put it down."
He's been living in a van down by the river! Just like Matt Foley, the best character Chris Farley ever played on "Saturday Night Live." And like Foley, Maddon would make a great motivational speaker. But he also was being coy. It's important to note that the RV to which Maddon referred had several TVs, including satellite programming. If he wanted to keep up with the doings in baseball, he could have.
And he's been talking to Rays general manager Andrew Friedman, who has been keeping him in the loop, vacation or not.
- David Brown at Big League Stew8 hrs ago
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Marvin Miller missed making baseball's Hall of Fame in his sixth and what his family hopes is his final opportunity. A legendary labor leader, Miller's contributions — while not universally appreciated, obviously — had as much or more of an effect on the game than those of anyone else in the past 40 or 50 years.
And yet, the various electorates in a position to acknowledge Miller's place in baseball have refused to do so, time and again. No disrespect to former managers Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre — all of whom were announced as new Hall of Famers on Monday — but their awards are tarnished because Miller isn't already in Cooperstown. It's too bad for them, but that's way it has to be. And that's how Miller would have wanted it.
- David Brown at Big League Stew9 hrs ago
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — New Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price said he has heard the talk about slugger Joey Votto needing to tinker with his approach. Votto, who is third among active players in OPS, supposedly needs to be more aggressive, expand his strike zone and not take so many pitches — the argument goes — so that he might drive in more runs.
Votto has resisted that notion, and Price doesn't buy into it, entirely. Speaking on Monday at baseball's winter meetings, Price said:
"It's been mentioned, 'Oh, I think he needs to extend the plate and drive in runs' and I don't believe that. It can be very difficult to work hard and get an understanding of the strike zone and be able to manage it like Joey does, and then ask him to go outside that strike zone and be productive with runners in scoring position."
Phew. You've got to be blotto to want to change Joey Votto.
- David Brown at Big League Stew12 hrs ago
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — He might have been better off ignoring it, but Seattle Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik responded to a story in the Seattle Times that sometimes brutally questioned his qualifications and abilities to run a baseball team.
Zduriencik released a statement and later talked to reporters at the winter meetings Monday, addressing assertions made by former manager Eric Wedge and another former Mariners employee who said the M's front office was plagued by "total dysfunction and a lack of leadership."
In replying, Zduriencik attempts to paint Wedge as being disgruntled at not being given a contract extension. He did not address an assertion by Tony Blengino, his former top assistant, that Zduriencik misled the M's about a key part of his resume.
Here's the total statement by Zduriencik:
- David Brown at Big League Stew13 hrs ago
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Chris Sale is no Michael Jordan, says Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf. But don't put too much into a rumor that Sale might be traded by the White Sox here at baseball's winter meetings or later in the offseason.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports said other teams are "pushing" the White Sox to discuss Sale, an All-Star the past two seasons who finished fifth in Cy Young voting after posting a 3.07 ERA and 226 strikeouts in 214 innings in 2013.
A few minutes after the announcement Monday morning that Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox had been elected to baseball's Hall of Fame, Reinsdorf — who gave La Russa his start in the major leagues in 1979 — was cornered about the Sale talk.
"I just heard that rumor. I only had one player in my 33 years of sports that couldn't be traded. He wore No. 23 — and 45 when he played baseball," Reinsdorf said, referring to Jordan, who famously played for Reinsdorf's Chicago Bulls in the NBA and Chicago White Sox in the minor leagues.
- David Brown at Big League Stew15 hrs ago
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Roy Halladay said he wanted to retire with two teams, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies.
"I don't think that's possible," Halladay said with disappointment Monday at the winter meetings.
Toronto, where Halladay got his start in professional baseball, it is.
A two-time Cy Young winner who pitched a perfect game and a postseason no-hitter for the Phillies in 2010, announced he is retiring after signing a one-day contract with Toronto. Halladay went 203-105 with a 3.38 ERA, 2,117 strikeouts, 67 complete games and 20 shutouts for the Phillies and Jays.
His chances for the Hall of Fame probably should be described as "possible," if not likely. He used the dais at Disney World to reminisce about a fabulous career that ended because of injuries. Halladay said he has two pars fractures, plus an eroded disk between the L‑4 and L‑5 vertebrates. His shoulder bothered him because he tried to compensate for his back hurting. His voice cracked from time to time as he went over the past.
- David Brown at Big League Stew18 hrs ago
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The winter meetings usually act as a catalyst for offseason activity in Major League Baseball, but that won't be the case this year. Christmas has come early, as several huge free-agent signings and even some trades went down this past week and the week before. Nearly a quarter of the free agents who filed after the World Series already have signed, and several other deals were on the verge of going down.
Robinson Cano signed with the Seattle Mariners. The New York Yankees reeled in Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann. The New York Mets signed outfielder Curtis Granderson. The Boston Red Sox brought back Mike Napoli, brought in A.J. Pierzynski, and let Jarrod Saltalamacchia go to the Miami Marlins. The Detroit Tigers traded Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler and signed Joe Nathan, and also dealt Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals. Pitchers Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco signed with the Minnesota Twins. The Kansas City Royals traded for Norichika Aoki. The Oakland Athletics traded for Jim Johnson. The St. Louis Cardinals swapped David Freese for Peter Bourjos.
- David Brown at Big League Stew2 days ago
Temperatures in Texas hit the 80s earlier this week, but Jack Frost was up to no good by Thursday and Friday, slamming the Dallas Metroplex with a wintry blast of ice and snow. Bad weather has forced the cancellation of the Dallas Marathon, which was expected to draw 25,000 runners. It's also coated Rangers Ballpark in suburban Arlington with a coat of ice and snow. It's still more than four months until opening day, so the grounds crew probably will just let this stuff melt without worrying too much.
Luckily for us, a photographer from the Arlington Police Department came by to take this shot. Another for MLB.com also happened by and took more amazing photos of the scene.
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- David Brown at Big League Stew2 days ago
Being handed a contract for $240 million is reason enough for Robinson Cano to trade his pinstripes for a compass and play for the Seattle Mariners. But he also reportedly didn't like how he was being utilized by New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi, and is happy to be leaving the Bronx for that reason also. So much so, apparently, that he didn't even call the Yankees to give them a chance to match Seattle's big offer:
Reporter George A. King III in the New York Post has the anonymously sourced details:
“Robbie didn’t like batting second, he wanted to bat in the middle of the order,’’ one person said. “The Yankees wanted him second because that was best for the team. He wanted to hit in the middle of the order to drive in runs [to increase his value].’’
Through the middle of June, Cano shuttled between second and third in a lineup that didn’t have Derek Jeter to hit second or Rodriguez in the cleanup spot.
- David Brown at Big League Stew3 days ago
George Steinbrenner would have paid Robinson Cano. So it's a good thing for the New York Yankees that Hal Steinbrenner, the team's current owner, is not his father. Because in five or six years, when Cano is 36 or 37 years old and probably struggling to earn $24 million a year and there's still four or five years left on the $240 million contract he signed with the Seattle Mariners on Friday, the Yankees won't have to be wondering how they got here — again — and how they'll get out of it.
The Yankees have been down this expensive road before. With Alex Rodriguez, for $275 million. With CC Sabathia for $182 million. With Mark Teixeira, for $180 million. They've even taken on the likes of Vernon Wells and Alfonso Soriano at the end of their megadeals when no one else wanted to afford them anymore. They've seen what's happening with Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in Los Angeles.