Like ballplayers, owners make decisions based on their own needs. Unlike ballplayers, owners are already soooooooooooo rich.
Free agency does a lot to clarify what matters to players. Some will opt for the highest average annual contract or biggest guarantee; others will take slightly less so they might preserve another bite at free agency down the road, before time completely diminishes their stars. Some are able to command both, because of savvy negotiating or some team’s desperate craving for a generational talent. Each outcome is revealing. Mega contracts make for surprisingly boring tales in this regard. The would-be lottery winner in all of us can imagine the satisfaction a nice, round number like $200 million might have as it rolls off the tongue. Many a player will take all the chips ownership will push into the pile and cash out, considering themselves satiated. It’s when those max contracts hit the tape only to be pushed aside by deals with virtues like flexibility or longevity or the promise of a World Series appearance, that we get to say something more interesting about what matters. Like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, with the top of the pyramid drawn in bespoke terms, assuming the shape of the complicated mix of ingredients and tiebreakers that make up happiness. As Sam Miller and Ben Lindbergh discussed on Episode 774 of Effectively Wild, those ingredients can be personal and perhaps a bit eccentric.
Johnny Cueto turns down $120 million, while the Mets chase Zobrist.
D’backs offer $120 million; Johnny Cueto says “no thanks”
Hours after the Tigers took Jordan Zimmermann off the market with a five-year, $110 million deal, we learned that the Diamondbacks did their best to snag the offseason’s other second-tier starter, Johnny Cueto. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert reported Sunday night that general manager Dave Stewart put a six-year, $120 million proposal on the right-hander’s desk, only to find that even that lofty sum wouldn’t be enough to secure his services.
Diamondbacks interested in Yovani Gallardo
The desert was ripe with rumors over the weekend, one that came to fruition and others that might take time to unfold. After exporting Jeremy Hellickson to Philadelphia, the D’backs are said to be in the market for free-agent pitchers, but it’s not yet clear which starters could fit into general manager Dave Stewart’s budget.
Arizona's Robbie Ray is quietly putting together an impressive breakout campaign.
Ever since his arrival in the desert, Arizona left-hander Robbie Ray has morphed into a flamethrower, with a propensity to pepper the outer edges of the strike zone, virtually overnight. It may have something to do with his Grizzly Adams-style beard, but it has a lot more to do with a staggering increase in fastball velocity, which has propelled him from a fringe fantasy prospect into one of the more intriguing young southpaws in the game today.
We find six interesting storylines for the six all-but-eliminated teams--and none of them is about trading away superstars.
Bad teams are boring. That’s a thesis to which we can all subscribe, isn’t it? Sure, it’s interesting when a team invests heavily—almost desperately—in a given season, then falls flat, but for the most part, the trends we track and the decisions we analyze draw our interest because of their impact on the competitive prospects of the teams and players in question. The most criminal thing about the current MLB roster rules is that they discourage bad teams from being competitive, such that hardly anything that happens on the field for those teams merits our attention. Teams not only have incentive to lose more games within a non-contending season, but are saddled with conflicting interests when it comes to promoting promising young players during such a campaign. Young players who would have been in the big leagues 20, 30 or 40 years ago are now stashed in the minors months longer, if their team stinks. And it doesn’t pay to grouse about a manager steadfastly refusing to use his best reliever in a tie game on the road, if we can’t agree that winning that game is actually valuable to the franchise.
That stinks, especially for the hundreds of thousands of fans of bad teams who lose the chance to participate in a national conversation. So consider this a public service, an outreach program to the downtrodden and the disenfranchised of the baseball world. Six teams entered Wednesday’s play with Playoff Odds lower than 10 percent: the Braves, the Phillies, the Reds, the Brewers, the Rockies and the Diamondbacks. (Yes, we’ll have a conversation soon about how the NL and the AL have become so radically disparate, in terms of competitive landscape. But not today.) Without resorting to the cheap, easy stories that force the eyes of the fan bases forward at the expense of any enjoyment of this season (Who will Arizona take with the first pick? Will the Reds trade Cueto? Will the Rockies trade Tulo? Will the Phils trade Hamels?), I want to talk about the most interesting things going on with those six clubs. I don’t promise to deliver hope; some of these are bad things. I merely want to make sure that we spend a little time valuing the games these teams are playing, because buried beneath the mixed messages and the mounting apathy, there is real content, real action taking place, things that will shape the futures of the franchises, but can be discussed in real time, without undue abstraction.
Three weeks after Matthew gave up on the D'backs front office, he finds admiration for a series of moves.
On Friday night, the Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers on a walk-off single by Ender Inciarte. On Saturday, they knocked around Clayton Kershaw and shut Los Angeles out, 6-0, behind the debut performance of Archie Bradley—who was exactly as advertised, for better and for worse. That came on the heels of a season-opening series in which they stayed right with the Giants, losing two out of three, but competing in each game. Jake Lamb had seven RBI in the first two games of the season. Still, they woke up Sunday with lower Playoff Odds than any National League team this side of the Phillies. The Dodgers remain the overwhelming favorites to win the NL West, not just in 2015, but for years to come. The Playoff Odds Report, PECOTA, your Monday morning power rankings list of choice, no one is any higher on the Diamondbacks than they were a week ago. Nor should they be.
Well. Actually, yes, maybe they should be. I am. Two weeks ago, I tweeted this: