A's assistant GM David Forst has seen the team go from post-season pretender to legitimate contender, and a conversation with Mike Matheny.
David Forst certainly knows how to describe the Athletics' amazing 2012 season as well as anybody. After all, he has lived it as the club's assistant general manager and right-hand man to veteran GM Billy Beane. Forst was there at the start of spring training when seemingly no one outside the organization gave the Athletics any chance of contending. And he is here now, as the Athletics have become one of the biggest surprises in baseball by putting themselves in post-season contention for the first time in six years, even after being swept at home by the Angels in a three-game series this week.
The routes the White Sox and Tigers have taken to contention in the AL Central are completely different.
The Indians, if for a fleeting moment last Thursday night, seemed to have seized the type of momentum that might vault them to the top of the American League Central standings. Trailing the visiting Tigers and Justin Verlander, 3-1, in the seventh inning, the Indians struck for four runs, including back-to-back home runs from catcher Carlos Santana and designated hitter Travis Hafner, two players Indians manager Manny Acta said needed to increase their production during his pre-game meeting with the media, and went on to a stunning 5-3 victory.
A look at 10 new managerial candidates, and a conversation with Mets manager Terry Collins.
The All-Star break is coming into view, yet no managers have been fired this season. In fact, there have been only a few reports of any of the 30 major-league skippers even possibly being in trouble. But it will eventually happen. Some owner will finally get fed up, drop the axe, and his club will begin a managerial search.
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Roundtable discussion of the pressing questions facing the NL East teams as we approach the start of the season
1) After a disappointing sophomore campaign, what can we expect of Jason Heyward going forward?
MJ: Jason Heyward had an injury-riddled sophomore season in Atlanta, but there is a lot to like about his chances at a rebound campaign in 2012. His offensive line was deflated by a .260 BABIP, but his peripherals were once again stellar. His 11.6 percent walk rate represented a regression from 2010 but cannot be considered poor, and his .162 ISO likewise dropped from the previous year but did not experience a precipitous fall.
Were the Mariners wise to issue a contract extension to Jack Zduriencik?
Last week, the Seattle Mariners announced a multi-year contract extension for general manager Jack Zduriencik, putting to rest the speculation that a second-consecutive losing season would put his job in jeopardy. Keeping Zduriencik in charge of the rebuilding effort for at least two more years seems like a wise decision on the surface, but how much has he really accomplished in his time with the Mariners?
In the Nationals' and Orioles' battle for the local fan base, the team that blinks first may stand to gain the most.
This past month, I moved back up I-95 from Washington to Philadelphia, where I’d spent all but the previous eighteen months of my life. There has been only one major-league franchise in the City of Brotherly Love since the Athletics forsook Philly in 1955, but as I discovered during my sojourn in the District, many baseball fans in the DC area have been torn between the Baltimore Orioles, for whom many of them grew up cheering, and the Washington Nationals, who emigrated from Montreal in 2005. Neither team has been good during their years of geographic coexistence, and the metropolitan area has not seen a playoff game since 1997, but both teams have slowly begun to develop the young talent necessary to compete. Although animosity stemming from Orioles owner Peter Angelos’ opposition to a Washington franchise has cost the O’s some fans, many in the DC area have yet to determine their allegiance.
With such a strong, affordable core, the future in Florida depends on the progression of the kids.
When considering the franchises for which you might want to serve as GM for a Day, arguments can be made for the Florida Marlins as both the most- and least-appealing franchise to take a stab at. While this year’s squad finished just below .500 and could never quite pull itself into the NL East race, few clubs can boast Florida’s collection of young, under-compensated talent and lack of regretful long-term commitments—exactly the recipe for building a consistent winner in a small market. However, the Marlins have other issues which make them far less attractive than they ought, issues which are touched on by my proposed mission statement.
Despite a last-place NL West finish, Kevin Towers is a few shrewd moves away from making the Snakes contenders.
It was a disappointing year for the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team expected to compete for the NL West title but instead plummeted to the divisional basement. Former ace starter Brandon Webb’s attempted comeback from labrum surgery was continually delayed and eventually cancelled, budding superstar Justin Upton didn’t build on his outstanding 2009 season, and a mediocre offense couldn’t overcome often poor starting pitching and a historically bad bullpen—ingredients that contributed to a 65-97 record and a mid-season pink slip for GM Josh Byrnes. Interim boss Jerry Dipoto immediately went into cost-shedding mode, shipping out veterans Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson, and Chris Snyder in exchange for prospects and payroll flexibility, before handing over the reins to former Padres GM Kevin Towers in late September. Given this and if I were Towers, what steps would I take to return the Snakes to contention--initially and in the long-run?
Skip feeling snuggly about the Cubs, there's work to be done.
So, it's another disappointment-soaked season in sudsy Wrigley. Adding to the Carteresque malaise and general blanditude as the string gets played out, the Cubs don't even have the benefit of their ever-entertaining skipper, Lou Piniella. That grand old man, recognizing that the end was not merely nigh, but comfortably unpacked, settled in, and asking what's in the fridge, decided to abbreviate this last spin with ambition.*
A look at which clubs should be dealing for immediate help and which ones should be offloading players with the trading deadline eight days away.
Adding players halfway through a season is worth far more to a contender than half of their full-season value. Those players can make in a difference in a situation where a couple of games could make or break a team's season. The Mariners traded for Cliff Lee in December 2009 with the expectation that he would help them contend for the American League West title in 2010, but it turns out that an underperforming offense rendered his wins useless towards that goal and they traded him to the Rangers two weeks ago. However, any team competing for the National League wild card knows that it will probably be decided by a couple games and that one big acquisition can make the difference. Sometimes adding two wins in a half season from a four-win player does more for a team's playoff odds than adding four wins for a full season. As an extreme example, consider two teams who are tied for the division lead with one game left to play against each other. How much would they pay for an ace? Certainly more than 1/162 of his value because the odds of that pitcher pushing a team over the top are very high.