With word that Jed Hoyer will be joining Theo Epstein in Chicago, the Padres have a familiar face sliding into the GM chair.
With Padres GM Jed Hoyer headed to the Cubs in the same capacity under former boss Theo Epstein, another Epstein protégé, Josh Byrnes, takes over in San Diego. Although Hoyer's tenure didn't last as long as anyone expected, he made a few key moves that will help shape the course of the franchise.
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?
The Rays finally send for Desmond Jennings and demote Reid Brignac, the Pirates get some assistance from within, the Diamondbacks part with Wily Mo Pena and acquire a blast from the past, and the latest knuckleball developments out of Boston.
Which spring slumpers aren't going to stage a comeback?
On Sunday afternoon, Derek Jeter went 4-for-6 to raise his rates from a pathetic .221/.289/.235 to a still-anemic .257/.317/.284. Whether this signifies a new birth of Jeter so that shortstop of the Jeter, by the Jeter, and for the Jeter (and emphatically not for A-Rod) shall not perish from the earth remains to be seen, but at least the remote possibility exists. I’m less certain about some of the guys below, the worst hitters in the major leagues as we close out April. Should these teams stick or move on with these drowning hitters?
Dan Johnson, Rays-1B: .131/.185/.197 It’s a matter of religion with me that minor-league statistics mean something and true “Quadruple-A players” are about as rare as Sumatran tigers. Johnson is a career .307/.420/.560 hitter at Triple-A and performed well there as recently as last year. However, as when good things happen to bad people, Johnson’s major-league performances—.222/.328/.391 in over a thousand plate appearances, including .178/.292/.350 for the Rays—provoke a crisis of faith: Johnson is looking more tigerish all the time.
With Casey Kotchman on the roster, Johnson’s hold on the first-base job has been slipping, with Kotchman starting six of the last 10 games in what appears to be a kind of platoon made up entirely of left-handers. Johnson gets to face the southpaw pitchers while fellow lefty-swinger Kotchman sits. This is a weak solution, but the Rays don’t have great first-base options and Maddon has to do something to spark a lineup in which he’s been batting Felipe Lopez cleanup of late. Overall, Rays cleanup hitters have hit .159/.187/.284 on the season, the worst performance of any of their nine batting order slots. That’s an indictment of the players, the manager, and the general manager. It’s time to move on, perhaps by promoting Brandon Guyer, off to a hot start at Triple-A, and giving Johnny Damon some starts at first base—for all the good that would do. Even calling up Chris Carter—not the A’s kid, but the 28-year-old who washed out as a Mets reserve last year—would be better than carrying on with the present approach. Stick or make a change? Move on, and in a hurry.
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.
Who could be the surprise player of 2011, and could he rival the Jays' breakout ballplayer of 2010?
Last week in this space, among my random wishes for the upcoming season, I mentioned my desire for there to be another Jose Bautista in 2011, i.e., another veteran player who suddenly and unexpectedly puts up a monster year. Virtually no one predicted that the Jose-Bot would suddenly go all George Foster on the American League, but anyone that could have would have had a huge advantage in their fantasy or sim leagues last year.
Following in the steps of looking at how the Giants' roster was constructed, now we look at how the Rangers were put together.
Now it’s time to focus on GM Jon Daniels and former (arguably current) flamethrower Nolan Ryan’s creation, the Texas Rangers. We’ll start here with the one of the most potent and powerful offenses in baseball:
Team Salary: $55 million Average Salary: $1.9 million Total Years of Control: 90 Average Age: 28.6