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Kris Bryant continues service time debate with outstanding spring

“Cubs ownership has a choice. Are they going to present to their market that they are trying to win? Tom Ricketts said they were all about winning. When someone says it’s the system, no, it’s a choice — the choice of winning.”
Scott Boras, agent of Cubs prospect Kris Bryant, on the looming possibility that the Cubs will send his client down to the minors to start the season. (Ken Rosenthal, FOX Sports)

“This is no different than [Jason] Heyward, Elvis Andrus, [Troy] Tulowitzki, Austin Jackson, [Jose] Fernandez with the Marlins,” Boras said. “Their owners had the same choice [Ricketts] has. They were about winning and they went for it. And those clubs got the result and effect of players performing and winning, in some cases going to the World Series.”

“I believe the issue with Kris Bryant is not whether he should be on the 2015 team. The issue is, why wasn’t he called up in September of last year when he could have prepared for the 2015 season? He was the [MLB] Minor League Player of the Year. Others who did not perform as well were called up. And that issue is even more relevant today.”

“Kris Bryant's development path has absolutely nothing to do with ownership, period. As with all our baseball decisions, I will determine where Kris begins the 2015 season after consulting with members of our baseball operations staff. Comments from agents, media members, and anybody outside our organization will be ignored.”
—Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, in response to Boras’ remarks.

“As I told Kris last September and again at the start of spring training, we view him as nearly big league ready. The remaining area for improvement is his defense — something Kris agrees with. Kris is 6-foot-5½ and therefore faces obstacles other third basemen don't face. This spring training we wanted him to work on his footwork, his first step, his throwing and other fundamentals with as many game repetitions as possible. More than anything, we want him to get in a good rhythm defensively before he makes his major-league debut. That has not happened yet, in part due to some shoulder fatigue that is not a concern but has limited the amount of game action he's been able to have at third base.”

“Scott works for me. He does a great job. It’s nice to have a bulldog working for you rather than a poodle. He definitely sticks up for his players. He wants the best for me.”
—Bryant, on the war of words between Boras and Epstein. (Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune)

“First, the ownership has been great to me. Drafting me second overall, treating me with nothing but first class. I’ve had a great time. Tom has been great to me. Everyone in the front office has been great to me. I have nothing but good things to say about them. But at the same time, I’m hearing from my teammates they want me up and I’m doing well and everyone is telling me I’m progressing well, and it’s sending mixed messages to me. But it’s definitely refreshing to hear from my teammates that they want me up there and even other coaches that I know personally from around the (Arizona) Fall League and telling me how well I’m doing so. I definitely don’t let it get to my head. I really got a job to do on the field, but it’s definitely nice to hear that from your teammates and peers around.”
—Bryant, on ownership and encouragement from his teammates.

Pete Rose’s investigator advocates maintaining lifetime ban

“This (gambling) is just such a terrible business … it really does infect the game," Dowd told The Enquirer in a lengthy interview last week. "Pete committed the capital crime of baseball.But this is bigger than just Pete Rose. There is a reason we haven't had another gambling case in 26 years. This case wasn't about Pete — this case was about protecting the integrity of the game. When we investigated (former Philadelphia Phillies star) Lenny Dykstra for gambling, he told us: 'Thank God for Pete Rose because now I know what the ultimate price was.'"
—Former special counsel to the commissioner of baseball John Dowd, on Pete Rose. Dowd conducted the investigation that led to Rose’s ban from the game 26 years ago. (James Pilcher, Cincinnati Enquirer)

“Commissioner Manfred is a good man and is going about this in the right way, but it is true that people nowadays really need to understand what happened and why it happened. And I hope that the commissioner will concentrate on that.”
—Dowd, on Rob Manfred considering Rose’s request for reinstatement.

"To be honest, it doesn't really matter whether he bet for or against the Reds, or as a player or just a manager. What matters is that, by the end, he owed a half a million to some pretty unsavory people, who were actually in the clubhouse from time to time. Imagine a half a million mortgage over your head every time you walked out on the field to go to work and wondering how you were going to pay that off, especially to those kinds of people. That's how insidious this had become."

“I remember reading that anytime a sportswriter wrote a column saying Pete got a raw deal, that John Dowd would mail him a Xerox copy of the report … and, lo and behold, a week later, there would be a column retracting the previous position. That's why we published it. And I remember trying to be balanced and fair when I wrote what I did, but you can't come away from reading that report and not have a strong position."
—University of Mississippi law professor Ronald Rychlak, who wrote an introduction when the university’s law journal became the first to publicly published Dowd’s report in 1999.

"I'm not particularly proud of the result as this is an incredibly tragic story. But at least it stands as an example for all of baseball, and hopefully for all time."

The Rest

“AZ was already very interested in the ‘Moneyball’ principle before I got here. I have known Billy for a while, because of my history in baseball. When we approached him for this role with AZ, he was immediately enthusiastic. He has been able to close the gap with the big-market teams, by being innovative. We are very excited and look forward to working with him. Billy will give his advice from the States and he will visit Alkmaar a few times a year.”
Robert Eenhoorn, former MLB infielder and current director of the Dutch soccer club AZ Alkmaar, on hiring Athletics general manager Billy Beane as an official advisor. (Marcus Kwesi O’Mard, NESN)

“It re-established the principal purpose of the draft, in that the weakest team had the ability to get the best talent at an affordable price. Frankly, we thought we made progress on the international side in terms of caps and penalties we put in place. Two years into the deal we felt pretty good about where we were. So what happened? With the relaxation that's taken place with respect of Cuban players it has put a stress test on that international system. Frankly, it's proved wanting. I am of the view that at some point, for the good of the game, for the good of competitive balance, we are going to have an international draft.”
—MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, on the slotting system introduced into the first 10 rounds of the amateur draft during the last CBA and how he thinks a similar “leveling of the playing field” should eventually be adopted in the international market. (Paul Hoynes, Northeast Ohio Media Group)

“You know, I've got my theories on that. I think baseball coddles guys so much now that you delay the inevitable. I think the reason you see so many big leaguers blowing out at a young age is because they would have done it before. But now teams limit pitch counts so much, even at the major league level, that now a guy in his second or third year will pop, when it would have happened in the minors. Before, when there wasn't such an emphasis on pitch counts, I think you kind of weeded that out. Then, guys would have surgery [in the minor leagues]. Then, they'd come back, and then, they'd get to the big leagues.”
—Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander, on the recent upward trend in Tommy John surgeries. (Jayson Stark,

“You’re trying to win games, and when you’re not confident in the seventh, eighth, and ninth, it just deflates your team. They work so hard at scoring the runs and getting the lead early on. If you blow it late, and if they don’t feel that they can win consistently, it just sucks the life out of them. It’ll drive you crazy.”
—White Sox manager Robin Ventura, on the club’s bullpen struggles last season. (Tyler Kepner, New York Times)

“This happens with everybody who has family there. It’s easy for them to kidnap people and ask for money. And everybody knows how much money the players make. They can Google it. It’s just not safe. You have to take steps. It was pretty shocking, for sure.”
—Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, whose brother Erickson was nearly kidnapped in a restaurant in Venezuela last year. (Evan Grant, Dallas Morning News)

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