Posted on: December 15, 2011 12:20 pm
Almost everyone agrees baseball could use a better system for signing international players.
So what system would be better?
Ah, that's much tougher, and that's why the new basic agreement included a provision for a committee to study possible changes. The commissioner's office and the union announced that committee on Thursday, and said that it will meet for the first time sometime before Jan. 15.
An international draft for amateur players, long a goal of commissioner Bud Selig, is the biggest topic on the table. Currently, only players who attend school in the U.S. (including Puerto Rico) and Canada are subject to a draft; all other players are treated as free agents.
That's why players defecting from Cuba (such as Yoenis Cespedes) establish residency in countries such as the Dominican Republic, rather than in the U.S. Cespedes will get much more money as a free agent who can deal with all 30 teams than he would as a drafted player who can deal with just one.
Baseball can't easily add all international players into the current draft system, because the rules for eligibility are so different. Most international players are eligible to sign once they turn 16, while players covered under the draft become eligible when their high school class graduates, and again after a third year at a four-year college.
The committee will be asked to determine whether there's a way to add international players into the current draft, or whether there should be a separate international draft.
The committee is also expected to look at ways to modify the posting system currently used to add players from the Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese professional leagues. That system, currently being used by star Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, has drawn heavy criticism on all sides.
Also, the committee plans to look at rules for signing Cuban players, and at how baseball develops international players.
General managers Sandy Alderson of the Mets and Andrew Friedman of the Rays will be joined on the committee by Kim Ng of the commissioner's office, and by union representatives Tony Clark, Rick Shapiro and Stan Javier. The committee will be co-chaired by MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred and union executive director Michael Weiner, who worked together to complete the CBA.
Posted on: December 7, 2011 3:06 am
DALLAS -- The Astros could name their new general manager by the end of the week, with Rockies executive Bill Geivett considered the favorite by some people in baseball.
The job has been open since new owner Jim Crane fired Ed Wade on Thanksgiving weekend, and the Astros have spent the last two weeks interviewing a group of candidates strong on scouting and player development credentials. After first trying for Rays GM Andrew Friedman, who turned the job down, the Astros have considered Dodgers exec Logan White, Royals exec J.J. Picollo and Cardinals exec Jeff Luhnow, as well as Geivett.
The 48-year-old Geivett is a former minor-league player who has spent the last 11 years working for the Rockies, first as the director of player personnel, then as farm director and eventually as senior vice president of scouting and player development. He's so popular with his bosses and colleagues that they're openly rooting for him to get the Houston job, even though replacing such a key front-office member at this late date will be difficult.
The Astros lost 106 games in 2011 and will need a complete rebuild, and Crane and new club president George Postolos are said to understand that the new GM will be facing a task that will require several years.
Posted on: December 1, 2011 4:41 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2011 9:57 pm
Rockies executive Bill Geivett will interview in the next few days for the Astros' vacant general manager position, and one baseball executive said it's believed he has a "real legitimate shot" at getting the job.
Others familiar with the Astros search weren't so sure, cautioning that the team is still early in the process and is in the process of seeking permission to talk to many candidates.
Rays general manager Andrew Friedman is the Astros' preferred candidate, but one source familiar with the search said it remains "doubtful" that Friedman would make the move. Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine was also considered a strong candidate, but he pulled out of the running on Wednesday.
Just as happened with the Orioles GM job last month, some people in baseball are questioning how desirable the Astros position is, particularly given the awkward timing of the process.
Because Jim Crane wasn't approved as the team's new owner until mid-November, the Astros didn't fire Ed Wade until this week, and now they're in the strange position of searching for a GM in the days leading up to next week's winter meetings (with a certainty that the search will stretch past the meetings). That makes it tough for candidates to leave prior jobs, and will make it next to impossible for whoever gets the Astros job to assemble a staff of assistants.
Geivett is interested in the job, has the Rockies' blessing -- even though it would be tough for them to lose him -- and is by all accounts a qualified candidate. The one question, one person familiar with the search said, was whether Geivett is aggressive enough for Crane's liking.
The 48-year-old Geivett is a former minor-league player who has been with the Rockies for 11 years, running the minor-league and scouting operations and most recently serving as assistant GM. His success in running both scouting and player development should be a benefit with the Astros, who will need to acquire and develop plenty of new talent.
"He's done everything," said one veteran scout who knows Geivett well. "He's ready."
And, at least for now, he's interested.
Other potential candidates may not be, and there were even rumblings Thursday that the Astros' treatment of ex-club president Tal Smith (fired by phone Sunday) had helped turn some people off.
Levine won't say why he didn't want the job, and didn't even mention the Astros by name in his statement Wednesday. He focused instead on how much he wanted to stay with the Rangers, where he is part of a management team that has had great success and also gets along extremely well.
Levine will remain in his current job with the Rangers, after some talk earlier that he would shift to overseeing the farm system. The Rangers have had an opening since Scott Servais left to work for new GM Jerry Dipoto with the Angels. Now, it's possible that job could go to ex-Astros GM Tim Purpura.
Posted on: September 21, 2011 1:08 pm
NEW YORK -- The Rays have a chance in the wild-card race because their rotation is better and deeper than those of the big-money Yankees and Red Sox.
The Rays are at a serious disadvantage in the wild-card race because they aren't nearly as good at scoring runs as they are at preventing them.
The Rays have more pitching coming, including Matt Moore, perhaps the best pitching prospect in baseball. The Rays have some emerging position players (including Desmond Jennings), but not enough.
The answer, to some rival scouts and executives, is clear: This winter, the Rays need to trade pitching for hitting.
Andrew Friedman understands, but the Rays general manager isn't sure he agrees.
"Starting pitching depth is very fleeting," Friedman said. "While we have it right now, we can't wake up one day with [only] three or four starters, where we have to go looking on the market.
"We're absolutely doomed if that happens. We're certainly not going into the winter saying we have too much starting pitching."
Friedman insists he was never close to trading a pitcher at the July 31 deadline, even though opposing teams believed that both Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann were available then. Teams were more interested in James Shields -- the Reds and Tigers had serious interest -- but all agree that the Rays weren't willing to move their ace. It goes almost without saying that the Rays wouldn't trade David Price or Jeremy Hellickson.
The question is whether they would move Shields -- or anyone -- this winter.
While it might be more comfortable to move Davis or Niemann, and put either Moore or Alex Cobb in that spot, it's obvious that Shields would bring a far higher return. Also, Shields' salary goes up to $7 million next year, which is cheap for what he gives but potentially expensive for a team that has real payroll issues.
But trading Shields could hurt the Rays beyond his 15 wins and big-league high 11 complete games. There's no doubt that Shields is the leader of a rotation that is as tight as it is talented.
"Shields is very much a part of the fabric of this team," Friedman admitted. "When we talk in spring training with our prospect pitchers, we often say, 'Go watch James Shields. Go emulate what he does.'"
Would Friedman trade Shields, or one of his other starters? Will Friedman even be the one making the decision, or will he leave the Rays for the Cubs or Astros?
He's not saying, and like his team, he's made a habit of surprising people.
But there is truth to what Friedman said. For the Rays, trading pitching for hitting isn't as simple and clear-cut as it sounds.
Posted on: August 19, 2011 11:48 am
Edited on: August 19, 2011 1:37 pm
We joke about the Cubs and the World Series.
Jim Hendry knew it was no joke. He knew that his job was to end the drought, just as it was Dusty Baker's job, and Lou Piniella's job, and Sammy Sosa's job.
At times, he'd even admit that if his Cubs didn't end the drought soon, ownership would have every right to find someone else to do it.
The drought continues, and now the Cubs will find someone else.
Friday's announcement that the Cubs have fired Hendry as general manager should come as no surprise, despite a few suggestions this summer that the Ricketts family liked Hendry. It shouldn't surprise us, and it can't surprise Hendry.
He had nine years to end a 103-year drought, and he couldn't do it.
In his first full season, the Cubs came within a game of getting to the World Series. In 2007, they won the National League Central. In 2008, they won 97 games and entered the playoffs as one of the World Series favorites.
They went through an ownership change that paralyzed the organization, but that's not enough of an excuse. He had plenty of money to spend, and in too many cases, he spent it poorly.
As he said Friday, "I got more than my fair chance."
It's time for someone else to try.
Who will that be?
The Cubs announced that Randy Bush, Hendry's assistant, will fill in as the interim GM. But theyre expected to hire someone else for the full-time job.
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said that he will begin the search immediately, and said he wants to find someone who is strong in player development, has an analytical background and comes from a winning culture.
There has been speculation in baseball that Pat Gillick could be headed to Chicago, but Gillick's friends say he wouldn't want to be a general manager again. Gillick apparently would be open to a job as club president, but Ricketts said Friday: "The new general manager will report directly to me."
Other names that are sure to come up are White Sox assistant Rick Hahn, who interviewed last year for the Mets job; Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, who grew up in the Chicago area and got his start in baseball many years ago with the Cubs; Yankees GM Brian Cashman, whose contract runs out at the end of the year (but is considered unlikely to leave); possibly Rays general manager Andrew Friedman, who has been more prominently mentioned in Houston; former Astros GM Gerry Hunsicker, working as an advisor with the Rays (and could also be a possibility in Houston); Rangers assistant Thad Levine; Blue Jays assistant Tony LaCava; and A's assistant David Forst.
Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, a Chicago native, could well have been on the list, except that he just signed a four-year extension to remain in Detroit.
By this winter, there will likely be other GM openings, as well. Andy MacPhail is thought to be on his way out with the Orioles (either by his choice, ownership's or both), and it's expected that incoming Astros owner Jim Crane will replace Ed Wade. It's also possible that there could be a change in Seattle, where Jack Zduriencik's team is having another disappointing season.
Pirates GM Neal Huntington is also in the final year of his contract, and while he is expected to stay, the team's recent slump has caused some people to wonder what will happen.
Posted on: May 21, 2010 10:21 am
Since this time a year ago, the National League has added Roy Halladay, Matt Holliday, Jason Bay and Jason Heyward, with Stephen Strasburg on the way.
The American League has added Javier Vazquez, Milton Bradley and Juan Pierre, with Mike Cameron on the way back from the disabled list.
You'd think the NL would finally be catching up, except that everything you see on the field tells you it isn't. Or, at least, that despite all the catching up the NL seems to have done, there's still a massive gap in talent between the two leagues.
"This league stinks," seems to be the most common refrain from scouts who cover the NL.
Which should be good news for the 14 American League teams that plunge into interleague play this weekend, at least until they realize that all their rivals get to face NL teams, too.
On to 3 to watch for the weekend:
1. The Yankees did everything they could to avoid having the struggling and unpopular Vazquez start against one of their rivals (the Red Sox). But they seem to have no problem having him open the Subway Series against their other rival, as he'll do in Yankees at Mets, Friday night (7:10 EDT) at Citi Field . The other pitching matchups in this series are much better, with the improved Mike Pelfrey against the even more improved Phil Hughes on Saturday, and the aces CC Sabathia and Johan Santana colliding on Sunday night. But with the Yankees losing key players by the day, and the Mets self-destructing, even the Vazquez-Hisanori Takahashi matchup in the opener is tough to skip. One question: If Vazquez gets booed at Citi Field, will the Mets fans or Yankees fans be doing the booing? Or both?
2. The Rays are the best team in the better league, or at least they have been so far. The Astros are the worst team in the worse league, or at least they have been so far. So naturally, they get matched up on the first weekend of interleague play. At least it should provide a nice homecoming for Houston native Andrew Friedman, the Rays general manager, and for Houston natives Carl Crawford and Jeff Niemann, who is the scheduled starter in Rays at Astros, Saturday night (7:05 EDT) at Minute Maid Park .
3. The Reds were the NL's hottest team, at least until they stumbled badly the last two days in Atlanta. The Indians may well be the American League's worst team, and they proved it by losing two straight at home to the Royals. So if the NL truly is getting better, maybe it will show by the time we get to Reds at Indians, Sunday afternoon (1:05 EDT) at Progressive Field .
Posted on: October 29, 2008 7:46 pm
PHILADELPHIA -- There can't be too many people who were at both the Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS and Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.
Rays general manager Andrew Friedman attended both, each time as a fan. He was a 9-year-old Astros fan in 1986, and remembers Game 6 as "traumatic." He was a 26-year-old Wall Street investment analyst in 2003, with no great ties to either the Yankees or the Red Sox.
He went to Game 7 with Matt Silverman, now the Rays president. Silverman was in the restroom and missed the Boone home run.
"They didn't have the radio feed going in the bathroom, so he didn't know exactly what happened," Friedman said. "He just said that he felt Yankee Stadium was about to crumble around him."
As Game 5 of the World Series is set to resume tonight, Friedman may be in for another memorable night.
But will it match 1986 and 2003?
"Two phenomenal games," Friedman said. "(The '86 game) was an incredible game, quite possibly the best playoff game in the history of baseball. It was as intense a game as I can remember."
Posted on: October 22, 2008 1:32 pm
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Imagine if you'd told someone back in 2003 that you were leaving a big successful company in New York to go work for a small, unsuccessful baseball team in Florida.
Seriously now, which company had a better future, Goldman Sachs or the Tampa Bay Devil Rays? Bear Stearns or the Devil Rays?
Where would you rather be working now?
You don't have to answer that. It's too obvious.
Yeah, the world sure has turned around in five years. It's turned around in just the last year, which is why the renamed Tampa Bay Rays are going to win the World Series which begins tonight at Tropicana Field. And why Rays president Matt Silverman (formerly of Goldman Sachs) and general manager Andrew Friedman (formerly of Bear Stearns) will be drenched in champagne sometime in the next 10 days, for the fifth time this year.
I'm not saying that there's no way the Phillies could win. They're a talented team, and Game 1 starter Cole Hamels is one of the best pitchers in baseball right now. They have the perfect closer in Brad Lidge, and setup man Ryan Madson has come out of nowhere to throw 99 mph in October.
But the American League is clearly baseball's better league right now, and the Rays play in baseball's best division. Their 97 regular-season wins mean a whole lot more than the Phillies NL-tainted 92 wins, and their playoff run through the White Sox and Red Sox is much more impressive than the Phillies' wins against the flawed Brewers and flawed Dodgers.
Not only that, but the Phillies have been an on-and-off offensive team all season. They can look great one week, and awful the next. Taking a week off at this time of year has to hurt them, just as it hurt the Rockies last year and the Tigers the year before.
The Rays have a deeper rotation, they have a lineup that works and they have a manager who can work magic even with an average bullpen.
In short, they're the team of 2008. This is the place you want to be, especially if the alternative was working for failing companies on Wall Street.
"You know it's funny, but going through this, I haven't had time to really reflect on it," Friedman said, when I asked him how much better it is now to be a Ray than an investment analyst.
Besides, even when the stock market is thriving, no one at Goldman Sachs pours champagne over your head. There's nothing on Wall Street that compares to winning the American League pennant.
"I think that feeling can only be achieved in sports," Silverman said. "I had a lot of people say they felt like they were 8 years old again, winning in T-ball. There's nothing like that in business."
There's nothing like the World Series, and nothing like winning it.
Rays in 5.