The Rundown: Lack of Cell Service May Have Hampered Deal-Making, Market Correction for Relief Pitchers, Week in Quotes
Despite a flurry of deals at the end of the day yesterday, the Winter Meetings, especially for Cubs fans, were kind of a bummer. Jed Hoyer didn’t mince any words, knowing Cubs fans wanted more. When front office executives say “they did a lot of things behind the scenes,” I don’t really get the warm fuzzies. That’s just prep work, and you’d think that that part of their offseason would have been completed before they left for Nevada.
Whatever, Jed, nobody has ever confused you with Mr. Excitement.
Sports Illustrated had an interesting take on the subdued atmosphere: poor cellular service.
The most interesting aspect of the week was the lack of movement for relief pitchers. Last winter, it seemed like high-leverage relievers were being signed at a pace of about two per day and most assumed guys like Andrew Miller, David Robertson, Adam Ottavino, et al, would be rocking eight-figure contracts. Heck, Craig Kimbrel wants to be paid in excess of $100 million dollars.
But a lot of those relievers didn’t play to the level of their paychecks in 2018 and suddenly every relief pitcher looks like Greg Holland to MLB executives. What we are seeing is called a market correction. It’s a nice way to rephrase “complete lack of movement” to avoid accusations of collusion or collective behavior.
Rather than recap the relatively dull Vegas shenanigans, I am just going to throw some of the best quotes of the week at you.
- If something doesn’t make sense today, it doesn’t mean it won’t make sense tomorrow. All I can tell you is where our current focuses are. But at the same time, we’re a fully functional Death Star. – Brian Cashman
- I would love to get into a legitimate confrontation or debate where we pull out the stuff we looked at and that weak-ass superficial bullshit you look at. – Tony LaRussa, to Chris Russo on High Heat
- I don’t think we’re going to do anything to make us worse. That’s the best way I can answer it. We don’t want to go backward. We want to continue to try to give ourselves a chance to win. – Terry Francona
- Certainly, we’ve had a lot of meetings over the last three weeks. We’ve met with a lot of clubs, had a lot of discussions. When you get to that point, something could happen quickly. Something could also happen in a matter of weeks. So we really can’t put a time on it. When the nurse walks into the room with a thermometer, the issue isn’t the temperature that day. It’s their health when they’re ready to leave the hospital. And they’re not ready to leave the hospital. – Scott Boras
- We definitely moved the ball forward on a couple deals today, then saw a couple go away. We’re closer on some and that’s about where it stands. This seems like the lowest transaction volume that I’ve ever witnessed at a Winter Meetings in my history. – Jeff Lunhow
- I just don’t feel any pressure to do something in the next day and a half. But obviously if things do line up, we’ll do it. – Andrew Friedman
- There’s nothing better in major league baseball than watching Josh Hader try to strike out Anthony Rizzo. – Craig Counsell
- You always think this for-dummy’s thing is really rudimentary written; it’s really well written and researched. I’m learning about traditionalists, baby boomers, the Xers, the millennials. And I’m really starting to understand this a little bit better. – Joe Maddon
- That’s classic Joe. It’s a great characteristic that Joe has: He’s curious and open to change after all that he’s accomplished. I think he’s looking to learn a little bit about it and probably apply some things next year. It’s a great sign. – Theo Epstein
David Stearns summed up the week quite succinctly: “We’ve had periods where we thought we were inching toward deal and things slowed down. Something could still happen over next 24 hours. I do think we’ve had productive discussions that will lay groundwork for rest of offseason.”
“Lay the groundwork” is something I’d be happy not to hear for a long time.
The quote of the week, however, goes to Boras, who was apparently one of the few with good cell coverage.
Boras said teams have been creative in pitches to Harper, including…”very graphic pictures” (?)
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) December 12, 2018
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs have been linked to the reliever market, though they may wait until January before making any new acquisitions.
- Epstein has not been shy in his desire to add bullpen arms this winter, but don’t expect the Cubs to set the market or be in the bidding for the top free agents like Kimbrel or Miller given the organization’s financial constraints.
- Jim Bowden believes a Chicago team is the frontrunner to sign Harper, but it’s not the Cubs.
- Meanwhile, Boras downplayed the Harper-Kris Bryant bromance as a potential Cubs advantage to signing his client. “I think they enjoy one another, but they also understand these decisions and what owners do are really independent of their relationship and they don’t have a lot of control over that.”
- The super-agent admitted that Addison Russell is benefitting from his offseason educational therapy program.
- The Cubs are braced for today’s Rule 5 Draft.
While Maddon may be on the hot seat despite a record of 387-261 (.597) with the Cubs, he sees opportunity instead of pressure as a possible free-agent manager after next season.
Even the rumor market crashed at this year’s meetings. Nobody had the energy or the information to float many decent rumors. Maybe everybody was playing blackjack.
The Mets have reportedly reached an agreement with Jeurys Familia. Before being traded to the Athletics, Familia was New York’s closer for five seasons.
Charlie Morton agreed to a two-year deal with the Rays. While it is surprising that Tampa was Morton’s landing spot, it was even more surprising that the Rays were willing to pay him $15 million a year for the next two years.
Former Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly has reached an agreement with the Los Angeles Dodgers for three years and $25 million, according to multiple reports.
The Reds and Nationals exchanged a couple of Tanners yesterday…Tanner Roarke will go from Washington to Cincinnati. The Reds sent relief pitcher Tanner Rainey east. Roarke is a good flip candidate for the Reds later this year as he is entering the last year of his contract.
Manny Machado stated that his first choice is to play for the Yankees.
The Yankees are reportedly closing in on a two-year deal with pitcher J.A. Happ that includes a vesting option for a third. Happ was 7-0 after coming to New York before last season’s trade deadline.
Archie Bradley has a leg up to be the Diamondbacks’ closer in 2019.
Two unidentified teams are showing interest in Miami backstop J.T. Realmuto. The Marlins haven’t identified either, but here in Milwaukee the sports radio outlet is saying the Brewers are one.
The Make-A-Wish foundation grants wishes to local children battling life-threatening medical conditions across the United States. If you really want to make a difference this Christmas, consider a donation. A wish come true helps children feel stronger, more energetic, more willing and able to battle their critical illnesses. For many, the wish marks a turning point in the fight against their illnesses.
The foundation is hoping to cover nearly 4,000 Christmas wishes. Lend a hand, even if it’s only your pocket change. One seven-year-old child donated her tooth fairy money yesterday. If that doesn’t get you a little misty, you have no heart.
A wonderful opportunity to bring the magic of @bumblebeemovie and the spirit of the holiday season with @MakeAWish. Excited to light up the NYC sky with the help of these young men and women! @EmpireStateBldg https://t.co/CVUfik3ssy
— John Cena (@JohnCena) December 8, 2018
I can’t even…
If you were wondering if the Winter Meetings were going to go Full Vegas, here's Carrottop on the MLB Network set. pic.twitter.com/kgVhbgSNsi
— Ryan Fagan (@ryanfagan) December 12, 2018
That’s not even the oddest event during baseball’s week in Vegas. Former A’s slugger Jose Canseco has petitioned to be named Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff via Twitter. The Bash Bother has no political experience, per se, though he did testify before Congress in 2005 during the hearings on steroid usage in baseball after admitting to using steroids in his book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big.
Thursday Walk Up Song
Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana. Landing at number 12 is a song that changed rock and roll by launching a new genre. Grunge pretty much killed off heavy metal, which by 1989 had morphed into a never-ending stream of uninspiring guitar licks and bad-hair balladry. This is historic stuff. The saccharin post-grunge artists that would follow Nirvana and their Seattle brethren would essentially be the driving force behind the end of guitar-driven music.