Tuesday, March 16, 2010


  • Tell me what you know....or else:

Because a reporter is not required to reveal his sources----whether they exist or not----doesn't preclude a club from conducting an internal investigation as to who's leaking stories that are either inaccurate or that they don't want out in the public for fear of a PR disaster.

Such a situation is currently being faced by the Phillies and----through not fault of their own----the Cardinals because of Buster Olney's reporting of internal discussions the Phillies supposedly had of trying to deal Ryan Howard to the Cardinals for Albert Pujols. As the days pass and more and more people react apoplectically and with utter bewilderment, the heat on whomever leaked this story----again, accurate or not----is increasing incrementally. One would have to assume that if Olney embellished something he heard in the wind from a mid-to-low level staffer, the pressure on him is rising as well.

Unless Olney really goes over the deep end (okay, further over the deep end) and reveals his source (he'd never get any real insider scoops again, so forget it), the information's not going to come from him. Let me be clear here: I'm not accusing Olney of making up the story because I have no idea where he got it; but it could've been anything from anyone, anywhere in the Phillies hierarchy and he ran with it before getting real confirmation from someone in a position of power that it was anything more than a passing mention in fantasy of what they'd like to be able to do knowing that it was nearly impossible to complete.

The Phillies front office led by Ruben Amaro Jr. has reacted swiftly, angrily and adamantly in their statements; the Cardinals were clueless because they were never even approached with this silliness----ESPN Story.

The clip regarding Amaro:

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. denied his team had discussed a trade and used "lies" and "ridiculous" and "irresponsible" to describe the report.

The clip regarding Cardinals manager Tony La Russa:

"Our organization plans on making Albert a player to start and finish his career here, and Albert has said he wants to stay here, so why would anybody want to start speculating?" he said.

I judge the veracity of such a proposal by the subsequent reaction from the participants. With the way Amaro forcefully and angrily denied the rumor; and La Russa so stunned, it's clear that this is absolute garbage. If a team is considering such a move and has executives who choose their words carefully and answer questions without answering questions, you can read between the lines and tell what's really being said. If Amaro said something to the tune of, "That's a wild suggestion for the acknowledged best hitter in baseball", but neither confirmed or denied, that'd be an answer right there; the answer being that it was considered and discussed.

There are also instances where stories are leaked to get a public reaction to how it would play out and lay the groundwork so it's not such a shock to everyone involved; also so that the clubs couldn't back out and say forget it when it's gone too far. There's a method to the madness. These things are sometimes strategically dropped into the water to see the ripple and whether it creates a devastating tsunami or is an acceptable splash.

Such is not the case here.

Amaro seemed genuinely angry.

Is Olney going to have a problem because of this? Will he have to start backtracking on his "story"?


Even if he doesn't have a real source or it was something akin to a game of telephone that got out of hand, we're unlikely to ever know it from anyone at ESPN. That said, there's nothing to stop Amaro----if he's mad enough----to deal with it himself in his own organization by flushing out the person who supposedly leaked this.

The confines of "reporters not revealing their sources" doesn't apply to inter-organizational politics. If I were Amaro, I'd find out who was whispering this stuff to Olney and their betrayal would be dealt with. So as not to make this a distraction, I'd have my key people put the word out that I simply wanted to know who said this; who spoke to Olney and hurt the club with this story. The sooner they 'fessed up, the better for them.

The consequences would vary upon who it was. If it was a loudmouthed low-level staffer, I'd fire him. If it was someone I needed, he'd be warned. Failing that, I'd put it out there that the guilty party wouldn't be fired from their job; I just wanted to know who it was. This too would be an example of semantics because not firing them wouldn't preclude me from making their life so miserable at work that they up and quit.

This type of thing, if true, is damaging to the Phillies organization; it has to be nipped in the bud. If Amaro is telling the truth, his credibility is on the line as the leader of the Phillies front office and it has to be handled.

One way or the other.

  • Cliff Lee--stone cold killer:

Spring training isn't too early to send a message and Cliff Lee obviously did just that when he fired two inside pitches at Diamondbacks' catcher Chris Snyder after the two collided as Lee was backing up home plate----ESPN Story.

Lee was ejected after the second pitch, which was over Snyder's head; Snyder walked to the mound, both benches emptied, but no punches were thrown. Lee denied throwing at Snyder, but as the mouthy Mark Reynolds put it, "I've faced Cliff Lee plenty of times to know he's got amazing control."

If you watch the clip, Lee was throwing at Snyder.

More evidence (as if you needed it) that Lee is a cold-blooded assassin out on the mound and couldn't care less about perceived propriety in spring training. Taking liberties, intentional or not, will be handled on the field.

After the way he dismantled any and all comers in the post-season last year, including the mighty Yankees, it's clear that Lee means business in his contract year. He's getting paid; he's doing what must be done; and it's one of the coolest things you'll see on a baseball field.

In an era where players are so friendly that it's driving such vicious competitors like Bob Gibson to wonder why they don't take each other for beers during the game or why they play at all, it's refreshing to see such ruthlessness from a modern player who's so clearly old-school that he's ahead of the game.

  • I know it's spring training, but...

The only times to place any weight on a spring training performance are when it's a young player trying to make a club or a veteran returning from injury.

With that the case, there's genuine cause for concern for the Athletics over the way Ben Sheets has been pitching. He's been getting blasted----SFGate Story----and there has to be legitimate worry that the guaranteed $10 million the A's gave him will end up going down the tubes.

Does this matter when the season starts? In the cosmic scheme of things, no; but with Sheets, there's never been any conscientious objection to yanking himself from a game when he's not feeling 100%; it's not as if he's going to stay out on the mound if he's hurt. Because of that, he might feel great and be pitching horribly, which is on the same level of bad news for the Athletics.

For Sheets's state of mind and the hopes of the team getting anything out of him, they'd better get a better performance from him at some point in the spring because if he pitches like this, it doesn't bode well for the Billy Beane $10 million Hail Mary that he'd get the front-of-the-rotation ace that Sheets has been in the past; in fact, it could be another mound of dirt on Beane's Moneyball-crafted "genius".

  • Viewer Mail 3.16.2010:

Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE Jason Heyward:

Nice link between Heyward and Frenchie. I've been wondering the same thing.

As for Pujols for Howard... thank you for squashing such a FUCKING RIDICULOUS AND ASININE non-story from Buster Shoe-Licker Olney.

Please, Buster. Please. Go out and get laid, Buster. Please. You need it.

The Braves don't appear to get it. Amid all the ridicule doled out on teams like the Mets, the Braves front office screw-ups going back to when John Schuerholz's tenure as the GM was winding down has been relatively ignored. With the battles between Bobby Cox and GM Frank Wren (much of it centered around the treatment of Jeff Francoeur), they've been a foundation of dysfunction. Heyward's a great talent, but they're not being fair with a 20-year-old kid anointing him as a savior.

With Olney, I have no idea of his personal issues/proclivities; but I seriously think he's too far gone for your eminently reasonable suggestion to do any good now.

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE the proposed Ryan Howard-Albert Pujols trade:

Yeah, the Cardinals would really swap Pujols for Howard. Um, no. Ridiculous. Could never happen. Of course that's what I said when the Phillies dealt Cliff Lee.

As big a mistake as the trade of Lee was, at the very least there was an argument for it----a stupid argument that is going to cement the Phillies' downfall, but an argument nonetheless. With this deal, it'd be a great idea for the Phillies, but the Cardinals would never do it.

Never. Never. Never.

If they even entertained the idea of trading Pujols, they'd send him to the American League and preferably to the West Coast. It's not happening.

Gabriel (Capo) writes RE Albert Pujols:

Maybe the Phillies are discussing that trade, but it's an illusion. They don't have the money to pay Pujols what he would want to leave St. Louis.

The Phillies have signed their core players to long term deals; they have Halladay on the books and aren't going to be able to keep Jayson Werth; the trade of Howard would free up some cash; presumably, they'd find a way to do it; but they'd have to let Jimmy Rollins go (which they should do anyway); and they're going to have to pay Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ eventually.

Plus if Pujols allows a trade, he is going to want the Alex Rodriguez-money that Olney suggests would be the motivating factor for the Cardinals to think about moving him. The Phillies won't pay him $275 million. There are maybe five teams that could do it now; and probably none that would. Forget it.


Jeff said...

Totally agree on Cliff Lee. Stone cold killer. He just has that Patrick Bateman like gaze in his eyes (and I know you're no fan of Ellis but ya gotta admit Lee has that gaze).

Lee's persona is what a pitcher's persona SHOULD be! It gives me goosebumps knowin' such a player still exists, as it is surely a thing of beauty.

Gabriel said...

Could Amaro be so angry because the news leaked far earlier than they could've wanted?

I think Lee's trade to the Phillies revitalized him, and he now means business. So glad the Jays don't face him regularly.