Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
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Plodding Along
2005-12-12 05:32
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Miguel Tejada kept pipe dreams warm from Boston to Chicago to Queens this weekend. (The Sox and Yanks have also reached out to Roger Clemens' agents too.) After all, who wouldn't love to add Miggy to their team? But for now, it's just fodder, as the Orioles seem intent on keeping their star shortstop.

Meanwhile, in a bit of in-house intrigue, according to an ESPN report, the Yankees will not permit catcher Jorge Posada to play in the World Baseball Classic this spring. Steve Lombardi thinks this is fishy:

It's a three week tournament being played the same time as Spring Training. I don't see how it's OK for Jeter, Cano and A-Rod to take on this work, but, it's an extra hardship for Jorge.

Every once in a while I hear whispers about how some in the Yankees front office do not like Posada. I'm not sure why and/or over what. But, because I have heard this more than once, I have to wonder if this objection is a way to give Jorge some grief. If so, it's a story that I hope gets told someday. It would be interesting to know.

I have to say that I've got very little interest in the WBC tournament. That could change, of course, but right now, I'm most concerned about a star player hurting themselves, and subsequently gumming-up the works for his Major League team as a result.

Comments
2005-12-12 06:28:21
1.   wsporter
Rather than the Yankee front office being vindictive might this not presage a potential trade of Posada. Either that or as you say they may be afraid their 34 year old catcher will be injured or further worn down in the WBC for their own purposes. It doesn't make sense to me that they would employ this vehicle for the purpose of acting vindictively given the potential for such extreme negative reaction. As my friend Sigmund used to say "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar".
2005-12-12 07:09:42
2.   JohnnyC
Yeah, the front office hates Jorge 12 million ways. Let's not be paranoid...I wouldn't want my 34 year old catcher risking his season for the sake of another Bud Selig pyramid scheme either.
2005-12-12 07:19:32
3.   Dimelo
I agree. Steve/WasWatching might be acting a little paranoid about the FO relationship with Jorge. Jorge's words were very polite and accepting of the Yankees decision, he didn't react as if he was peeved. We might be reading too much into it. BTW, no hard feelings toward Steve and WasWatching. Great site, just didn't agree with the analysis.
2005-12-12 07:22:40
4.   Ben
What can the front office possibly have against Jorge?

I can see that you'd have to let Jeter and Arod play for PR reasons, but otherwise, until this thing becomes fan driven, why risk the injury? The Olympics it ain't.

2005-12-12 07:49:05
5.   searay
Perhaps it just has more to do with him missing time working with the pitchers.
2005-12-12 07:49:55
6.   JohnnyC
BTW, I am shocked -- shocked -- that baseball purists and advocates of fair play everywhere are not up in arms over the Red Sox's efforts to go out and acquire every All-Star they can get their hands on...and now they want Tejada. When will Bud Selig step in and...oh, yeah...never mind.
2005-12-12 08:13:44
7.   ChuckM
Yanks were the most vocal about not sending any of their players to the WBC (at least Cashman was) of any team. It wouldn't surprise me if Selig did some arm twisting to get them to send Jeter and A-Rod, so they compromised and kept Jorge out of it.
2005-12-12 08:55:13
8.   Cliff Corcoran
I see this as nothing other than a well-reasoned move on the part of the Yankees to keep their aging catcher from getting any more worn down than he already does at the end of every season. I do feel for Jorge, who clearly wanted to play, but to me this is just another indication that the Yankee front office finally has a plan.
2005-12-12 09:37:42
9.   rbj
Another vote for this not being much of anything, 34 year old catchers need to be healthy for the season.

I'm much more concerned if Mo is playing. Any word on that?

2005-12-12 09:39:25
10.   NetShrine
I heard that Rivera will not be playing in the WBC.
2005-12-12 09:50:25
11.   Alex Belth
That's GOOD news about Rivera.
2005-12-12 10:00:36
12.   Peter
It would've been weird, though, to see Mo pitch to Jeter.

I'm not too concerned about position players in the WBC but Wang's pitching for Taiwan and that makes me a little anxious.
Supposedly, pitchers are supposed to be kept to strict pitch counts equal to spring training levels.

2005-12-12 10:09:56
13.   Peter
Also, Matsui hasn't made a decision yet as to whether or not he'll play. You'd think there'd be a lot of pressure on him from home to play, so I wonder if the Yankees are holding him back.
2005-12-12 10:10:45
14.   standuptriple
I agree, Jorge needs to be spending quality time with the pitching staff. Keep in mind that they also have a new pitching coach as well. No reason to screw with the relationship out of the gate. It seems like they did their homework and came to the conclusion that the negatives vastly outweighed the positives.
Oh, as far as the WBC not being popular, well trying to buy tickets has not been easy. Still pending...Wish me luck.
2005-12-12 10:15:24
15.   Dimelo
I think Theo should wear the ape suit anytime he appears in public.

Curtain call for Epstein
By Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff | December 12, 2005


This is getting a tad ridiculous, no?

Despite what most thought were surely delusional rumors of Theo Epstein's return to the Red Sox (ones that percolated the very moment he resigned on Halloween and continued to brew right into the Christmas preparatory season), it does now appear that the once and future general manager of the Olde Towne Team is set for a grand return to the franchise he supposedly turned his back on six weeks ago today.

Huh?

It's difficult to imagine a stranger scenario. Well, that's not quite true. I suppose Jim Beattie as the team's GM would have been a pretty strange choice for a team with championship aspirations. But perhaps it took interviewing the likes of Beattie and Jim Bowden and being turned down by 52 other candidates to make Larry Lucchino realize what everybody else in the world knew in the first place: the candidates were in-house already. So before losing any more of them as well, the team finally, thankfully, and mercifully reportedly came to a decision to name Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington co-GMs at a 3:30 press conference this afternoon at Fenway Park. Gee. Why didn't they just do this in 2000 with Bush and Gore?

Hmm. Maybe because there's no way in hell it would work? Bet you thought some semblance of that once you learned the plan, whether or not you were pleased with the fact that the club was putting its operations in the hands of two of its most capable and instrumental men. Still, you have to get a bit queasy when you see co-GMs, particularly on a team that already has three heads at the top. That's five guys at the top of the food chain making decisions, which is why sometimes you're sure to get debacles like Larry Bigbie coming across the desk. That's why you'll have split decisions on medical reports for the likes of Josh Beckett, with daily updates on who was for, and who was against the trade, just so when things pan out one way or another, you know where to point the finger.

"Don't blame me for Beckett," John Henry can say if he breaks down before July. "That was Lajoie's call."

"Don't blame me for Marte," Lajoie can retort. "That was Cherington's call."

And so on…

So, can co-GMs work? Do you really want to find out?

Which is why Theo Epstein is coming back as well.

Say again?

Epstein, the man who walked out of Fenway in a gorilla suit on Oct. 31 and never really gave a reason for his departure, is reportedly set to return to the Red Sox this week when the team announces what has been dubbed by Lucchino, "a restructuring of our front office," in a role as some sort of advisor to Hoyer and Cherington.

Actually, "advisor" seems like a generic way of saying he'll be the general manager.

He'll be what he has been the last six weeks, only publicly acknowledged. He'll be the man behind the curtain, Oz, as the unnamed forced driving the team's offseason. We should have thought it to be a little fishy when Bill Lajoie resigned out of respect to Epstein and then re-upped with the team just as quickly. That's because, as we found out last week thanks to a spilling-the-beans Peter Gammons, Epstein never really left.

And now, he's back. Or, staying, at least. Or something.

According to Rob Bradford of the Eagle Tribune, the advisor role is nothing more than an back-door way to give Epstein his old job back by spring training. "The switch will largely depend on redefining the duties of president/CEO Larry Lucchino, whose role in the organization continues to be revamped in order to pave the way for Epstein's re-emergence," he writes.

Bradford goes on to write, "The animosity between Epstein and Lucchino spilled out into a public forum just two weeks ago when the team's CEO repeatedly denigrated the former GM in an off-air rant to a Boston radio personality. The tirade included Lucchino repeatedly inferring that 'the truth' regarding 'that kid' would be coming out soon in a book about the Red Sox's ownership group. (The book is being written by former Newsweek contributor Seth Mnookin, who was given virtually unlimited access to the organization's hierarchy, including a Fenway Park office.)"

So, for all the talk and denial that this was not a power struggle between Epstein and Lucchino, it turns out all along this was a power struggle between Epstein and Lucchino, the padawan sniping back at his Jedi master for more power and control.

The truth. Contrary to their opinion, the public can handle the truth in this matter, and in fact has been waiting some time for it. Instead, we get a monkey suit and continued "no comments" out of Lucchino, who bristles any time anyone mentions the GM job or Epstein as if someone has just asked him for his PIN number.

Until now it seems. When asked by the New York Times' Murray Chass whether the Epstein rumors may indeed be true, Lucchino replied, "We haven't replaced him yet and he hasn't taken a position yet, so by definition it's been left ajar."

So, after six weeks of denial, the door is now open for Epstein? Whatever. More like Henry not allowing any hiring papers to be processed until he got his guy back, whatever it takes.

I have to admit, the conspiracy theory hit me this weekend, wondering if this wasn't all some grand ruse planned by Dr. Charles Steinberg, a soap opera of Shakespearian grandeur that would ensure the team remained in the forefront of the fans' minds from November until pitchers and catchers. I mean, where else does this happen? You quit your job, you usually just quit, not continue to show up at the office, and dabbling in everyday activities to boot. OK, I'm leaving, but on the way out, I might as well trade the shortstop. No, and then I am really leaving. I swear. Maybe it was all fiction.

He could even end the whole charade with some take on Al Pacino's "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." Maybe NESN can even make its own cinematic account of the drama. James Caan as Lucchino, Elijah Wood, Epstein. Working title, "Chronicles of Fenway, the Lying, the Rich, and the Hot Stove."

We've wasted six weeks theorizing where it all went wrong, wondering what Henry's "reason to be named later" in this whole charade was. Instead, it was nothing more than a little tit-for-tat between Epstein and Lucchino, with the team owner apparently doing everything he can to bring back the guy who never really left in the first place. And now the entire front office is in a state of Aeon Flux, with nobody really knowing his role in a work environment seemingly as chaotic as your average Building 19.

After six strange weeks, it looks like Epstein is back in the fold, where he apparently never left. Maybe he's been dressing as Wally these past few weeks after returning the gorilla suit, doing business incognito.

What, after all this, like THAT seems so strange anymore?

2005-12-12 10:55:28
16.   wsporter
Is it really so odd when a 30 year old guy isn't sure what he wants to do? What seems strange to me is that the management team of a multimillion dollar entity is messing around with this sort of nonsense. I'd say that maybe its time for the grown ups to start acting like grown ups but I keep thinking about Bob Lemmon's great line: "Baseball was made for kids, and grown-ups only screw it up." What the hell, I don't think Theo hurt them any on his first run through.
2005-12-12 11:00:35
17.   JohnnyC
The whole thing is smoke and mirrors. Larry Lucchino is readying his exit to become attached to the winning bid group that buys the Nationals. This way it looks like a "personality conflict" instead of something hatched way in advance by Rear Admiral Selig.
2005-12-12 11:15:37
18.   Simone
I can't blame the Yankees for not wanting to risk Jorge.

I see the "Epstein return to the Red Sox" as pure delusion myself. The reason that Theo left is still there and is still charge: Larry Lucchino. What exactly has changed to convince Theo that Lucchino will stop being an ass? Ummm, absolutely nothing. Oh, I have no doubt that Theo will continue to advise the Red Sox. Why not? It keeps him in the baseball community and his name alive for GM jobs in the next off season.

I am one of the few who doesn't think that Theo quitting the Red Sox means that he is particularly sensitive, being childish, etc. When I was younger, I quit a job that I really liked once because my boss piled on so consistently that my life became totally miserable. The stress was so bad that I had intense back and neck pain that never went away. One day, my boss did yet another annoying thing that wasn't a big deal by itself, but for me it was the last straw. I simply couldn't take it any more so I went home thought about it, confided in the people whose judgment I trusted, and the next morning I called in and quit. I didn't have a job lined up so I bummed off my meager savings, friends and family until I was gainfully employed 2 months later. When you are young and single with no dependents, your life is your own.

2005-12-12 11:59:37
19.   KJC
Simone:

// It keeps him in the baseball community and his name alive for GM jobs in the next off season. //

Even if Theo spent 2006 away from baseball, I think people would still remember him enough to hire him next year...

// I am one of the few who doesn't think that Theo quitting the Red Sox means that he is particularly sensitive, being childish, etc. //

Not knowing the details of Theo's departure (obviously), I agree with your comment there. Of course, the biggest difference between his and your situation is that Theo has more than just "meager savings" to get by.

2005-12-12 14:10:28
20.   markp
Simone
I think the media tried to portray him as a cry-baby because he's a lot of things they aren't:
Intelligent (at least more intelligent than they are, which often isn't saying a lot.
a sabermatician, which they truly despise
young, but in a position of great authority.

I'd love for him to join Cashman and brainstorm on who the Yankees want to get or keep.

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