Boras the star of winter meetings
Cubs would need haul to trade Bryant; Sox giddy about Robert’s prospects.
After four days of nonstop walking and talking about baseball at the annual winter meetings, many executives, scouts, agents and writers found themselves on the same flights home.
Brewers general manager
David Stearns earned my undying respect by sitting in a middle seat in coach on our flight to O’Hare, saving his organization money and declining even to upgrade to an aisle seat with extra leg room. Give the man a raise, Brewers.
Besides Stearns’ middle seat, here are five other takeaways from the annual hot stove week.
1. Love him or hate him, Scott Boras delivers the goods.
The prominent agent set up a backdrop with his corporation’s logo in the lobby of the San Diego Hyatt as if he owned the place.
Maybe he did. No one affected the market more than Boras, who got megadeals for Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon and is on track to get more than $1 billion for his clients this winter alone.
I asked one agent if he and his peers hate Boras for grabbing the spotlight or love him for helping increase their own clients’ value.
“I don’t hate him,” the agent said. “Mostly I’m in awe he’s able to get what he gets. Who were the Nationals bidding against on Strasburg?”
2. Cubs players didn’t have a say on their new manager.
After the 2010 season, several prominent Cubs lobbied for interim manager Mike Quade to be rehired, lauding his performance after taking over for Lou Piniella in August.
It worked, and Quade was back in 2011, his only full season on the job. Some of the same players complained about Quade that year, and incoming Cubs President Theo Epstein let him go after the season.
The theory exists that many current Cubs lobbied Epstein to hire their friend and former teammate David Ross as Joe Maddon’s replacement, but Epstein said it’s not the case. He said he “chatted briefly” with Jon Lester after the season but not about Lester’s old friend Ross.
“I tried to draw a line,” Epstein said. “It’s not the players’ decision. I respect what those guys think, but I don’t want any of them thinking they can have a say in choosing who the manager is. That’s probably not the best dynamic in the world. That’s not the case here.”
3. White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is sick and tired of losing.
Reinsdorf agreed to speak Wednesday about Hawk Harrelson winning the Hall of Fame’s Frick Award but didn’t want to talk about his team’s chances of competing in 2020.
“I’m tired of being optimistic and then seeing my optimism was misplaced,” he said, abruptly ending the interview.
Reinsdorf could’ve been talking about the Bulls as much as the Sox. Either way, the cumulative effect of owning two losing franchises is getting on his nerves.
Afterward, Reinsdorf chided a reporter for not following the “rules” of the interview session and asking him about the Sox. Oops.
Sorry, but Sox fans deserve to hear what Reinsdorf is thinking about the team’s future. Apparently he’s apprehensive about his remarks being misinterpreted, a stark change from the days when he spoke his mind on any subject.
I miss the old Reinsdorf. Can we get him back?
4. Better communication will be a key component of David Ross’s managerial philosophy.
Ross played four seasons under Braves manager Bobby Cox, who banned music in the clubhouse.
While he didn’t say he’s anti-smartphone, Ross said he wants more communication between players and less time wearing headphones or looking at their phones.
Whatever they do, Ross wants them to do it together, even if it’s complaining about the manager.
“You complain together,” he said. “That creates relationships. You start talking about whether it’s off-the-field stuff or winning stuff or being a part of certain moments in the season. Communication is how we develop those relationships.
“If you put your head down or your headphones on and you’re staring at your phone in the locker room because your routine is done that day, you’re not affecting the group.”
5. The winter meetings are obsolete.
Other than the after-hours socializing, the winter meetings really are unnecessary in this day and age.
It’s a nice tradition to be sure, but baseball executives could do everything they do at the winter meetings from their homes or offices, on their phones and laptops, saving everyone a lot of time and money. It seems to work just fine at the July trade deadline when they’re all separated and communicate via phone.
But if they insist on having an offseason meeting, they should combine the general managers meetings and winter meetings and hold it before Thanksgiving. More players would likely know before the new year where they’ll be playing, and executives could have January to mostly chill before the long grind ahead.
Boras could fly from city to city if he needs some face time to get a $300 million deal done.