Bo­ras the star of win­ter meet­ings

Cubs would need haul to trade Bryant; Sox giddy about Robert’s prospects.

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - CHICAGO SPORTS -

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.

Paul Sul­li­van

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