Heyman: Orioles not expected to extend qualifying offer to Matt Wieters


June 12, 2016: Baltimore Orioles Catcher Matt Wieters (32) [7043] prior to the start of an MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre in Toronto, ON, Canada (Photo by Kevin Sousa/Icon Sportswire)

Indications are, the Orioles will not extend the $17.2 million qualifying offer to free agent All-Star catcher Matt Wieters, which could lead to the end of the longtime Oriole’s Baltimore tenure.

Teams have until 5 p.m. ET to extend the one-year offer, which if accepted, would tie player to team.

Wieters, who will turn 31 in May, has been a close call the past two winters for the orioles, but in the end last winter they extended him the offer, and he accepted it for $15.8M.

Wieters became a four-time All-Star this year, and with Wilson Ramos — seen as the top free agent catcher — having undergone knee surgery that’s expected to keep him out until the summer, Wieters is seen as the top free agent catcher who’ll be ready to catch at the start of 2017.

In 124 games last season, Weiters slashed .242/.302/.409, his lowest batting average and OPS since 2013; however, he still earned a nod to his fourth All-Star team, and finished the season with 17 home runs and 66 RBI, surpassing his combined totals from injury-plagued 2014 and ’15 seasons.

The lack of a qualifying offer could further enhance Wieters’ market. A multiple Gold Glove winner, he will undoubtedly cite recent free-agent deals for Brian McCann and Russell Martin, who received $85M and $82M, respectively, on five-year deals, as a free agent. In any case, it’s pretty clear the cost-conscious Orioles aren’t going to go there — though a qualifying offer isn’t a prerequisite to re-signing a player.

One of Baltimore’s top prospects is catcher Chance Sisco, though it isn’t known if he’s ready defensively yet.

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Heyman: Cardinals decline Matt Holliday’s 2017 option


28 June 2016: St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday (7) looks on from the dugout in an interleague game between cross state rivals the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, MO.  The Cardinals won 8-4. (Photo by Scott Winters/ICON Sportswire)

The St. Louis Cardinals have officially chosen not to pick up outfielder Matt Holliday’s team option for the 2017 season, sources tell Today’s Knuckleball. The club announced during the final homestand of the regular season that they did not plan to exercise the option, but have now officially made him a free agent by doing so.

Holliday has spent the past eight seasons as a member of the Cardinals, winning the 2011 World Series and being named an All-Star on four separate occasions. For his career in St. Louis, he slugged 156 home runs and was a .293 hitter with a .380 on-base percentage.

At age 36 this past season, Holliday batted a career-worst .246 with another career-low in on-base percentage at .322. He would play in 110 games for the Cardinals, who missed out on the postseason. He would return to form in the power department, hitting 20 home runs for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons, with 2015 being the lone exception.

Due to the emergence of young outfielders such as Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk, the team decided to move on from Holliday in favor of a youth movement. After having inked a 7-year/$120 million deal in 2010, the team declined to pick up his option for next season which would have paid him $17 million, instead electing for a $1 million buyout.

A seven-time All-Star for his career, Holliday will now hit the open market for the first time since he inked his seven-year deal with the Cardinals. Once a seventh-round selection by the Colorado Rockies in the 1998 MLB Draft, Holliday had the best season of his career with Colorado back in 2007 when he led baseball in total bases and finished second in MVP voting.

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Heyman: Tigers to pick up Francisco Rodriguez’s $6 million option


May 23, 2016: Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez (57) pitches in the ninth inning to get the save during the game on Monday evening, Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire)

The Detroit Tigers will pick up the 2017 option they hold on closer Francisco Rodriguez, which will pay the will-be-35-year-old $6 million, sources tell Today’s Knuckleball. The Tigers could have bought out the option for one-third the cost.

Rodriguez is coming off his first season with the Tigers after being traded by the Milwaukee Brewers roughly 12 months ago. In his first season in Detroit, the man they call K-Rod saved 44 games in 49 chances behind a 3.24 ERA. He appeared in 61 games covering 58.1 innings; he struck out 52 batters while walking 21, ultimately posting a 1.31 WHIP.

It’s hard to believe Rodriguez will “only” turn 35 this January, as 2017 will be his 16th major league season. He burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2002, appearing in just five regular season games but 11 playoff games as his Los Angeles Angels defeated the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. Since then, he’s been named to the All-Star team six times, led the majors in saves twice and his league three times, and set the single-season save record with 62 in 2008, his final season in Los Angeles.

Since that season, K-Rod has spent three years with the Mets, five with the Brewers over two different stints, and one each in Baltimore and Detroit.

The Tigers finished the season 86-75, eight games back of the Central, and eventual American League Champion, Cleveland Indians and 2.5 games back of a wild card berth.


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Heyman: Thad Levine to be named Twins general manager


Jun 09 2014: Minnesota Twins hat and glove prior to playing the Toronto Blue Jays. The Minnesota Twins are playing the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre, Toronto Ontario.

Thad Levine, longtime Rangers executive, will be named Twins GM in coming days, sources say.

He will work under the Twins’ new chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, whose hiring was announced a few weeks ago.

The Levine deal was done for a while, too, but the announcement was set to wait until after the World Series. LaVelle Neal of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune first mentioned the likely hiring.

Levine has been the assistant GM of the Rangers, the main lieutenant of GM Jon Daniels during the team’s very successful run, which included two World Series appearances and several other playoff appearances. This year Texas had the best record in the American League.

Falvey, while only assistant GM for the Indians for a year, like Levine is extremely well-regarded. He has been in touch with Twins decision-makers Rob Antony, the assistant GM, and manager Paul Molitor, in recent days while he remained with the Indians through the World Series. More changes are expected in the Twins hierarchy, though Antony is expected to stay and they’ve said Molitor will also stay.

Minnesota nearly made a surprise playoff appearance, remaining in contention until the season’s final weekend, last season before regressing in 2016. They finishing 59-103 this past season, last in the American League Central.

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Heyman: No matter what’s to come, these Cubs will be remembered


22 October 2016: Chicago Cubs celebrate after their victory for the National League Championship between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire)

Javier Baez, 23, became the second youngest to homer in a Game 7 of the World Series, then David Ross, 39, became the oldest to do the same. This Cubs team is one of the best blends the young and the veteran in baseball history, and you knew it would take something special to break the Cubs’ world-renowned 108-year run without a World Series title, the longest and most infamous dry spell in the history of sports anywhere.

Tonight, after the Cubs’ riveting 8-7, extra-inning win over the Indians, they are celebrating from Kenilworth to Calumet City, from Wheaton to Wheeling, from Old Town to Oak Park and all over Chicagoland a winning World Series nobody living there – or living just about anywhere – has ever seen before. And they are rejoicing over a team that was no fluke, easily the best in baseball from beginning to beautiful end, even if they had to sweat it out in a Game 7 that won’t soon be forgotten.

These Cubs left no doubt over 162 games that they were baseball’s best team, winning 103 regular-season games and dominating at every turn. But they showed something special in this postseason by coming back from 2-to-1 down to the $240 million Dodgers, then topping it in a World Series where they eventually outlasted the Cleveland Indians, who were working on their own decades-old drought themselves with a win in Cleveland that will be cherished forever by Cub nation.

By the end, after the Cubs won their third straight over a tough Indians team, they left little doubt they are the best team in baseball, a club deserving of their legacy as the historic ender of sports’ best-known streak of ignominy. Their starting pitching was deeper than anyone else’s, and their lineup might have been, too.

Their talent was undeniable, their spirit terrific, their resolve unmatched.

Even after blowing big leads, including a 6-3 advantage late, when a mostly spent Aroldis Chapman allowed a game-tying two-run home run in the eighth to Rajai Davis, the Cubs kept coming. After heartbreak threatened, and some rain came and went, the Cubs ensured their 108-year drought finally ended. Big run-scoring hits by Ben Zobrist and Miguel Montero will be replayed forever. But the kids remain to carry on.

They are dominated by a clean-cut group of milk-drinking 20-something kids that came mostly via draft bonanzas that make them the envy of baseball, with a sprinkling of fortuitous trades that are the reverse of the Lou Brock deal, ones that brought them something great for very little or less. But they also brought in just the right number of experienced vets, and just the right ones, too.

Jon Lester, John Lackey and Ross all came from championship team or teams in Boston, where Cubs honchos Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer helped break the meager 86-year jinx before setting their sights on something really historic. Ross and their other veteran catcher, Miguel Montero, showed the guts to speak up in Chicago after four games, when some of the Cub kids were getting overanxious, showing the needed leadership to go with all that talent that populates a 25-man roster that brings the promise of championships to come.

No matter how many they win, though, none will be as special as this, the championship that will spark a national holiday in the wonderful city of broad shoulders but few baseball titles on the North Side. Epstein, the main architect, won’t be able to buy a drink in any of the countless bars that surround Wrigley Field ever again, not that he can’t afford it – the Cubby Bear, Murphy’s Bleachers, Bernie’s; he owns them all now.

Joe Maddon, the most fun manager in the game, will be embraced forever for telling this team early to “Embrace the Target,” to not shy away or be nervous about the goal to do what no Cubs team has done in more than a century. And all these players – most young and a few older – will be recalled for contributing to an accomplishment no one will ever forget on the North Side, where the party is just beginning.

The fans have all earned this for their loyalty and persistence, for never giving up hope. Many of them recall dark years, and darker decades, ill-prepared teams and ill-conceived ideas (the college of coaches anyone?). Some younger fans might only recall the recent rebuild and stark ascent. In any case, they all get to enjoy.

Those late-comers are the fortunate few, because there may well be more where that came from. Ross, an inspirational leader who became beloved in two short years in Chicago, insists he’s done after this amazing year. But most of the rest of the key guys are coming back. With an adjustment or two (they will have to find a suitable replacement for closer Aroldis Chapman, who is a free agent), this organization may just be at the start of a dynasty not seen here since the days of Tinker and Evers and Chance.

They have the talent, the determination and drive to go a good long while.

Kris Bryant, the sure NL MVP, may be the game’s second-best player. Anthony Rizzo is the perfect combination of power and leadership. Addison Russell has the range, arm, pop and moxie rarely seen in a shortstop, Kyle Schwarber the kind of hitting ability that makes him a prodigy and Javier Baez the skill to dominate defensively at three different infield positions.

These Cubs have the combination of talent and youth to make this winning thing go a while. But even if they turn into the late-‘80s Mets and win only one title when many more seem possible or even likely, in this case, one is plenty to stamp them as Chicago legends for a lifetime. Because something tells me the celebrating over this one will never stop.

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Heyman – Rays acquire John Lamb from Reds for cash


July 03 2016: Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher John Lamb (47) before his first pitch during a MLB game at Nationals Park, in Washington D.C. (Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire)

FanRag Sports has confirmed that left-handed starting pitcher John Lamb will be on the move. On Wednesday, the up-and-coming southpaw was traded from the Cincinnati Reds to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for cash considerations.

Zach Links of MLB Trade Rumors was the first to report the news on Wednesday afternoon.

The 26-year-old hurler spent the last two seasons in Cincinnati after breaking into the professional ranks as a member of the Kansas City Royals’ organization. Rated as a top prospect while with the Royals, Lamb was then shipped to the Reds in a deal that saw veteran starter Johnny Cueto head from Cincinnati to Kansas City midway through the 2015 season.

In 2016, Lamb made a career-high 14 starts en route to amassing a 6.43 ERA across an even 70 innings of work. While managing 58 strikeouts against 31 walks, he posted a disappointing 1-7 record, thanks in part to pitching alongside an underwhelming Reds’ team. As a rookie in 2015, Lamb registered a 5.80 ERA across 49.2 innings of work and a total of 10 starts. He posted 58 strikeouts against 19 walks while producing another dismal record of 1-5.

While the Rays also struggled in 2016, the addition of Lamb’s arm will surely aid a young team on the rise come 2017. The left-hander will now join the likes of Chris Archer, Drew Smyly, Jake Odorizzi, Blake Snell and Alex Cobb in the Rays’ starting rotation. However, with Lamb serving as the sixth name on that list, perhaps manager Kevin Cash envisions his newest acquisition as a potential bullpen arm going forward.

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Heyman: Rangers open to trading Derek Holland this offseason


01 October 2015: Texas Rangers starting pitcher Derek Hollands during the MLB game between the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, TX. (Photo by Steve Nurenberg/Icon Sportswire)

According to a source close to the situation, starting pitcher Derek Holland may have played his last game as a member of the Texas Rangers. In advance of the Rangers owning an $11 million club option for the 2017 season and another $11.5 million club option for 2018, it appears as though Texas would be more than willing to trade Holland in order to avoid keeping him on the books going forward. Texas is already discussing a possible deal with multiple teams, according to a source.

Texas would have to trade him before that option is due, meaning shortly after the World Series. That trade would likely be consummated before the option decision is due, if a trade is indeed agreed upon.

It is also worth noting that the two sides previously agreed to a $1.5 million buyout for 2017 and a $1 million buyout for 2018 if the Rangers find themselves unable to execute a trade.

The 30-year-old southpaw has spent the entirety of his big league career in Arlington while originally breaking into the league as a member of the Rangers back in 2009. Appearing in 33 total games as a rookie, Holland went on to make 21 starts and 12 relief appearances before becoming almost exclusively a starting pitcher.

Of his 179 career outings as a major league hurler, he has started 158 of them.

After making a combined 16 appearances, including 15 starts, between the 2014 and 2015 campaigns, Holland went on to make 22 appearances with 20 starts for the Rangers in 2016. Amassing a disappointing 4.95 ERA across 107.1 innings pitched, the oft-injured left-hander also produced a 7-9 record alongside 67 strikeouts and 35 walks.

With Holland potentially on the move, several clubs from around the league could certainly use the services of a seasoned left-handed starting pitcher. The New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels, among others, come to mind as the 2016-2017 offseason looms.

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Heyman: Joe Maddon takes his turn making mark on World Series


Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon watches from the dugout during the ninth inning of Game 4 of the Major League Baseball World Series against the Cleveland Indians, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

CHICAGO – Indians managing savant Terry Francona had been dominating this World Series with a near-perfect first four games of perfect planning and plotting. But now it was Joe Maddon’s turn to do his thing.

And Maddon, who had seemed to recede into the background while the Cubs struggled at the plate in games 1 through 4, pulled one out of his back of tricks. We all know the 100-mph-throwing Aroldis Chapman likes his innings clean, and he likes his innings one at a time. But Maddon, with perhaps equal parts inspiration and desperation, summoned Chapman with one on and one out in the seventh inning.

Chapman had eight outs to get, and the Indians, who don’t scare ever, weren’t going to make it easy on him.

But Chapman did it. He got his eight outs, four via strikeout. And the Cubs lived to see another day, with the 3-2 Cubs victory — not to mention the season — he saved. Game 6 is Tuesday in Cleveland.

“I talked to Chapman before the game, and he was aware of being ready in the seventh inning,” Maddon said after the game.

To get that many outs late, Maddon decided, in Maddon speak, was “pretty cool.”

Maddon, one of the better managers in the game, finally had his moment in the sun on this 40-degree game. Before Game 5, the Indians had controlled the action with their superb array of breaking pitches and solid play, and Francona had reminded us he is very likely the best in the game at what he does.

Maddon’s great season was built on some great slogans (“Embrace the Target), and a fantastic attitude that fit his young team. But nothing was doing through four games, and Maddon had to wait his turn.

“He stopped doing his thing because they were playing from behind,” one N.L. scout said. “They were a dead team.”

Not sure about that, but the young Cubs obviously needed some adjustments, and Cubs veterans Miguel Montero and David Ross suggested they need to stop pressing, and think about a little small ball following the Game 4 defeat that put them in a 3-to-1 hole.

Now they had to do their thing. After Kris Bryant’s home run off Trevor Bauer tied the score at 1 in the fourth the Cubs pushed across two runs, thanks to a swinging bunt, a regular bunt and a sacrifice fly by Ross himself, small ball was alive again. Ross had a big game in what may be the last game of his career, between his pitch calling, his pitch framing and the sac fly.

Ross was terrific.

And the Cubs kids were all right again.

But Maddon still needed to take his chance when the time came. And that meant Chapman, earlier than early.

Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman throws during the seventh inning of Game 5 of the Major League Baseball World Series =ai-Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

“That was a big ask, and he answered, kind of like Andrew (Miller has) done,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.

Francona answered a question about whether he was surprised to see Chapman so early by saying he never manages the other way, but pointing out, “Nobody’s ever running to the bat rack when Chapman’s coming into the game.”

In this postseason, the best managers have called upon their best relievers before the ninth inning (well, most of them). The Dodgers’ Dave Roberts did it with Kenley Jansen a few times. And Francona did it with the incomparable Andrew Miller every time.

Maddon isn’t a copycat. In reality, he just seems to have lost faith in usual set-up men Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop (either that, or they’ve run out of gas), and he needed to make sure they’d get back to Cleveland.

In any case, the reed-thin rookie Carl Edwards Jr. seems to be the primary set-up man. So after Maddon pulled postseason stalwart Jon Lester after a solid six, he employed Edwards. But only for an out.

And then in came Chapman, who was acquired for prime prospect Gleyber Torres and three others for just such an occasion.

Chapman is hard to hit. But he can be an adventure. He isn’t as good with men on base. He tends to throw some wild ones. And he doesn’t always field his position perfectly.

But he was good enough this time. He forgot to cover first base on what became a Rajai Davis hit. He hit a batter (that had to hurt!). But he endured.

And thus, so did the Cubs.

Notes on a scorecard from around the World Series & MLB …

— Kris Bryant, probable NL MVP, had a big game, with the home run that tied the score and a stolen base later. He is the first Cubs player to have a homer and stolen base in the same World Series Game.

— The talk before the game was about how the young Cubs were letting the pressure get to them. Not so for Indians star Francisco Lindor, who is 22 and playing carefree, great baseball. Alex Rodriguez says Lindor reminds him of Roberto Alomar, who was the same way as a kid helping the Blue Jays to two early titles. Rajai Davis remarked that Lindor is a young star without an ego, one who takes direction very well.

— “At some point, you have to start giving the Indians credit,” one rival GM said. “They steamrolled the Red Sox. They steamrolled the Blue Jays. And so far they’ve (outplayed) the Cubs.” No, time for credit indeed.

— Trevor Bauer was bothered by the bloody finger up until a couple days ago, when he declared while throwing a bullpen session to pitching coach Mickey Callaway that he was finally feeling OK. That may have been the moment where they decided to go with Bauer in Game 5 (though it seems they didn’t think the Cubs were a good matchup for Ryan Merritt for unknown reasons). Bauer did fair; he held the Cubs scoreless through the first three but allowed three runs in the fourth.

— For all the talk about starting pitching and rotation depth, bullpens have been kings in recent postseasons. The Royals started the trend, and the Indians are perfecting it. The pen of Andrew Miller, Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and Dan Otero have “stepped it up a notch,” Rajai Davis noted.

— Davis noted that his family was skeptical of his choice to come to the Indians. But they are all applauding that choice now.

— Jason Kipnis, from north suburban Northbrook, says his friends are rooting for the Cubs but also him. So after Game 4, they were “half happy,” says Kipnis, who had three big hits in the Indians’ win.

— The low-key Indians top front office duo of Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff, for the first time, had a Cleveland eatery recognize them and pick up the tab following the Game 1 win. Low key maybe, but man are they ever smart.

The Indians clubhouse follows suit.

“It’ a good, light atmosphere,” Rajai Davis noted.

— Reminder: The Indians were 28th in home attendance this year. That’s out of 30 teams.

— Jim Thome was sitting by the Indians dugout. Thome, a Peoria, Ill. product with Chicago ties, has no split allegiances.

“I grew up a Cubs fan. But my heart’s with the Indians.”

Thome was a star (one of many) on the ’95 and ’97 Indians teams that made it to the World Series and lost, allowing the drought to reach 68 years.

20 June 2015: Jim Thome is introduced as the 1995 Cleveland Indians American League Championship team is honored prior to the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH. Tampa Bay defeated Cleveland 4-1.

(Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire

— Josh Tomlin, Game 6 starter for the Indians, seems to be the consensus most popular player in there, and I can see why. What a nice young man he is. Tomlin somehow has managed to pitch great in the postseason after his father Jerry suffered an ailment that left him paralyzed from the chest down. Josh says they are going home to Whitehouse, Texas (outside Tyler) to help remodel the house to allow his father to get around before returning to Cleveland.

— Willson Contreras is a great talent, but one scout said he “looks like a novice” catching. The big problem, the scout said, is that he doesn’t center balls while catching them, leading to him yanking them out of the strike. That could explain some rough umpiring outings here.

— An NL scout says Jason Heyward needs to find the “shortest bat with the biggest head” because his swing is too long. The scout also said, “He needs to stop trying to be Darryl Strawberry. He’ll never be Darryl Strawberry.”

— Indians assistant GM Derek Falvey, who’s credited for being a big part of this championship, will soon get to work as chief baseball officer of the Twins, where he has a ton of work to do. The Twins need a lot of help, including the player development area. Their top prospects who came up to the big leagues haven’t looked ready in recent years. It was a rough year there. Even their top player, Brian Dozier, finished 1-for-34.

— Word going around now is that the Blue Jays want to bring back Edwin Encarnacion but seem ready to let Jose Bautista leave. The perceived stance on Bautista seems to be something of a switch, as a year ago he was seen as the preferred player of the two (though they always had interest in Encarnacion). Both will receive qualifying offers, and both are expected to decline.

— While the Jays are suggesting they are giving some thought to giving a qualifying offer to Michael Saunders, one rival puts that at: “no chance.” His suspect second half probably will indeed end that talk.

— A lot of eyes are on the White Sox, who have never really truly rebuilt but would seem to be a prime candidate for it, with some interesting pieces.

Of course, aces Chris Sale and Jose Quintana would draw any team interested in pitching (in other words, all 30 teams). But they also have Todd Frazier, who has a year to go before free agency. Sale, of course, would be the big one. It was reported in this space that the price was as many as five young players. One rival GM, though a fan of Sale (who isn’t?), opined, “I wouldn’t bet that price would be met.”

— Justin Turner’s free-agent case was helped by his big year, and probably also Martin Prado’s early $40 million, three-year deal with the Marlins, as Prado was the other starting quality third baseman headed for the market.

— A few teams are showing interest in Carlos Ruiz. The Dodgers could be ready to give the backup job to Austin Barnes, but they could still pick up Ruiz’s $4.25 million option, and think about trading him. Ruiz is popular as he’s great in the clubhouse, a good game caller and can still swing the bat.

October 13 2016: Los Angeles Dodgers Center field Joc Pederson (31) Los Angeles Dodgers Catcher Carlos Ruiz (51) celebrate at the end of game 5 of the NLDS at Nationals Park, in Washington D.C. The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Washington Nationals 4-3. to win the series. (Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire)

(Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire)

— The Dodgers noticed that Chase Utley wore down, but they like him on the team. So they could still consider a return for him. Though the presence of Howie Kendrick makes that less than a necessity.

— Don Wakamatsu will indeed interview with the Rockies and Diamondbacks. The Royals’ bench coach didn’t get a fair shake with the Mariners. He actually had a similar experience as Chip Hale in Arizona, a good first year followed by a rough second one. His second year was hampered by the end of Hall of Famer Ken Griffey’s career. It’s never easy to ease out a legend.

— The Red Sox have lost a lot of people, with Mike Hazen, Amiel Sawdaye, mental skills coach, doctor Dan Dyrek, numbers guy Tom Tippett, Steve Sanders and Mike Murav going. They don’t seem too worried, though.

— Seems like the BoSox are heading toward picking up Clay Buchholz’s $13.5 million option.

— The assumption is the Mets will pick up Jay Bruce’s $13 million option.

— The Hall of Fame Veterans Committee should be quite generous with its picks when it meets to consider five worthy execs/managers plus five players from the 1988-present era (Harold Baines, Will Clark, Mark McGwire, Orel Hershiser, Albert Belle, Bud Selig, George Steinbrenner, Lou Piniella, Davey Johnson and John Schuerholz).

The writers were probably too tough in voting when you consider there are twice as many Hall of Famers who debuted before 1950 as debuted after 1950 in the Hall of Fame (143 to 74) even though there are twice as many players who played the required 10 years who debuted after 1950 as compared to before 1950 (2,186 to 1,103). So it’s been four times as hard to make the Hall of Fame in the last 66 years. Which isn’t right.

— Next year, players who could be on the Veterans Committee ballot include Jack Morris, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Dwight Evans, Dave Parker, Dave Concepcion and Steve Garvey, among others. Morris, who should be in (in my opinion), says “I’m at peace.”

Tom Gage of the Detroit News did research saying that of all pitchers, ranking their top 14 seasons, Morris ranked sixth.

Morris seems more interested in Trammell.

“I’d never be half of what I was without Tram,” Morris said. (I switched to vote yes on Trammell the last few years after voting no originally).

The one non-Tiger Morris can’t believe didn’t get more support is Lee Smith. (I have never voted for Smith, though believe now we should have voted more in.)

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Heyman: Wakamatsu to interview with Rockies and D-backs


June 16, 2014 - Detroit, MI

Kansas City Royals bench coach Don Wakamatsu (22) during the game on Monday evening, Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan.

Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers

Don Wakamatsu, emerging as a hot managerial candidate, has managerial interviews with the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks, according to sources.

Wakamatsu, the bench coach of the Kansas City Royals since 2014, managed the Seattle Mariners for 2009 and most of 2010. Many people were impressed by his smarts, and some others thought he got a raw deal.

In his first season with the Mariners, Seattle finished 85-77. He was fired in the middle of the 2010 season after a 42-70 start.

Wakamatsu, also a former Toronto Blue Jays bench coach, New York Yankees scout and Chicago White Sox catcher, is a key man under Ned Yost and has been part of the Royals’ two World Series appearances.

The Rockies have had several men tied to that open job, including Tim Wallach, Glenallen Hill, Brad Mills, Bud Black, Dave Martinez and Sandy Alomar Jr. Martinez, Mills and Alomar would have to wait until after the World Series to interview.

The Rockies are looking for a new manager after Walt Weiss stepped down after four seasons. Colorado finished 75-87 this season.

The Diamondbacks are interviewing Alex Cora, as was first reported on Today’s Knuckleball. Phil Nevin also has been tied to that job. Torey Lovullo, who has strong ties to new D-backs GM Mike Hazen, is seen as the favorite.

The D-backs need a new manager after Chip Hale was fired following a 69-93 record. The D-backs also let go of general manager Dave Stewart. Hale has since moved on to the Oakland Athletics as the third base coach.

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Heyman – Montero’s message to Cubs teammates: ‘Just chill’


15 October 2015: Chicago Cubs catcher Miguel Montero (47) celebrates after hitting a grand slam during the eighth inning in game one of the National League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire)

CHICAGO — The young everyday guys have carried the Cubs everyday machine all year. But right now, they are collectively slumping, and the few older guys understand why.

“I feel like they’re trying to do too much,” veteran Miguel Montero said of the young Cubs. “They’re all trying to be the hero.”

Montero said he can see it, right there on their faces.

“You can see a lot of frustration in the first at-bat,” Montero said. “You have to take one at-bat at a time. I tell them to just chill. You might get the biggest at-bat of the game.”

Montero struggled as a bench player this year but hit a grand slam to win Game 1 of the NLCS and hit a 99-mph rocket off the Indians’ incomparable lefty Andrew Miller in Game 3 with a chance at a run in the 1-0 defeat.

The kids, they are all struggling now. Willson Contreras struck out three times in the 7-2 defeat in Game 4, Javier Baez is starting to swing wildly again, and Kris Bryant and Addison Russell were hitless in Game 4, too. Of course, they were going against Indians ace Corey Kluber plus Miller for eight of the nine innings. But the vets on this team see the pressure surfacing.

“They’re all trying to hit a grand slam with nobody on,” Montero said. “It’s not going to happen. You need to do the little things. We don’t need to launch the ball at a 110-degree angle. We have to hit the ball in the hole. We have to play small ball.”

David Ross, the other veteran catcher, sees some of the same things.

“I don’t think we’ve been able to slow the moment down at times,” Ross said. “I saw our at-bats get better tonight. But we’re not staying in our approach … I feel like we’re pressing a little bit.”

It takes time, Montero said.

“It’s a learning process,” he said. “But it’s reality. You’re going to try to do too much. Just chill. I know it’s the World Series. But you can’t change the at-bat. The only thing you can do is change the next at-bat… You’ve got to be positive. Sometimes I feel like we’re pressing, and saying, ‘I’ve got to get a hit.’”

Montero is keeping a positive attitude in any case.

“It’s not going to be easy. But it’s not impossible,” Montero said. “It’s not where we want to be, but it’s reality. We’re not in a perfect place. But I believe in every guy in this clubhouse. Just chill.”

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Source: Knuckleball