Updates on Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson (cont.)
Wilson called Texas "a great place to play'' but also didn't sound like he was ruling out the other 29 places. Rangers people could see the quirky Californian going back home. But there will be many options considering the paucity of available reliable starters.
Wilson maintains he's totally focused on the Rangers' team result, and that mindset has enabled him to put himself in an enviable position with a big regular season, which included a 16-7 record to go with a 2.94 ERA pitching in one of the worst parks for pitchers. He mentioned in a brief chat with SI.com that he doesn't have a wife, a child or a dog, which means he is truly a free agent. He also said he learned a lesson from 10 years ago when he wound up being a fifth round draft choice rather than a first or second because he focused on the draft his junior year and tensed up. This time, he ably matched up with the aces around the American League over the full season.
Truly, he could wind up almost anywhere. It's easy to envision the Huntington Beach product doing some California dreaming (when asked in the press conference Sunday about his impending free agency, he said he turns off to the point where he doesn't let it register and pictures himself surfing) but he will draw interest from all over, presumably including the Yankees, Red Sox, Nationals, Marlins and Royals.
A Rangers person said he heard Yankees bigwigs Brian Cashman and Billy Eppler love Wilson (though for the record, a Yankees official suggested they are interested but don't believe he's an ace). The Yankees clearly are monitoring the situation, but they were disappointed to learn this week he is no longer dating a New York-residing girlfriend.
"I was dating a supermodel,'' Wilson said. "We broke up in July.'' He said they are still on good terms. But that still isn't what the Yankees were hoping to hear.
It is fair to say he is a true free agent any way you measure it.
Folks seem to think the Orioles GM job will come down to Tony La Cava and Jerry DiPoto. One person familiar with the situation said he wouldn't be shocked if La Cava gets the job. First, DiPoto is also in the running for the Angels job. Second, Buck Showalter, who is wielding the power in Baltimore, is a great admirer of how the Blue Jays are doing things (though he is also on very good terms with DiPoto). It's a job some aren't excited about because of the history of losing and of owner Peter Angelos' over-involvement. One person who knows Showalter said he sees Buck moving to the front office eventually.
There is no official word on whether the Angels still have any chance to lure Rays GM Andrew Friedman. But at the very least, it would appear he hasn't jumped at the job since the Angels are interviewing a slew of others. White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn would be a terrific choice. But he has turned down some GM chances before, and some say they may be looking for a scouting type, which might favor Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer, who had the brilliant 2006 draft with 10 future big leaguers including Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson. Their list is impressive, with Thad Levine (who helped build the Rangers), Omar Mianya, DiPoto, Kim Ng and Eppler among others also in play.
The Padres will receive compensation for allowing Jed Hoyer go to Chicago to join Cubs savior Theo Epstein as his GM. But Padres owner Jeff Moorad is a great admirer of Josh Byrnes, his former Diamondbacks GM, who he is elevating to the GM spot, so Moorad is fine with the arrangement. The Diamondbacks also are happy because the Padres will now presumably have to pay all or almost all of Byrnes' Diamondbacks contract since it was Moorad himself who signed Byrnes through 2015 in Arizona.
The Boston Globe suggested the Red Sox would be interested in John Farrell for manager if the Blue Jays were to let them interview him. The Cubs might be, too. Farrell's son pitches at Northwestern, which is near Chicago. Still seems unlikely Toronto would let him go. While Rays owner Stu Sternberg generally has an open door policy, he said he might not be so open to letting Boston talk to beloved manager Joe Maddon. Maddon has one year left at about $1.4 million and is in line for a big raise from the revenue-challenged franchise. Maddon is absolutely beloved by Sternberg, which is no surprise.
Reggie Jackson's three homer feat in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series was more dramatic and memorable than Pujols' incredible night, and thus the bigger performance. "I was very fortunate mine happened in the last game and came on the stage in New York,'' said Jackson, who gushed over the greatness of Pujols. "I admire the way he goes about it,'' said Mr. October. "His whole career has been amazing. You have to go back to Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mays and Aaron to see that total domination.''
Word is, prospective Astros owner Jim Crane wants a $50 million discount to have to move to the American League. He didn't even have the votes to become owner a few weeks ago, which was what delayed the vote, and he can't be helping matters with the requested discount (though most think he will eventually be approved). Meanwhile, current Astros owner Drayton McLane is desperate for the sale to Crane to go through. It's not like the Dodgers, which would inspire folks to line up to but them. Crane was the one fellow willing to pay $600 million for the struggling franchise.
The Astros did a smart thing adding Bryan Lambe to their scouting staff. The Phillies called Lambe, but he had just given his word he'd take the Astros job. So Houston finally got one over on the Phillies.
MLB is "concerned'' about some Red Sox players drinking in the clubhouse (even if they didn't drink on the bench, as they said in a statement). In any case, the concern isn't going to be something that helps Terry Francona get a job soon. The only other managerial openings are in Boston and presumably Chicago's North Side, where incoming club president Theo Epstein won't be hiring Francona.
Rafael Furcal hasn't hurt himself with a decent postseason. "Baseball is crazy. You never know what team will sign you. I wish I stay here,'' Furcal said. Furcal's average was lingering in Mendoza territory but the Cardinals were thrilled to snap him up at the deadline. "We made that decision mostly on scouting. We had a couple guys on him,'' Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said. That trade, plus the one with the Blue Jays that revamped the bullpen, catapulted the Cardinals into position to perhaps win another World Series.
Josh Hamilton seemed to be getting around a bit better in Game 4, and he hit two balls hard Sunday including an RBI double in the 4-0 Rangers win. He suspects he has a sports hernia but won't have the MRI done to confirm it until the World Series is over. One AL exec said he thought before the game that Hamilton should volunteer to move down in the order. It isn't manager Ron Washington's style to diss a player like that, even a hurt player.
Rangers people to a man understood that Game 4 was near to a must win. Winning three straight against the Cardinals with Chris Carpenter going Monday and Games 6 and 7 in St. Louis would have been almost impossible.
Cardinals players were very impressed by Rangers Game 4 starter Derek Holland's stuff and command. Holland said he could be ready to pitch in relief in Game 6 or 7 but doubted Washington would start him in Game 7 on three days' rest.