Like some other teams in Major League Baseball, the Cardinals opted not to invest in a proven closer for the 2012 season.
General manager John Mozeliak seems ready to roll with Jason Motte, backed by Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez and perhaps Lance Lynn as well.
Such a tactic puzzles superagent Scott Boras, who was unable to get a multi-year deal for his client Ryan Madson. Reds GM Walt Jocketty landed Madson with a one-year deal that might be the steal of winter.
“As many as eight major league teams have taken great risk in the closer role,” Boras told ESPN. “The game has shown many times that teams need closers with the efficiency to (convert) 85 percent of their save opportunities and the durability to make 60 appearances. Numerous teams didn't follow those metrics as a criteria for a closer this offseason. They turned their back on the closer role.”
Boras is still stinging from his inability to close a four-year, $44 million deal for Madson to remain in Philadelphia.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. discussed such a deal for Madson, then switched gears and signed Jonathan Papelbon instead. Perhaps the Phillies grew tired of bidding against unnamed and perhaps fictional rivals.
“It's very simple,” Boras said. “We never rejected any offer from Philadelphia at four years and $44 million. We advised Philadelphia that we would agree to such a proposal. And Philadelphia decided upon hearing that to go in a different direction.”
Some pundits wonder if GMs are colluding against Boras clients such as Prince Fielder this winter. A more likely explanation is that teams have decided to set their own valuation on players and not budge off them, irregardless of what “mystery teams” were willing to pay.
REALITY SMACKS MANRAM HARD
The same market forces that conspired against Boras clients may also keep disgraced slugger Manny Ramirez from getting another chance at the age of 39.
ManRam made a public plea for employment via ESPN.
“I want to show people that Manny can change, that he can do the right thing,” Ramirez told reporter Pedro Gomez. “And to show people that I still can play. I don't want to leave the game like I did. I also want to show my kids that if you make a mistake, don't quit. Just go back and fix it. And if you're going to leave, leave the right way.”
Yeah, well, let us know how that works out.
MYSTERIES OF THE UNIVERSE
Questions to ponder while wondering Mizzou coach Frank Haith didn’t use borrowed tight end Andrew Jones to perform Hack-a-Shaq duties on Royce White:
Where would the Tigers be if Steve Moore didn't come up so large as a senior?
If pro teams had suggestion boxes, what sort of suggestions would they receive?
QUIPS ‘R US
Here is what some of America’s leading sports pundits have been writing:
Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle: “Albert Pujols scored several perks with his $240 mil contract, including four Angels season tickets. It takes chutzpah to be an agent. I can picture Pujols' agent at the climax of the negotiations. ‘We're close, but one more thing: Along with the four seats, Albert will need complimentary nachos. With jalapenos.’”
Greg Cote, Miami Herald: “While we were obsessed with Jeff Fisher's Dolphins/Rams waffling, an intense rivalry added another intriguing layer of heat today with the news that dumped Dolphins coach Tony Sparano had arisen as Jets' offensive coordinator. Not surprised Sparano found work quickly; am surprised it is at the coordinator level. Good move for Sparano personally. He's a Northeast guy, from Connecticut, Mets fans, sons played at Albany, looks the part. Also a good move professionally I think. He's in a division coaching against a lousy Patriots defense, a lousy Bills team, and the ex's he thinks fired him prematurely. Plus Rex Ryan loves to tweak teams in his division and this, make no mistake, is a tweak at Miami. Negatives? He inherits a mini-mess with sniping about QB Mark Sanchez. And the New York media market will make we in South Florida seem like a welcome wagon.”
Gregg Doyel, CBSSports.com: “As if the Jets could be even more dislikeable, we have this: Multiple players ripping starting quarterback Mark Sanchez in the most gutless way possible. No, not on Twitter. See, using Twitter would have required attaching their name to it. The Jets? They ripped Sanchez anonymously through the New York Daily News. And this is not me defending Sanchez. It's not. He could well be 'lazy,' as one gutless wonder told the newspaper. He could be a 'baby,' as another gutless Jet said. It's entirely possible that 'he goes in a hole when someone tells him the truth,' as someone sniveled. But there's a right way to do things, and a wrong way, and damn if the Jets don't take the wrong way every ... single ... time."
Michael Silver, Yahoo! Sports: “Some owners’ offspring, such as the Patriots’ Jonathan Kraft, the Cincinnati Bengals’ Katie Blackburn and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Art Rooney II, are shrewd, engaged presences entrusted to operate their respective franchises at the highest levels. Others, such as the Indianapolis Colts’ Jimmy Irsay and the 49ers’ Jed York, inherit ownership and obviously outshine their parents. Mark Davis is Tommy Boy, trying not to face-plant on a table full of beers. And the thought of presiding over a team with a brash, intelligent and charismatic coach who knew how dismissively his father used to treat him had to be a daunting prospect.”
Rick Reilly, ESPN.com: “(Kobe) Bryant remains an irresistible force of nature, like an avalanche or Justin Bieber. He is 33, and only his conscience can stop him. Luckily for Kobephiles, he doesn't have one. He'll play 66 games in 123 days this season, and even that won't persuade him to stop flying into the lane and adding to his contusion collection.”
“Joe Flacco, he's our quarterback. He's the Ravens quarterback. We think he's a great player, a great person. And the best is yet to come. Joe is like every quarterback. You watch the curve and you watch him develop and grow. We've all had a front-row seat. You see the good, you see the not so good, like with any player. Joe's been overwhelmingly good, and he's only going to get better. I can't wait to see it. I'm looking forward to seeing it on Sunday.”
— Ravens coach John Harbaugh.