Justin Upton and His No-Trade Clause

By Blaidd Drwg

I honestly believe the Mariners are trying to get better, just not trying as hard as they should. Once again they don’t do anything in the free agent market (although I still think they are going to ultimately sign Michael Bourn to a Chone Figgins like contract and get Chone Figgins like production) and their big trade this off-season was Jason Vargas for Kendrys Morales, which succeeded in making the logjam at C-1B-DH even worse.

I read recently that they made a pitch for the D’Backs Justin Upton. They supposedly offered a “substantial package” to the Diamondbacks (I am guessing at least one of Paxton-Walker-Hultzen and probably Nick Franklin and some other prospects) for the 25 year old OF, who is under contract until the end of 2015 at an average salary of $13 million per season, but the trade was rejected by Upton, who currently has a no-trade clause to 4 teams – Seattle, Toronto, Boston and Chicago Cubs.

Ok, I can understand the not wanting to be traded to Seattle or Toronto, but Boston and Chicago? Two of the biggest markets in sports and two of the better hitting stadiums in the league – I would think that he would jump at the opportunity, but I guess not.

Meanwhile, we will just have to sit in Safeco field enjoying Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez do their best to show us how not to play left field.

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

By Blaidd Drwg

Way back in January, after a spending binge, I wrote a scathing article and my prediction for the future of the Florida Miami Marlins. As a refresher, here is what I wrote:

My prediction is the circus in South Florida yields a .500 team this season and they are breaking the team up by June of next year.

I think I was harsher than most people on the future of the Marlins; most people predicted them to be a contender for the playoffs. Now that the season is over, I find myself thinking I was overly optimistic – the Marlins managed a stellar 69-93 record, traded Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez and ultimately fired Ozzie Guillen. They then kicked-off the hot stove league by dealing Heath Bell to Arizona. I wasn’t as far off as I could have been.

I also wrote this nugget of wisdom:

It gets really ugly in 2014 for the Marlins. On top of the salaries above, their 2 best pitchers, Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco, are both free agents in 2014, Hanley Ramirez is scheduled to make 16 million and their stud first baseman, Mike Stanton, is eligible for arbitration. Just counting Reyes, Buehrle, Bell and Ramirez, the team is on the hook for 59 million in payroll. Heck, for 2013, the Marlins are projected to be somewhere between 125 and 145 million for payroll, which I don’t think is going to happen. I think we are going to see a repeat of a disturbing trend that has been there since the beginning in South Florida – owner bumps up the payroll to a long term unsustainable level to make a World Series run, sells off the players returning the team to mediocrity and then sell the team.

Flash forward to Wednesday and you have this come across the wire:

The Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to a multiple-player trade that would send shortstop Jose Reyes and pitcher Josh Johnson to Toronto, sources told ESPN. Also going to Toronto would be pitcher Mark Buehrle, catcher John Buck and infielder-outfielder Emilio Bonifacio.

So, the Marlins have just basically reduced their payroll from about 125 million in 2013 to about 35 million. Sure as hell sounds like history repeating itself. The Marlins are receiving a bunch of prospects (most of whom are at least 2-3 years from having a shot at making the big club), noted bigot SS Yunel Escobar and spare part catcher in Jeff Mathis back from the Jays, and, as far as I can tell, the Jays are assuming all of the salaries they are acquiring. You think Albert Pujols is glad he didn’t sign with the Marlins now?

Lost in all of this is Giancarlo Stanton, the lone remaining Marlins player with any real talent. He is a little put out by this move:

“Alright, I’m pissed off!!! Plain & Simple,” Stanton tweeted.

I have a feeling that Stanton will not be sticking around beyond 2013 since he is then arbitration eligible and will be in line for a big payday.

My favorite quote to come out of this was from douchebag Marlins GM Larry Beinfest:

“We’ve kind of lost our Marlins way,” president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said less than two weeks ago. “The real Marlins way was we always outperformed our challenges. Whatever our challenges were, whether it was playing in a football stadium or weather or a lack of fans, or lack of revenue for that matter, we always found a way to outperform our challenges.”

What he really means is: “The Marlins way is to be as cheap as possible and not actually care about the team or the city, despite the good folks of Miami giving us a shiny 400 million dollar ballpark on their dime.”

Actually, this isn’t so much the Marlins way as the Beinfest/Loria way. In case you are unaware, Jeff Loria was the owner of the Montreal Expos who basically ran the team into the ground so that he could get a huge payout from MLB, oh and a shiny new team in Miami.

The Dwight Howard Trade, Or, Be Careful What You Wish For

by A.J. Coltrane
Dwight Howard finally got what he wanted. Out.
I think there’s a broad public perception that Howard is the best center in the league right now, and by extension that makes him one of the All Time Greats. What’s the reaction going to be when he’s exposed as not really being at that level? He’s not Kareem or Wilt or Shaq… Dwight is basically Patrick Ewing minus some offense, and Patrick wasn’t quite good enough to bring a title to New York. Will Lakers’ fans turn on him in three years when they haven’t won a championship? At that point Kobe and Nash will be retired or nearly so, and Gasol will be pretty old. Then what?
A more immediate concern:  Dwight, Kobe, Nash, Gasol — who is the Lakers’ best player and who takes the shots when it matters? Kobe is still going to be the alpha dog, and I’m going to bet he continues to take the shots for the next couple of years, though I don’t think his body will allow him to “finish” games at an elite level; I think those days have already come and gone. Who’s going to take the blame when the Lakers can’t quite get there? It won’t be Kobe.
There’s also the little issue that the Lakers’ have a really old backcourt. Who guards Russell Westbrook? Or Derrick Rose? Or Chris Paul? Or Dwayne Wade? Or…
What it comes down to (and this is what Carmelo Anthony is running into in New York), is the question:  “With Dwight Howard as your best player, can you win a championship?” The jury is still out on Carmelo (though I’m of the firm opinion that the answer is “No”.) 
I think that the answer for Howard is “no” as well.
Item That Really Only Fits As Sort Of A Postscript: 
I think it’s interesting that nobody wanted to join Howard in Orlando. Why do you figure that is?
In other news:  Finaaallly, the trade is done, and we can talk about something, anything, else.
Bill Simmons, of course, has this terrific take on it. He’s more of the opinion that it’s a huge win for the Lakers, though he also includes this bit:
“…In April, after the Lakers win 65 games and everyone is getting psyched for a Heat-Lakers Finals, nobody will care that Howard acted like such a big baby. We’ll be busy with crap like ranking him against the other great Lakers centers of all time. That’s just how sports works.
(Well, unless the 2013 Lakers don’t realize their potential. And then? Get ready for chaos.)”
[There are some similar thoughts to mine in the Simmons piece. fwiw – I wrote my bit, then read his.]
[Late edit:  Vegas loved the trade too — the Lakers leapfrogged the Thunder and into the second best odds of a 2013 championship, behind only the Heat.]