Executives chime in on offseason topics
Sign Holliday or Bay? Should instant replay be expanded? And where will Lackey land?
CHICAGO -- Major League Baseball general managers have a demanding job marked by long hours, stifling pressure and constant second-guessing. So they welcome the opportunity to meet after the World Series each November to bond between salary-arbitration seminars and rules committee updates.This year, the Hawaiian shirts and fun extracurricular stuff are missing. As a concession to the difficult economic times, the 2009 meetings will take place at the Chicago Hilton O'Hare rather than a posh warm-weather resort. The list of attendees is streamlined, the meetings run a day shorter and executives will leave their golf clubs at home. Given the state of the economy, the last thing MLB needs is reporters tweeting about $479-a-night hotel rooms and $25 endive salads by the pool. Did somebody say "AIG"? That doesn't mean life will be dull in Chicago. Mark Teahen, J.J. Hardy, Jeremy Hermida, Carlos Gomez and Akinori Iwamura all have been traded in the past week, and Cliff Lee and Brandon Webb just had their 2010 club options exercised. That's merely an appetizer for the long, hot stove winter ahead. What else is on the horizon? With the meetings scheduled to begin Monday, ESPN.com polled 20 general managers, assistant GMs, personnel people and scouts via e-mail on eight questions that will dominate the news during the next few weeks. The survey respondents answered on the condition of anonymity, and several explained the reasons behind their thinking. Here are the results of the poll:
Do you think there should be expanded use of instant replay in baseball? And will it happen in 2010?
“"The playoffs were a mess," a National League general manager said. "There is no reason not to have a replay ump upstairs." A second GM agreed but said he expects no action on replay in 2010. "That speaks to a real lack of vision and leadership at the commissioner's office," he said. Several executives favor an NFL-style challenge system if managers want to see a play reviewed. But even staunch replay advocates concede it's a momentous change with a lot of factors to be considered. Judging from our survey responses, commissioner Bud Selig isn't the only traditionalist who's wary of technological overload. "Right or wrong, the human element should remain a part of the game," an AL executive said. "Umpires aren't missing more calls, but the widespread use of technology just makes each mistake more obvious to the world."
The playoffs were a mess. There is no reason not to have a replay ump upstairs.” -- A National League general manager
Where will John Lackey, the top starting pitcher on the market, sign in the winter? For how many years and how much money?
Where will Aroldis Chapman sign? For how many years and how much money?
“Although the scouts love Chapman's arm, some teams have concerns about his maturity, his command, his feel for his secondary pitches and his ability to learn on the fly. "You wonder if he's just a [radar] gun guy," a National League scout said. "The expectations are going to be so high, but he might have to be developed like he's a high school or college kid." Chapman's upside is undeniable, but patience will be part of the equation. It won't shock some people if he winds up in the bullpen eventually. "There's a lot of risk here," an AL personnel man said. "He's got a great arm, but he's far from a finished product as far as command and pitchability."
There's a lot of risk here. He's got a great arm, but he's far from a finished product as far as command and pitchability.” -- An American League personnel man on Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman