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hot stove season opens with a papelbang

in honor of the opening of the offseason, i would like to state that i am, in fact, in the best shape of my life.*

*this is possibly true. low bar and whatnot.

the philadelphia phillies celebrated the opening of hot stove season by promising to pay jonathan papelbon $50 million over the next four years, with a vesting option for a fifth year. when papelbon's agent explained to him that this was, in fact, a lot of money,* jon was very pleased. while papelbon is probably the best closer candidate free agent out there,** he is still only the best closer out there.

*a million, papelbon learned when he inquired, is bigger that a hundred but less than a zillion.
**see above comment regarding low bars and largely sedentary 30-somethings.
there's no particular reason to think that this is a good way to spend money, especially if you're a club with terrible infield depth, a shortstop who is a free agent, a gap in the outfield, a fairly terrible backend of the bullpen,* and a first baseman likely to spend half the season on the DL and the other half being not very good with a terrible platoon split.** there's also the problem of the phillies just getting really old across the board and committing to a 30-year-old closer for four years.

*assuming they won't sign madson also, the only non-replacement value reliever left on the squad is bastardo.

**if the phils wanted to pick up a 1B/DH type, why would they pick up left-handed jim thome? howard's career wOBA v. LHP: .323.

elsewhere, the rest of the baseball world seems to be willing to wait out the early days of the free agent market. the marlins invited both jose reyes and albert pujols to visit them as they relocate from florida to miami.

In the non-snark division, the good news is that the Nats catcher is alive and out of the clutches of his captors.

I thought Bernie Miklasz offered a particularly thoughtful insight into the managerial search, one which I suspect has more than a little truth to it. Earlier this week, he published an article suggesting that, if the Cardinals went with someone other than Francona on the manager front, it could reflect a concern about Mozeliak finally actually seizing control of the operations of the club.

Francona would come to the club with two World Series rings and years of major league managing. Like Tony, if he went to DeWitt or to the media and said he needed a RH pinch-hitter or a particular left-handed reliever, they'd listen. If Matheny says the same thing, I doubt it garners the same respect. Also, Francona would come to the table at best indifferent to Mozeliak's influence. He wouldn't feel he owed Mozeliak anything. Contrast that with how Matheny would feel, never having held a significant managerial role.

If you were John Mozeliak, would you value gratitude and deference? Would you - especially in light of your last four years in the job - value having someone view you as an authority figure rather than an obstacle? I think it very likely - and perhaps I am projecting my own prejudices onto the managerial search - that the management decision will be less about any applicant's opinion on sac bunting than about the future of the club and the role of the GM and the manager going forward.

In the unlikely event that Francona is hired - and his comments after the interview about the "casual" getting-to-know-each-other nature of the interview did nothing to dispel my suspicions - I wonder if that might reflect misgivings on DeWitt's part about letting Mozeliak really run the club, as much as respect for Francona's record.

Much more likely, we will see one of the five other candidates without managerial experience step forward to claim the role. Which is fine with me - I don't know enough about any of their philosophies to be for or against them. I think Mozeliak is now - with several years experience and a World Series to his credit - in a much better position to really seize the reins, in a way he plainly could not do with Tony La Russa in place.