There are 168 free agents available so far, according to the most recent press release distributed by the Major League Baseball Players Association. But you might not be hearing as much buzz about them if agents and club executives stick to the rules agreed to by the Players Association and Major League Baseball.
According to agents and executives familiar with the mandate, new guidelines have been put in place designed to restrict the amount of negotiating that goes on through the media.
Both sides would have some motivation for this. Team executives are furious when their clubs are wrongly portrayed as having interest in a given free agent. At the same time, agents get angry when clubs illuminate their position on a given player for reporters, believing that this practice is a form of collusion.
What the precise rules are, and how they would be policed or enforced, are not known. E-mails that were sent to high-ranking officials within the players' association and Major League Baseball late Thursday were not immediately returned.
On the face of it, a media clampdown might seem to be a worthy goal for the two sides, but impractical in the face of how reporters and their sources communicate. If an agent for a given player or a club executive feels a need to address the negotiations for a given player, all he has to do to cover his own tracks and create deniability is use these two words: "On background."
And the mechanism by which the players' association and MLB would investigate media leaks is unknown; maybe these are rules put in place that both sides want the participants to enforce on their own, like an honor code.
Maybe the greatest indication we could see that the rules are actually working would be if we never saw another "mystery team" tied to a Scott Boras client.
The other day, I was fortunate enough to meet Kyle Maynard, a remarkable person without hands or feet who has chased his dream of becoming an MMA fighter, and he said something interesting: Every time you have negative thoughts, you are fueling your opponent. This was not a problem for Sparky Anderson, who has passed away at age 76.
I dealt with Anderson a few times before he retired, and a few times afterward, and in each case he was warm and generous. It was evident that he was a happy person: happy in his work, in his interaction with others, even within his most mundane obligations. Sparky seemed to draw all that he could out of his life.
Here's what Ernie Harwell wrote about Sparky. He touched others outside of baseball, writes Jo-Ann Barnas. Bud Selig noted that Anderson would not miss the Hall of Fame ceremony, as John Lowe writes. Lynn Henning is thankful for the time spent with Sparky.
Here are some little-known facts about Sparky. Baseball has lost one of its greats, writes Tom Gage. Sparky was one of the best, writes Tim Sullivan. Thomas Boswell has Sparky reflections here. Baseball has lost something great, writes Joe Henderson.
Managers with 2,000 wins in MLB history:
1. Connie Mack: 3,731
2. John McGraw: 2,763
3. Tony La Russa: 2,638
4. Bobby Cox: 2,504
5. Joe Torre: 2,326
6. Sparky Anderson: 2,194
7. Bucky Harris: 2,158
8. Joe McCarthy: 2,125
9. Walter Alston: 2,130
10. Leo Durocher: 2,008
He used to hang out at HoJo's, writes Richard Justice.
The Jeter situation
If you think the Yankees are ready to shower tens of millions of dollars on Derek Jeter because they did so with Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera three winters ago, well, it's worth remembering the context.
It was in the fall of 2007 that the Steinbrenner sons first became the public faces of the franchise, as their aging father retreated -- and it was in those first days that the relationship between the team and Joe Torre fractured. Torre seized the public-relations high ground on his way out the door, and the Steinbrenner sons were immediately the targets of much public criticism. Torre spoke of being shoved out by faces he didn't know -- the Steinbrenner sons.
So the pressure on Hal and Hank was immediate and overpowering -- they then went above and beyond to re-sign Rodriguez, Posada and Rivera. Way above and beyond. Executives within the industry believe the Yankees probably gave Rodriguez at least $100 million more than any team would have been willing to offer, and that under normal circumstances, the Yankees would have held the line on the Posada negotiations at a three-year offer, rather than four. There were folks with the Yankees' baseball operations who would have preferred to just let Rodriguez and Posada move on, rather than overpay them.