The Nub

Switching Positions and Its Possible Perils

Spring training has barely begun, generic but the media – normally positive now – have expressed skepticism about the ability of one key player to field his new position.. He’s Wil Myers, illness ticketed to play center field for the revamped Padres. Press box observers note that the former Ray has played only a shaky right field in his first two MLB seasons. In Petco Park, illness Myers will have a huge expanse of terrain to cover and be expected to get to balls out of the reach of less-than-sprightly flanking fielders Justin Upton and Matt Kemp. Although not as crucial to team prospects, similar defense-related doubts in this period of optimism have been raised about two other position-switchers: Hanley Ramirez, moving from shortstop with the Dodgers to left field for the Red Sox, and former third baseman Pedro Alvarez, taking over at first for the Pirates. Neither has shown, as of yet, that they can handle their new roles.

Whether another would-be switcher, in this case, in federal law enforcement, would be up to prosecutorial play at the top of that game is still to be resolved. Loretta Lynch could well be approved as next attorney general, succeeding “too big to prosecute” exponent Eric Holder. It was he, remember, who punished Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase and the Citigroup for making fraudulent sub-prime loans. His penalty included letting implicated execs off the hook, instead imposing slap-on-the-wrist fines.

Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi birddogged the story: “Citi ended up broke and throwing itself at the taxpayer’s ankles. It ended up receiving the single largest federal bailout, around $476 billion in cash and federal guarantees. Why bring this up now? Because…the investigation into that bank, and the subsequent whitewashing deal, was led by…a prosecutor with a reputation for being a highly professional, old-school law-and-order type: Lynch.   Many lawyers who’ve dealt with Lynch describe being impressed by her professionalism and her fairness…But it’s important to understand, as Lynch staggers toward approval for (the AG) job, that she was part of a Justice Department enforcement policy that for years dealt out soft landings for the very companies that have… made the term ‘Too Big to Jail’ famous.”

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The Latest Phenom? The Red Sox have won what amounted to an auction, agreeing to pay a record $31.5 million to sign 19-year-old Cuban infielder Yoan Moncado. Most observers are convinced Moncado has the makings of a phenom; the only question – which team would pay big to add him to their backlog of prospects – has been answered. On MLB-TV last night, Peter Gammons said the addition of Moncado is a further sign the Red Sox are determined to have the deepest farm system in the game. Other press boxers suggest that Moncado could be playing at Fenway long before season’s end.

One Way of Summing Up…the current saga in Yankee-land: “This will be the third straight spring — and possibly season — in which a dubious Yankees on-field product is overshadowed. The past two years it was by the glorious exits of Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter. Now, it is the hissing re-entry of A-Rod. – Joel Sherman, NY Post

Adrift: Two former Yankee relievers cut loose by the Tigers, lefty Phil Coke and Joba Chamberlain, are still unsigned after disappointing 2014 seasons in Detroit. The Rangers reportedly offered Coke, a minor league deal, which he declined. Coke will turn 33 this summer, while Chamberlain is just 29. Both had similar stats last season, except for W-L. Coke was 5-2, Chamberlain 2-5. Still, because of his age and superior velocity, Joba seems a surer bet to be signed to a major league contract. .

Sensitive Issue: At his news conference yesterday, Commissioner Rob Manfred was asked about his focus on getting young people interested in the game. The questioner suggested the possibility of arranging daytime scheduling of an event like the All Star game. Manfred ignored that modest idea, talking instead about attracting kids to play the game. “That way we’ll get them to become fans. We like fans.”

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

 

About Richard Starkey

Dick Starkey handled media for former NY Governor Mario Cuomo, former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and many other office-holders and candidates. He was sports editor of the Paris-based Herald Tribune. Perfect Pitch partner Robert Sullivan was the first to adapt focus groups to politics and has been called by Cuomo and others one of the "best" pollsters in the country.