Buck Showalter has 1,551 managerial wins — 24th all-time in MLB — and claims three manager of the year awards. What the former Mississippi State star doesn’t have is a World Series ring. He might get a chance – a good chance, actually — to pick one up in 2020. Showalter has interviewed for the Houston Astros job and would appear to be one of the top candidates to replace A.J. Hinch, fired this week in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal. The Astros, 2017 world champs and 2019 American League champs, still have a loaded lineup and rate as one of the early favorites to win the 2020 Series. Showalter, 63, has managed four different teams and had success at each stop. He took three of the four to the postseason, making five trips all told in 20 years. His 2014 Baltimore club reached the AL Championship Series, falling to Kansas City. Showalter is the second-winningest manager in Orioles history – behind only Earl Weaver – but his nine-year tenure in Baltimore ended with a crash in 2018; he was fired after a gutted club finished 47-115. … John Gibbons, the former Jackson Mets catcher and ex-Toronto Blue Jays manager, is also a candidate for the Astros job. He has a 793-789 career record over 11 seasons, the last in 2018.
Zack Cozart’s future grew a little foggy on Monday when the former Ole Miss star was designated for assignment by San Francisco, which had acquired the veteran infielder in a trade in mid-December. Cozart, a 2017 All-Star in Cincinnati, is coming off two injury-wracked seasons with the Los Angeles Angels that saw him bat .190 with five homers in 96 games. The Giants took on Cozart’s $13 million salary as part of a deal that netted them highly regarded shortstop prospect Will Wilson. It seems likely that Cozart, 34, will be released. Perhaps he’ll get a minor league deal somewhere. Perhaps. He was a second-round pick by the Reds in 2007 out of UM and has played nine years in the majors, mostly as a shortstop, batting .247 with 87 homers. P.S. Something to keep an eye on: Mississippi State product Dakota Hudson, who went 16-7 with a 3.35 ERA as a rookie for St. Louis in 2019, has been rumored to be part of the Nolan Arenado trade talks between the Cardinals and Colorado.
At last, a trickle of news on the free agent front: MassLive.com speculates that Mitch Moreland would be a “good fit” on Boston’s 2020 roster and might be available at a price the Red Sox would like. Moreland, the former Mississippi State standout from Amory, spent the previous three seasons with the Red Sox, making the All-Star Game and winning a World Series in 2018. A 10-year veteran, the left-handed hitting Moreland batted .252 with 19 homers in 2019, playing only 91 games because of back problems. He said late last season that he’d love to return to Boston. He made $6.5 million last year and, at age 34, may have to settle for much less for 2020. The Red Sox’s only first base options at the moment are Michael Chavis, a 2019 rookie, and Bobby Dalbec, a highly rated prospect who has yet to debut. Both are right-handed batters. … Other Mississippians remaining on the free agent market are Brian Dozier, Billy Hamilton, Jarrod Dyson and Tony Sipp, who reportedly might be on Oakland’s radar. Three have signed: Corey Dickerson with Miami, Kendall Graveman with Seattle and Drew Pomeranz with San Diego.
It’s not an insult to say someone was an average major league player. Wendell Magee, the former Hattiesburg High and Pearl River Community College star, was, by one measure, as average as a player can be, which again is not an insult. It’s just very interesting. Magee had more than a cup of coffee in the big leagues. An outfielder who was never really a regular, he played parts of seven seasons in The Show, getting into 386 games with Philadelphia and Detroit from 1996-2002. He batted .247 for his career with 24 home runs and 122 RBIs. His best MLB season might have been his last, when he hit .271 with six homers, 19 doubles and 35 RBIs in 97 games for the Tigers. Possibly the most interesting number from Magee’s career is his WAR, or Wins Above Replacement. WAR is a statistical measure of a player’s contributions to his team relative to wins and losses. (Raise your hand if you truly understand WAR.) According to fangraphs.com: “WAR offers an estimate to answer the question, ‘If this player got injured and their team had to replace them with a freely available minor leaguer or a AAAA player from their bench, how much value would the team be losing?’” It’s even possible to have a negative WAR. Babe Ruth’s career (cumulative) WAR, over 22 years as a hitter, is 182.4. Mike Trout’s is 72.5 over his nine years. McComb native Corey Dickerson, who recently signed with Miami, stands at 13.1 over seven seasons. Wendell Magee’s career WAR is 0.0. Zero, point, zero. That doesn’t mean Magee contributed nothing over his seven seasons. Obviously, he had some big hits here and there. He had four seasons with a positive WAR, three with a negative. It all added up to 0.0. So, what does it mean? Perhaps Magee was simply an average player, which, in the grand scheme, isn’t bad at all. He played in 386 big league games spread over seven seasons. Think of how many players who would kill for one day in the big leagues.